The politics in France get curiouser and curiouser (to put things mildly).
On Monday, the Minister of Productive Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg, announced a deal between Titan and Goodyear that would save union jobs in tire manufacturing plants.
The problem, and a significant one, is that Goodyear did not agree to the deal. Heck, the CEO of Titan denies even making an offer.
Via translation from Les Echo, please consider Goodyear Amiens: new imbroglio between Montebourg and Titan
It’s a pretty mess that would be almost amusing if it was not hundreds of jobs at stake Monday, the Minister of Productive Recovery Arnaud Montebourg, told AFP that the U.S. tire manufacturer Titan had made a new offer of a partial recovery for the site of Goodyear Amiens Nord, which employs 1,200 workers, the closure was announced in January by the company management.
The proposal concerns the activity of agricultural tires and covers “333 jobs in the Amiens plant whose maintenance is guaranteed for four years,” the minister said. Titan International would even be willing to invest “one hundred million minimum on the site”.
Alas, Maurice Taylor, the CEO of Titan, contacted by AFP, declined to confirm this announcement. “I am not aware of anything related to your country of great wines and beautiful women,” he responded … Besides, “the management of Goodyear has not received any new offer” from Titan.
This tire story has an amusing background.
I wrote about it on February 19, in Incredible Letter from CEO of Titan to France Minister of Industrial Renewal, Blasting French Unions and USA: “How Stupid Do You Think We Are?”
“Les Echos” received a copy of the letter which the President of the American Titan told the Minister of Industrial Renewal why he threw in the towel on purchasing the Goodyear plant Amiens Nord, in a very direct style.
“How Stupid Do You Think We Are?”
Here are some excerpts I transcribed from an image of the letter posted on Les Echos.
Dear Mr. Montebourg:
Goodyear tried for over four years to save part of the Amiens jobs that are some of the highest paid, but the French unions and French government did nothing but talk.
I have visited the factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. 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!
The Chinese are shipping tires into France – really all over Europe – and yet you do nothing. In five years, Michelin won’t be able to produce tire in France. France will lose its industrial business because government is more government.
Sir, your letter states you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with money and talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government. The French farmer wants cheap tire. He does not care if the tires are from China or India and governments are subsidizing them. Your government doesn’t care either. “We’re French!”
The US government is not much better than the French. Titan had to pay millions to Washington lawyers to sue the Chinese tire companies because of their subsidizing. Titan won. The government collects the duties. We don’t get the duties, the government does.
Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour and ship all the tires France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amien North factory.
Maurice M. Taylor, Jr.
Chairman and CEO
Perhaps there was some exploratory talk, perhaps not. Regardless, facts show the deal Montebourg announced is totally fictional.
Whether or not some deal eventually transpires, Montebourg looks like (and is) a complete fool.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock