New report: Orpea building a property empire on public funds

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(24 February 2022, Press Release) A new report has further detailed the shady financial practices of the under-fire Orpea Group.

The report, released by EPSU affiliate unions CGT and CFDT with CICTAR (Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research), reveals that the European for-profit care home giant has quietly been building a property empire. Research by CICTAR reveals that the group has been using 40 Luxembourg subsidiaries to expand their European property portfolio – and that 37 of these subsidiaries have never been disclosed in Orpea’s public reporting.

The Orpea Group has been under fire since the January publication of ‘Les fossoyeurs’ (The Gravediggers), an exposé of the French for-profit care system by investigative journalist Victor Castanet. The book outlined the grim consequences of the grey economy: understaffing, elder abuse, misuse of public funding, union-busting, rationing of food and sanitary items – to name a few.

The new findings highlight a central problem with Orpea’s for-profit empire: the misuse of public funding and residents’ fees to generate profit rather than to provide care for society’s most vulnerable. The system of commercialised care has long been criticised by unions, residents and EPSU. While workers call for management to address issues affecting their ability to deliver quality care, Orpea continues to build its €7.4 billion property portfolio.

EPSU’s General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan said, “While Orpea’s creative accounting practices may not be illegal, they highlight the structural inequalities present in a for-profit care system. Any abuse of public funding must be urgently investigated, and changes must be made to ensure strong financial transparency and accountability. Care is a human right – and privatisation and profit-making should have no place in care giving.”

Workers, trade unions and residents are now looking towards the forthcoming European Care Strategy to safeguard the fundamental right to care. It is essential that the strategy directly addresses the poor working conditions and staff shortages. We need a European Care Strategy that protects workers and residents – and not the companies seeking profit.

Read the press release of CICTAR, CGT-Sante and CFDT-Sante and the full report (in EN, FR) here.

For  more info please contact Chloe Kenny, ckenny@epsu.org +32 (0) 494 89 48 80

France