Give this article a read, and then question why *any* multinational would want to buy or set up a factory in France. In short… no matter how much money the factory is losing, it seems you can’t shut it down.
The American company Goodyear made the mistake of buying a tire factory in the city of Amiens. Due to excessively powerful unions and excessively lazy workers, the place is a money loser, so they wanted to do layoffs and eventually just shut it down. So the union sued them and they have to stay open, even though they’re not producing much. The employees who “work” there are bored out of their minds… just show up and sit in a chair for hours on end. Here’s a quote from the guy in charge of economic development in Amiens that pretty much defines the problem:
‘Give us a cheque and let’s be done with it.’
How about… no. The article also quotes the CEO of Titan, another American company that the French government is trying to persuade to buy the tire factory:
“Sir, your letter states you want Titan to start a discussion”, wrote the straight-talking Texan. “How stupid do you think we are?”
There is some good news, beyond the recognition on the part of non-French companies that it’s a bad idea to set up shop in France:
Many tyre manufacturers are expanding into Eastern Europe where labour costs are four times lower, or shipping tyres from outside Europe where costs are lower still.
One in six industrial jobs in France has been lost in the past decade, and the Picardy region, in which Amiens is located, is an unemployment blackspot.
Industry is bailing from France and finding much better environments elsewhere. Those who worked to make the business environment in France bad, are finding themselves – or at least their countrymen – without jobs. France has not learned the lesson of Detroit, and unless they figure it out and get rid of the excessive restrictions and clamp down on the power of the trade unions, industrial France will end up as glitteringly successful as industrial Detroit.