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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day 1313

First time accepted submitter M3.14 writes "In a letter addressed to French Industrial Renewal Minister, Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan, writes (French article with English letter) that it would be stupid to buy any factory in France since workers don't really work full time. He'd rather buy cheap factories in India and China instead and import tires back to France. He writes, 'They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!'"
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US CEO Says French Workers Have Three-Hour Work Day

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  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:44AM (#42963237)

    its not a politician its a CEO moron, he just sold out thousands of jobs across the world for slave labor and a fat bonus

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:55AM (#42963307)

    I'm sorry to say, but a lot of the French stereotypes are true. My company purchased over 30 million dollars from a said French company. Their machines and equipment are top notch, high tech, and top of the line. However, the way they treated me (their client) was like absolute dog shit. Getting support for their machines was a nightmare. Most of their workforce would always have some long vacation and petty excuses not to do any work. I visited their manufacturing plant, parked in someones space, and some douchebag parked his vehicle behind my vehicle because he was "angry" at me taking his special parking spot. I of course warned them if this happened again, they would be receiving all their equipment back. Of course they all apologized. But, this nonsense never stopped. When I called for their support engineers to try to fix a problem with one of their machines shutting off 10 times a day, they were always unavailable for through out the entire day except for early morning. If you missed this window, you would never be able to speak to them at all. When I complained about it, they would reply with some rude manner that I was just some gun totting American that wanted his way (I speak French fluently, but they always forgot about that). Really, it's quite true they work for literally 3 hours a day and have literally 2 hour lunch breaks.

    Suffice to say, I made the decision and sent all their equipment back for this lousy practice on the basis of them breaking their contractual duties. They immediately sent the President and Vice President of the company (With a bunch of idiotic French lawyers) to try to beg me to stay with them and not send the equipment back (Over 30+ million dollars worth plus all the labor costs). I of course refused, because I asked them to stop this nonsense before kindly, I already knew it would still continue, even with their promises. I ended up going to their German competitors which we're quite happy to work with, they answer their phones, they don't disappear and they're eager to solve problems.

    So yes, what he says is fucking true.

  • Re:Ummm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:56AM (#42963319)

    The difference is labor laws. In America, for example, you can actually fire someone [businessweek.com].

  • I'm With the CEO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Snap E Tom ( 128447 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:09AM (#42963413)

    As a guy who worked for a company with its headquarters in France, I'm siding with the CEO on this.

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:14AM (#42963449)

    Mexican do most of the work.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:15AM (#42963455)

    I keep hearing this "not enough work" nonsense. Look around. Don't you see many things that need to be done but aren't? There's plenty of work. I see enough for me to do in three lifetimes. The problem isn't a lack of work. The problem is that the very people who keep touting the power of the market have created a market where most work will never be done. It is their job to find ways to create a profit from work, and they're not doing it.

  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:15AM (#42963461)

    4) Golf.
    5) Business Lunches that last several hours and involve enough alcohol consumption to write off the rest of the day.

    I'm sure there are more...

  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:14AM (#42963873)

    Not in any context that's relevant to the discussion you're posting to. It has been talking about America's shortcomings in response to an article about France's purported shortcomings.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:44AM (#42964023) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that real wages are not keeping up with the levels of productivity increases that technology and knowledge should afford. It hasn't always been this way - look at the chart [huffingtonpost.com] here. You'll see that after 1971 the real share of productivity that the workers saw went away. Unions didn't suddenly crumble in 1971 but the US Dollar did, and that delta in money isn't just evaporating.

    The problem is 1971 is when Nixon put the country on a fiat money system (probably his and Johnson's fault, but that's a separate issue). The problem with that is that with a fiat currency and Keynesian central bankers, steady inflation is a guarantee in the economy. If you have wealth (capital) then you're going to want to protect it, and that means you can no longer hold your wealth in your local bank, making a moderate level of interest while protecting your holdings. If you don't want to lose real value every year, that money now needs to be invested in financial instruments (stocks, bonds, commodities, annuities - whatever Wall Street is selling) that return at a higher rate than inflation.

    Suddenly capital is no longer available for local lending (due to reserve requirements), money that would have otherwise been spent in the local economy is now gone almost immediately (where does that that 10% of your salary into 401(k) match go, eh?). Wealth that was previously re-invested in the local economy in a healthy cycle is now shipped off, leaving capitalism broken on the local level. And with the 70's stagflation the effect was rather sudden, and people had no recourse. Over time the expectations set them have become permanent, and the workers aren't able to solve the problem themselves anymore (short of a massive general strike, anyway).

    This is the same reason trickle-down economics doesn't work anymore - tax cuts at the top don't flow to the workers, they flow to Wall Street (at least to any measurable degree of what they used to). The median hourly wage, in real terms, would be about $37/hr, if trends had kept going as they had for the bulk of the 20th Century before 1971.

    American workers are being systematically screwed out of their earnings for the benefit of the financial sector (the new "robber barons") and the legal tender act ensures that anybody who tries to offer a stable currency as an alternative will get SWAT-raided. It's really no wonder that by any honest measure we're in an economic depression. The odds of it getting any better before a total monetary crash are, unfortunately, quite slim.

  • by radio4fan ( 304271 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:47AM (#42964043)

    I lived in France for years, and I dearly love France and the French, but his story rings true to me.

    It's not that the French are lazy or incompetent, it's that they suffer from a collective "can't do" attitude.

    You must have experienced this everywhere from restaurants to shops to plumbers, and particularly from anyone who sits behind a desk: nothing is possible, the answer is (almost) always "non".

    And don't get me started on French corporate hierarchy, where seniority is determined by age, time served, or nepotism. It's just not possible to get a foot in the door, work bloody hard, show your competence and advance quickly like it is in Britain and the US.

    I'm not talking about this not being possible for a foreigner, but for French people.

    Read about the French 'Barrez-vous!' (Get out!) movement, which advises young French people just to leave France to escape the ossified hierarchical culture:

    http://barrez-vo2.us/site/ [barrez-vo2.us]

    I still love France though, and intend to go back despite these problems.

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:55AM (#42964075)

    A classic example of this was Joe the Plumber in the 2008 campaign. Here was a guy making $40K a year and when he got the ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity to ask a potential President a question, he didn't even use his own financial data! Spoon fed by partisan radio, he threw out what was the de facto standard net income for EVERY small business which was of course the exact $250K that was the cutoff for Obama's planned tax hike.

    He didn't say, I make $40K what are you going to do for me? He said, I'm going to buy my boss's company (with money he didn't have) and instantly make the convenient $250K/year. Not $200K, not $300K, not $240K, not 251K, but EXACTLY $250K/year lol. One half is so dissociated from their own economic situation by political spinmeisters that they don't even associate with their own needs! That's like Thulsa Doom getting the priestess to jump off the cliff wall!

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kiddygrinder ( 605598 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:03AM (#42964105)
    if you work a solid 8 hours a day and get your minimum wage you're still not going to beat chinese workers. so no, i don't think if i work 2 hours a week i deserve to get paid more than starving chinese people, but i still bargain for the best deal i can get.
  • by madprof ( 4723 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:11AM (#42964525)

    What would you cut, and why? Genuine question. Feel free to give as detailed an answer as possible.

  • by sa1lnr ( 669048 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:34AM (#42964647)

    If it's true. :)

  • by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:25AM (#42965103)

    Oh, fuck! I live in Portugal, which has more or less the same labour laws as Germany. But here, companies take it for granted that we work extra time without being paid for it (which is illegal). I used to work extra time a lot in my current company. I worked many, many weekends, I postponed vacations to deliver projects, in the end, I got a pat in the back and they told me "good boy". So I stopped. Now I work a regular work week. With an occasional crunch now and then, because I decide to do so in any particular conditions. Sorry guys, I have a family. I have a life.

    Here, many people are bullied into working extra for free. I know lots of people in the services sector that live only for working. In industry it's not so easy to pull this one off because unions still carry some weight in those areas. Banks force people to work 12 hours a day. Bank employees are trained to evade Labour Authority inspections. Several times, banks are caught, they pay the fines, and keep on doing the same thing. In their calculations, it's cheaper.

    The law here requires people to take 22 paid vacation days every year. Vacation days can not be traded by money. I have always seen people that don't take their full vacation time, year after year. And I've seen people being bullied not to take vacations.

    In a company I have worked for years ago, I was bullied to postpone vacations when I already had my reservations made and plain tickets bought. They used to try that on everybody because people would postpone again and again, and end up not taking the vacation days. I said NO and fell out of favour with the bosses, that started picking on me constantly after that. I got another job and said goodbye. But I'm a computer engineer. Most people can't find jobs easily, the pay is usually very low and the ubiquity of illegal "temporary" contracts makes everybody submissive, as they can lose their job at a moment's notice.

    They think they're so smart doing all this shit. What do they get? Portuguese productivity is among the lowest ones in the developed world. All they get is a bunch of unhappy and anxious employees that can't focus and work efficiently. People throw their health and their family well-being in the toilet for a company that will, in its turn, throw them in the toilet when they see fit. Managers don't have any incentive to do a good job of managing and organising because they can always squeeze some more work from their employees. Hence, management positions are not regarded as places of responsibility, but privilege. As a society, we're sick.

    People that emigrate to other countries in Europe (I'm talking about a lot of people in the latest years) tell me that they make a lot more money than in Portugal, work less hours, have a much better work-life balance and get more respect by their company, specially if they are qualified workers. After a while, they don't consider coming back any more. Of course, if they're not hired by a Portuguese company to go abroad. In that case, the shit is the same as here, with the disadvantage of being away from their family and friends.

    Sometimes I hear ignorant people saying: "Portuguese are lazy! If we did like the Germans and work 14 hours a day, we wouldn't have gotten in this situation!". When I tell them that in almost every country in Europe people work less hours a day and less days a year, and yet they're a lot richer than us, these fucks almost choke on their own stupidity.

    We have to think, what kind of society do we want to live in? Do you want to have the life of a Portuguese worker? It doesn't work, see? Productivity is shit, industry and agriculture have gone away just the same, little added-value, little innovation, no future.

  • by Dodgy G33za ( 1669772 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:25AM (#42965829)

    The brutal suppression of the unions was probably more influential than the individualist culture. But then if you grew up with the US education system you wouldn't know about that redacted part of your history.

  • by Jumperalex ( 185007 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:04AM (#42966231)

    Yes x100. My sister was an outstanding teacher for 18 years ... with math as a specialty. Then she got divorced and realized, "Oh crap I can't afford to keep teaching without someone else supplementing my income." So she went back to serving food, was soon tapped to be a local and then regional trainer, and soon after put into the management program. Now she's making a decent living wage without the physical demands (her age made lugging trays around for 8 hours / 6 days a week unsustainable). The ultimate irony IMO is that her teach abilities, and her work ethic, are what drive her rise to management so quickly. I don't know what number $$$ would have conviced her to stay in teaching, but it was a not even a difficult calculation to make when she was looking to rebuild her life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:54AM (#42966837)

    I apologize, but, wait, no, I don't. What the fuck are you talking about? My wife is a teacher, so I'm not just making this shit up, but teachers make way too damn much money. Yes, she worked crazy hours when she was young and just starting out, but now that she's in the groove and has all her lesson plans, she works roughly 40 hours a week-- for only 9 months out of the year. She only has a her masters and does not work with special ed and she gets paid $80k a year to do it. The top of the bracket (you can easily reach it by the time you are in your early 50s) is currently $92k without all the "extra" stuff you can do to improve it. That makes a married couple of teachers in the top 5% of wealthiest americans. And guess what? Most teachers completely suck and don't know what they are doing.

    If we paid teachers exactly in the way you describe, their pay would halve.

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:27AM (#42967247)

    There are more than one kind of libertarian, until Ayn Rand the word would NEVER have been applied to capitalists for example. Libertarianism is a political philosophy which is NOT in fact distinct from anarchism. Some libertarians will ACCEPT minarchism but only as a pragmatic compromise for full anarchism.
    In fact the word libertarian was coined specifically to be able to write anarchist philosophy without contravening Napoleon's law forbidding anarchist propaganda.
    What most American's today call "libertarian" is a recent redefinition of an idea dating back hundreds of years which is quite at odds to the real philosophy in many ways.
    Socialist libertarians would indeed include Bill Maher (and interestingly Bill O'Reily knows and recognizes this even though you do not), Noam Chomsky is a socialist libertarian, the philosophy of participatory democracy is a socialist-libertarian philosophy.

    You see libertarianism doesn't actually have anything to DO with economics. It's a POLITICAL philosophy - a form of anarchism. Capitalist libertarians had to water down the anarchism because their ideas of economics cannot work without authority-systems, both in business and in the form of government as an arbitrator. Socialist libertarians have no government at all (so they are also quite distinct from state-based socialism), and propose a form of socialism based entirely on voluntary participation with laws made by the people who have to live under them themselves through consensus voting systems - in most versions the votes are weighed so the more impact a law has on your personal life, the more votes you have on it - thus preventing a tyranny of the majority problem.

    Socialist libertarians mostly reject the idea of a money-based economy entirely and entirely reject all forms of authority - including in business (the only business form socialist libertarians would legally allow to exist are worker-owned cooperations).

    I find it hilarious everytime Americans think they know what "libertarian" means and have never actually read anything about it's history, or the major division between left and right libertarians (and which one has actually once been the government of a very successful state - which would survived for 20 years in the 20th century despite being simultaneously invaded by capitalists AND communists - socialist libertarians don't get along with either but also proved that you can have a successful military that can fend of invasions by two LARGER armies for two decades without any formal system of command authority).

    No my friend - you are committing the no-true-Scotsman fallacy and I am being kind enough to assume it was out of ignorance - now you know better.

    PS. I am a socialist libertarian myself.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toiletsalmon ( 309546 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:30AM (#42967295) Journal

    Don't you realize that if an economy were managed in such a way you effectively create huge disincentive for people to become doctors? Some still will, but many will look at Easy Path A compared to Hard Path B, see they achieve the same result, and thus choose A.

    Although I agree mostly, I have to say that I feel we'd all be better served if the doctors in our society we more likely to be people interested in healing rather than people who are interested in fancy cars and social prestige.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:41AM (#42967451)

    > If I own a business, I am going to maximize my profits, and if that means opening a plant in china, or XX instead of YY, well thats not my fault, thats the market. If you dont like the rules, or the way things are running in your country, change the rules to make it more competitive, if that dont work change the rules to keep workers, or products from ZZ from entering your country.

    That is greed. You don't NEED to maximize profits, you need enough revenue to pay all bills, invest to grow, and have some incentive. This idea that you NEED TO MAXIMIZE PROFITS, so much more that it's worth being inhumane, is pathetic to say the least.

  • by sckeener ( 137243 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @12:56PM (#42968637)

    Hell, I never took vacation... maybe 3 or 4 days in the last year. I got laid off anyway, never mind a promotion. I got no severance pay, but they gave me 70% of my remaining vacation time in cash.

    The lesson is: use your vacation. You may not get a chance later.

    I can easy one up that and drive the point home. My ex-father in law never called in sick or took vacation. He died at 48. The paycheck he got for the unused vacation time had no taxes taken out. His wife who died two years later had to pay a ton in taxes because of that. On his death bed, I showed him pictures of a recent vacation I had and he wished he had done more of that than work. Who wouldn't? And since you never know when your last day is take the time now if you can.

  • by gorzek ( 647352 ) <gorzek AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:07PM (#42969673) Homepage Journal

    This is the question that nobody wants to answer.

    A lot of jobs we take for granted today will be done by robots/computers someday soon. We've already figured out how to automate most manufacturing. We're working on self-driving cars. We already have simple robots like Roombas to deal with chores around the house--I'm sure those will continue to evolve and proliferate. People who design, build, and repair the robots will have jobs--for a while. But what do you do when the robots become capable of repairing themselves or each other, and we've got enough good robot "templates" (including software) that there isn't much to do except plug and play some different components? Even jobs we think of as incapable of being outsourced are at risk. Plumber? A properly-equipped robot could clear your pipes and repair leaks. You might need a human for more complicated jobs, but only until they make a better robot. Same with electricians.

    Medical professionals? Healthcare is already so saturated with technology, I think the only reason we'd keep doctors around is because we, as humans, want that human touch--we don't want a robot examining us and ordering tests. But if the healthcare system continues to become overburdened, there's no reason to think we won't give that up, too, if the alternative is waiting 6 months to see a human doctor, when you can get in to see the robotic one tomorrow.

    What do we do when 90-95% of all working age people are idle because their jobs have been automated away? Even once that number hits, say, 20%, we are looking at a serious economic crisis in terms of what to do with so many people who can't find work.

    We're supposed to believe capitalism will magically solve this problem by creating new markets, new fields, and new jobs. There is no reason to believe this is the case. Capitalism coupled with industrial society and government oversight to produce a robust middle class is a relatively recent phenomenon, one which looks to represent a transitory state of human economic activity. What's next? When (almost) all the jobs are automated away, what kind of economy are we left with?

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.