Entries in Workers (7)


US CEO Defends Criticism of French Workers

FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images(QUINCY, Ill.) -- Maurice Taylor, CEO of Titan International Inc., made headlines when he declined to invest in a struggling French factory because its “so-called workers” get high wages for working three-hour days. On Thursday he defended his statement but questioned why the French government would release his remarks in the first place.

Taylor, chairman and chief executive of tire company Titan, based in Quincy, Ill., wrote a letter to French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, declining to buy a Goodyear tire factory that is being closed in Amiens, France.

“They’re very sensitive — the people in government in France,” Taylor told ABC News on Thursday. “Maybe they should not wear briefs and use boxer shorts instead.”

Taylor questions why Montebourg released Taylor’s letter that was in response to a query about the factory in Amiens.

“Politicians do things for political gain. He was hoping I would be the bad, bad American and it’s the French who stand up,” Taylor said. "He forgot or didn’t check that we’ve had a factory in France for years,” Taylor said. “The French workers there do a great job. The problem they have is that Goodyear plant.”

“I have visited the factory several times,” Taylor wrote in the letter, as reported by Bloomberg. “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 the French union workers this to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!”

Taylor said when he met with the union leaders, he told them he would not cut their wages but expected them to work six hours with a one-hour lunch and break.

“I don’t cut wages, but I take over. I’m a plant guy. We’re $2.5 billion company and we’re growing. Even Michelin’s wheel business, we own it. When everybody else fails, we step in and build it. We empower our employees. That’s what we do,” Taylor said.

According to Titan’s website, “Taylor was nicknamed “The Grizz” by Wall Street analysts for his tough negotiating style.”  He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.

“The workers of Goodyear would have considered themselves insulted had the author of the letter been someone credible,” the General Confederation of Labor, or, CGT union, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg from Wednesday.

Joblessness in France is at a 15-year high and the closing of the plant means the loss of another 1,173 jobs.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


UK Public Workers Stage Massive Strike over Pension Changes

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The U.K. is facing a massive strike by public sector workers on Wednesday who are angry with the government over changes to their pensions.

The walkout has been deemed one of the biggest industrial actions taken in the U.K. in a generation.  Some two million workers have walked off the job, closing thousands of schools and forcing the cancellation of non-emergency surgeries and treatments at hospitals.

However, the large disruption that was predicted to occur at local airports has failed to materialize so far, since contingency plans were put in place.

Unions are protesting plans that would make workers have to work longer and pay more in order to receive their pensions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Clashes Erupt in Greece as Workers Begin Two-Day Strike

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images(ATHENS, Greece) -- Clashes between police and demonstrators erupted in Greece again Wednesday as workers there began a two-day general strike in protest of new austerity measures being proposed by the government.

The BBC reports protesters in Athens have been throwing stones and smoke bombs at authorities, who have been firing back with tear gas.

The protesters, who numbered in the tens of thousands, are angry about a parliamentary vote expected later this week: the Greek government is looking to make more budget cuts in order to receive bailout packages from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and avoid defaulting on its debt.

As the 48-hour strike kicked off on Wednesday, flights were grounded, public means of transportation were halted, and schools and local businesses were closed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Gov't: 1,600 Plant Workers Exposed to High Radiation Levels

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- New documents released by the Japanese government show that officials estimated about 1,600 workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant would be exposed to radiation levels that exceeded 50 millisieverts -- the maximum level allowed per year.

The documents from the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry were released after a public disclosure request.

The newly released data is significant because both the government and TEPCO, the company that operates the plant, have refused to publicly release any estimates about the extent of radiation exposure until now.  TEPCO has only said that six company employees were exposed to radiation levels that exceeded 250 millisieverts, while subcontractors estimate that more than 400 of their workers have exceeded the allowable limit.

According to the Mainichi newspaper, the document -- dated April 25 -- said,  "Those who in the days ahead will be exposed to over 50 mSv of radiation are expected to number around 1,600."

The ministry expressed concerns that “it will be difficult to secure the safety of other nuclear power plants unless those who have been exposed to more than 50 mSv of radiation continue to engage in radiation work."  The document also said workers should be instructed not to be exposed to over 100 mSv of radiation in a five-year period.

Clearly, many have already exceeded that level.

The numbers are troubling, considering the past history of health issues at Japan’s nuclear power plants.  Government figures show nine out of 10 plant workers who developed cancer were exposed to radiation levels much lower than those at the Fukushima plant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Nuclear Crisis: Worker Speaks Out About Radiation Dangers

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Some Japanese plant workers, including former employees who are now miles away from the damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, say they are concerned about the health of their colleagues and the availability of equipment to keep them safe from the leaked radiation.

International nuclear experts believe that melted fuel in reactor number one has caused a "localized criticality," which is a small, uncontrolled chain reaction that occasionally emits a burst of heat, radiation and a blue flash of light.  It is not a threat to the area at large, officials say, but could be deadly for workers.

One worker from inside the plant spoke anonymously about safety concerns such as not having enough radiation-detection devices available for workers.

"Since the number of monitors is limited, only one or two devices are handed to each group," the worker said.  "But sometimes you have to move away from that person and in that case you'll never know the level of your exposure."

He said workers are worried about their health.

"Some workers called it quits and just left for home," he said.  "My gut feeling is that I want to get it over with and get out of here."

Officials at the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, said workers have had to work under harsh conditions.  They have since acknowledged the problem and promised more detection devices for their workers.

"They sleep on the floor, inside a conference room, or even in the hallway or in front of a bathroom," Kazuma Yokota, head of the Fukushima local office Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said in a news conference.  "That's where they sleep, with only one blanket each to wrap themselves around."

Former plant workers living in a shelter just outside Tokyo, more than 100 miles away, told ABC News Friday that some people have been offered jobs to go back and help contain the leak.

"They're exchanging money with their lives," one worker said.  "There may be people who will take the offer but it's not worth the risk."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three Plant Workers Hospitalized in Japan for Radiation Injuries

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Three workers from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were hospitalized Thursday after suffering radiation injuries.

The workers were trying to restore a broken pump when "they stepped into water and the water apparently contained higher levels of radiation.  As a result workers were exposed to the radiation," Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said through an NHK TV translator.

The three workers are being treated for cutaneous injuries on their legs.

All work has been halted on the plant for the time being.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Plant Workers Evacuated in Japan after Smoke Emerges from Unit 3

ABC News(TOKYO) -- Workers have been evacuated after black smoke was seen emerging from Unit 3 of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, Tokyo's utility company said Wednesday.

"Black steam is coming from reactor number 3," said a company spokesman through an NHK TV translator.  "We don't know the details but to be doubly sure of the safety of the operators, operating workers have been evacuated."

Operators of the power station have been desperately trying to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools at the plant after it was damaged by this month's tsunami, which knocked out power to the cooling systems.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio