Feb 23, 2013 12:44 AM GMT
It's kind of funny how an offhand remark got elevated to an international incident. Not surprisingly the answer is... yes (and arguably it's their overbearing regulations and absurdly strong unions that make them that way). Given their protestations..,.they know it too.
In his letter, Taylor noted that he was not "stupid" enough to reenter negotiations to acquire the Goodyear plant in Amiens, as requested by Montebourg, because he believed that the plant's workforce, led by the CGT union, was intransigent and didn't work hard enough. He went on to say that France risked losing its industrial base if it fails to shake up its labor market. He noted that Michelin, the largest tire maker in France and one of its national champion companies, would probably move all of its production out of the country within five years due to the hostile labor environment.
Taylor doesn't have a crystal ball nor does he have knowledge of the future plans of a rival that is 20 times his company's size, but he does have a point – France has a problem when it comes to productivity, especially in its manufacturing sector. The weak European economy has decreased demand for French industrial products in a big way and its companies are being held hostage to unions that command great power with the government.
For example, Peugeot Citroën, France's largest carmaker, just reported its biggest yearly loss ever earlier this month, shredding some 5 billion euros ($6.74 billion) in 2012. Car sales in Europe and France in 2012 were down 9% and 14%, respectively, from the previous year. Peugeot tried to close plants and lay off workers to adjust production levels to meet market demand, but its unions successfully stalled the implementation of the management's austerity plan by taking the car company to court. Peugeot was allowed to cut production, but it was not allowed to lay off any of its workers until the court gave it "permission."