In grim French north, worker protests seem doomed

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non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#1 Feb 26, 2013
In France's grim, jobless north, worker protests appear doomed as economy forces change
By Lori Hinnant, Associated Press | Associated Press – 2 hrs 22 mins ago...

AMIENS, France (AP)-- Workers at a dying French tire factory who have become the butt of American jokes staged a last-ditch protest on Tuesday to defy anyone — plant owner Goodyear, prospective buyers, even the French government — to try and take their jobs away.

It's a growing problem across France, particularly as the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande is under pressure from the European Union and financial markets to focus on cutting debt, rather than trying to prop up loss-making industries.

The factory's closure was announced five years ago by Goodyear when workers refused to accept any layoffs. It will be at least 2014 before the French government intervention runs its course and the plant ultimately shuts down.

"I have visited that 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!" Maurice Taylor, the CEO of Titan tires, wrote to the French government official trying to find a buyer. "How stupid do you think we are?"

The stinging letter infuriated France's political class and even drew a rebuke from the director of Goodyear France, who insisted that the accusations against the workers he's trying to lay off were "unfair."

"It is logical that companies make money. It is their first goal. But at some point, they also must divide the wealth fairly," said Mickael Wamen, a union leader at the factory who organized Tuesday's protest.

Figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development show France has one of the highest rates of productivity - measured as economic output per hour worked - in Europe. In fact, it is close to that of the U.S.

But that productivity rate in France also costs more because of higher taxes for companies. As a result, analysts and politicians say France, the continent's second-largest economy after Germany, is rapidly losing its competitiveness.

Hollande was blunt on Saturday as he warned both European authorities and the French that things would get worse before they improved.

"2013 will be marked by more unemployment," he said.

Stephen Lewis, chief economist for Monument Securities, said Hollande's options were dwindling fast and was relying on the EU's leniency on deficit targets. The EU expects France's budget deficit to be 4.6 percent of annual GDP in 2012, well above the bloc's 3 percent target.

For Amiens, with an unemployment rate at 12.5 percent and rising faster than all but one region in France, the future is here.

For Peter Morici, a conservative economist at the University of Maryland, the French need to come to terms with the fact that both their own economic model and that of the European Union have failed them.

"If they cut spending the economy will start to shrink. If they don't cut spending, they will go bankrupt," he said. "The realization is emerging in Europe that Europe is not going to get better."

Morici said it's clearly too late for countries like Greece, Spain and even Italy, where this week's elections called into question the country's very ability to govern itself. And France is out of options, he added.

That realization appears to be sinking in already in Amiens, despite the workers' promises to sue Goodyear and Titan and find a way to keep the factory going.

After a brief protest in the morning, they took a few hours off in the middle of the day before staging another demonstration march. But by mid-afternoon, all but a few dozen of the workers had trickled away, and only a handful returned to the parking lot to burn tires. Those, at least, were easy to find.
..
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#2 Feb 26, 2013
I especially liked this part, "That realization appears to be sinking in already in Amiens, despite the workers' promises to sue Goodyear and Titan and find a way to keep the factory going."

The workers of the Goodyear plant are going to sue Titan for not purchasing their loser operation?
IrishMN

Seattle, WA

#3 Feb 26, 2013
I especially liked this part,...." talk for three" ?? Guess, tire making requires silence or the boss is simply a BUTTINSKY !! LMAOROFU~! What a MORON you are non-sense... Nobody cares a dufus bought a tire plant and needs to blame workers, because it's failing.
IrishMN

Seattle, WA

#4 Feb 26, 2013
I especially liked this part,...." talk for three" ?? Guess, tire making requires silence or the boss is simply a BUTTINSKY !! LMAOROFU~! What a MORON you are non-sense... Nobody cares a doofus bought a tire plant and needs to blame workers, because it's failing.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#5 Feb 26, 2013
IrishMN wrote:
I especially liked this part,...." talk for three" ?? Guess, tire making requires silence or the boss is simply a BUTTINSKY !! LMAOROFU~! What a MORON you are non-sense... Nobody cares a doofus bought a tire plant and needs to blame workers, because it's failing.
What the Titan CEO said, and you took out of context once again, because it is what you do, is:

The employees work for 3 hours, get one hour for breaks and lunch, and talk for 3 hours.

It may be paraphrased, but regardless, the content means the same. The French day is 3/7 productive in that factory. Kind of like you on here, 0/24 productive.
IrishMN

Seattle, WA

#7 Feb 26, 2013
Talking can be done while working and if the boss has all day to watch ... LMAOROTFU~! Guess, you're still trying to insult workers all over the world. Too bad, you're too stupid to follow the contract...
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#8 Feb 26, 2013
Yeah, the union must be a real joy to work with, Goodyear tried to close the plant 5 years ago before the French government stepped in to prop it up through 2014. Michelin, Goodyear, Titan, no one would operate that plant with the toxic union in place there. Another union shuts down another plant.

"For Peter Morici, a conservative economist at the University of Maryland, the French need to come to terms with the fact that both their own economic model and that of the European Union have failed them.

"If they cut spending the economy will start to shrink. If they don't cut spending, they will go bankrupt," he said. "The realization is emerging in Europe that Europe is not going to get better." "
Ralph

Saint Paul, MN

#9 Feb 26, 2013
French are a little different.

When they are on "Holiday" it mans it's summer and they don't work for 3 months.

Productivity wise, the US compares to France like China compares to the USA.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#10 Feb 26, 2013
Making up nonsense now ?? GROW UP !!
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#11 Apr 3, 2013
Ralph wrote:
French are a little different.
When they are on "Holiday" it mans it's summer and they don't work for 3 months.
Productivity wise, the US compares to France like China compares to the USA.
French Military History in a Nutshell

Gallic Wars: Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.

Hundred Years War: Mostly lost, saved at last by a female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare - "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchmen."

Italian Wars: Lost. France becomes the first and only country ever to lose two wars when fighting Italians.

Wars of Religion: France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots.

Thirty Years' War: France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

War of Devolution: Tied; Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

The Dutch War: Tied.

War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War: Lost, but claimed as a tie. Deluded Frogophiles the world over label the period as the height of French Military Power.

War of the Spanish Succession: Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved ever since.

American Revolution: In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare: "France only wins when America does most of the fighting".

French Revolution: Won, primarily due to the fact that the opponent was also French.

The Napoleonic Wars: Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

The Franco-Prussian War: Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

WWI: Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States. Thousands of French women find out what it's like not only to sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

WWII: Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.

War in Indochina: Lost. French forces plead sickness, take to bed with Dien Bien Flu.

Algerian Rebellion: Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a Western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare -"We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Eskimos.

War on Terrorism: France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#12 Apr 3, 2013
Talking can be done while working and if the boss has all day to watch ... LMAOROTFU~! Guess, you're still trying to insult workers all over the world. Too bad, you're too stupid to follow the contract...
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#13 Apr 3, 2013
2 Tire Factories With Different Trajectories Reveal Social Schisms in France

By STEVEN ERLANGER

Published: March 16, 2013

AMIENS, France — This is a tale of two factories, across the road from each other in north Amiens, both owned by the same company, Goodyear Dunlop Tires France. But one, Goodyear, is scheduled to close after the union workers there refused to agree to new working conditions, which they argued were too harsh and benefited only the company. The other, Dunlop, has a promising future, and the company treats it very differently.

Legally separate from the Goodyear factory since 2008, the Dunlop plant continues to make high-quality passenger tires for the upper segment of the market. But at Dunlop, the unions agreed to changes in their work schedules while the unions at Goodyear have refused.

The new system preserves the 35-hour week, but it puts workers on a cycle of six-day and four-day weeks, with shifts that can include weekends and nights. It puts new strains on the workers, but it saves the company money and, of course, preserves jobs.

In return for the new labor agreement, said the general manager of Goodyear Dunlop Tires France, Henry Dumortier, the company invested in newer machinery to make higher-value tires, while the Goodyear plant, whose workers rejected the new work rules, is losing about $78 million a year.

Dunlop is producing fewer tires than before, trying to match its output to the general European slowdown in car sales, now at a 20-year low. But its 940 jobs seem safe, for now, since it is producing tires that Mr. Dumortier says fit the needs of the market.

The story of these two factories might have emerged from Ohio in the 1980s. But it is emblematic for a France that today is itself at a kind of crossroads, trying to preserve both its industrial base and its traditional economic and social model — generous social welfare and health benefits and strong job protections — while coping with a stagnant economy, rising competition and an aging population.

The fight over Goodyear also highlights the troubles faced by France’s Socialist president, François Hollande.

In last year’s campaign, he promised to create jobs, restore growth and reduce the budget deficit. But with national unemployment at record levels, the economy near recession and the government faced with finally making spending cuts to try to reduce its budget deficit to 3 percent next year — having failed in its vow to do so this year — Mr. Hollande is facing what Le Monde last week called “the hour of doubt.” The magazine Marianne asked simply:“Has Hollande already failed?”

“Under a government of the left it’s no different,” said Michael Mallet, 35, a 13-year veteran worker at the Goodyear plant and an official of the dominant union CGT, the most militant in France.“They don’t help us more than before, and it’s more complicated. Under the right we felt freer to demonstrate. The riot police are still protecting our bosses.”

Goodyear, he said, just wants to shut the plant and blame it on the unions, a charge the company denies. His colleague, Franck Jurek, 44, has worked at the plant for 18 years.“We’re considered rebellious,” he said.“We’re called ‘the Gaulois village,’” resisting the Romans to the end, as in the famous Astérix story.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#14 Apr 3, 2013
In a way, said Claude Dimoff, a former union leader,“their struggle is folkloric.” But it is not expected to end well, he said, throwing another 1,200 people out of work in a depressed area, 75 miles north of Paris, that had a small riot last August and has an unemployment rate of 12 percent.

Goodyear announced in January that it would close the 53-year-old plant, arguing that it could no longer make passenger tires at a competitive price and that the refusal of the unions to alter work schedules was making its production of tires for agricultural machines unprofitable as well.

With no union deal to phase out passenger tire production, negotiations to sell the plant to Titan International had fallen apart, and new efforts by the Socialist government to entice Titan to return produced an extraordinary polemic that reflected badly on the image of France.

“How stupid do you think we are?” Maurice M. Taylor Jr., the head of Titan, wrote to Arnaud Montebourg, the minister of industrial renewal.

Mr. Taylor said he had visited the north Amiens factory several 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!”

Mr. Montebourg, who as a presidential candidate last year campaigned for the “deglobalization” of France, held his fire, but not for long. He told Mr. Taylor:“Your extremist and insulting remarks are a testament to a perfect ignorance about our country.” Mr. Montebourg insisted that France is open to foreign investment, wins a lot of it and that French workers work hard.

The fireworks were entertaining but damaging to France’s reputation, especially among foreign companies considering investment here and already concerned about increases in corporate and personal taxes. Some highly paid executives are moving abroad or considering doing so.

There was some French hand-wringing, too, about the confrontational attitudes of unions, especially the traditionally Communist CGT, and the effort of governments to try to beat back the waves of competition with subsidies, as France loses competitiveness because of high charges paid by companies for social benefits and pensions as well as rigidity in the labor market.

Ministers privately worry about a new wave of strikes unless the economy improves. Bruno Palier, a scholar who studies employment issues at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, said that “France spends much too much energy, time and money trying to save industrial sectors in decline” and not enough investing in new technologies.

But Mr. Hollande is a politician first, aides say, and is cautious about moving quickly in any direction. He knows the economic problems of France, they insist, but is mindful of the example of Mario Monti, the departing prime minister of Italy, who made many of the right, if painful, policy moves to help fix the Italian economy and was rewarded with 10 percent of the vote in last month’s elections.

“France being France, any sudden change of course can seem politically and socially untenable,” said Sony Kapoor, the managing director of the economic research group Re-Define.“While the broad direction and course need to be shifted, it doesn’t need to be done in a way that is politically and socially unsustainable.”
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#15 Apr 3, 2013
France still has high domestic demand, compared with many struggling euro zone countries, and is less dependent on exports than Germany.“So change in France is very important, but the urgency is somewhat less,” Mr. Kapoor said.

At the Goodyear plant, Mr. Mallet and Mr. Jurek think that the Dunlop workers made a “grave mistake” by agreeing to the more flexible schedule. For now, they are trying to create a workers’ cooperative to take over from Goodyear and keep the plant alive.

Mr. Dumortier said that Goodyear had not seen such a proposal,“but we are open and will evaluate it with care,” although he warned that the plant would need large new investments to be competitive. The company is talking with the workers, he said, on how to manage the eventual shutdown of the plant.

Mr. Dimoff, 60, spent 40 years as a militant union leader and reluctantly supported the flexible schedule at Dunlop, for which he was exiled from the CGT. He has no doubt that the Dunlop workers made the right choice, and thinks that the idea of a workers’ cooperative at Goodyear is doomed, because the workers will not find the money needed to make the plant competitive.

Mr. Dimoff admires the fighting spirit of the Goodyear workers but says he feels sadness.“It’s sad,” he said,“because the factory could have been saved.”

And he feels a larger sadness, too.“I’m part of a generation that experienced ‘the common program of the left,’” he said.“We had visions for the future, and different values, but all this is forgotten. The left has completely deviated from its promises.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/world/europ...
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#16 Apr 3, 2013
I especially liked this part,...." talk for three" ?? Guess, tire making requires silence or the boss is simply a BUTTINSKY !! LMAOROTFU~!

What a MORON you are non-sense... Nobody cares a doofus bought a tire plant and needs to blame workers, because it's failing.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#17 Apr 3, 2013
Bushwhacker wrote:
I especially liked this part,...." talk for three" ?? Guess, tire making requires silence or the boss is simply a BUTTINSKY !! LMAOROTFU~!
What a MORON you are non-sense... Nobody cares a doofus bought a tire plant and needs to blame workers, because it's failing.
Mr. Dimoff, 60, spent 40 years as a militant union leader and reluctantly supported the flexible schedule at Dunlop, for which he was exiled from the CGT. He has no doubt that the Dunlop workers made the right choice, and thinks that the idea of a workers’ cooperative at Goodyear is doomed, because the workers will not find the money needed to make the plant competitive.

Mr. Dimoff admires the fighting spirit of the Goodyear workers but says he feels sadness.“It’s sad,” he said,“because the factory could have been saved.”

And he feels a larger sadness, too.“I’m part of a generation that experienced ‘the common program of the left,’” he said.“We had visions for the future, and different values, but all this is forgotten. The left has completely deviated from its promises.”
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#19 Apr 3, 2013
Bushwhacker wrote:
Nobody cares a doofus bought a tire plant and needs to blame workers, because it's failing.
By the way, reading comprehension challenged poster, the CEO of the corporation did not buy the plant because the workers' work ethic was too bad to be salvaged. The factory is going to close.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#21 Apr 3, 2013
Poor ugly American managers, hated around the world, because they want sweat shops and profit driven mentality, for THEIR benefit...
scooby slew

Saint Paul, MN

#22 Apr 3, 2013
Bushwhacker wrote:
Poor ugly American managers, hated around the world, because they want sweat shops and profit driven mentality, for THEIR benefit...
If it was such a good plant to run, why hasn't Michelin, a French company, stepped in to buy it and run it.
scooby slew

Saint Paul, MN

#23 Apr 3, 2013
We all remember you only pretend to know stuff slew.
Bushwhacker wrote:
I hope you pick stocks as well as you pretend to "KNOW" stuff ? Oh right, I do THAT !!! What do you do again ? Childish noises, right ?

Well, you at least admitted by your statement that you only pretend to know stuff. Shouldn't you be getting back to your whacking in the bushes?

There you go Slewby DooDoo, pretending to know stuff again.

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