Orpea – case against workers’ chair European Works Council dropped

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(3 March 2023) For years trade unionists were harassed in Orpea. Representatives of the CGT union faced dismissal and court action. The chairperson of the European Works Council, Nicole Meyer, was another victim of the actions of the former management of the group. Local management pursued a strategy of harassment against this trade union and works’ council representative. The former Group management refused to step in and solve the case. Following concerted actions, EPSU has brought an end to these attacks. Ending this case of trade union discrimination was a prerequisite for discussions to rebuild the European social dialogue with the new management. It is a positive sign and creates confidence in building step by step a new corporate culture in which the interests of residents and workers come first. The forthcoming Works Council elections in France are another sign. These elections were necessary after Orpea lost a court case which EPSU affiliates CGT, CFDT and FO had brought against the former management for manipulation and fraudulent work place elections. The new management concluded the necessary agreements with the unions to make sure these new elections can take place.

For EPSU, the obstacles put in place in France by the former company leaders blocked and denied any practice of a constructive social dialogue. EPSU, Verdi (the German union of Nicole) and affiliated unions welcome the end of the numerous legal proceedings and harassment against the EWC chairperson. Not all cases are solved in France, however. EPSU will continue to support the CGT trade union activists still suffering from the same discrimination. We want them to be back in their functions and jobs.

Moreover, in the context of the restructuring undertaken at European level by the group, EPSU will remain vigilant so that rights to information and consultation are upheld; the jobs are protected; and rights of workers respected, including as part of the restructuring. The company - like many others in the sector - faces difficulties in recruiting staff. Workers are crucial to deliver quality care. We do not see a need for dismissals. The commitment in Belgium to keep the jobs of workers in homes for the elderly that will close is positive. Further negotiations between the company and the unions will be necessary to confirm this. We expect such commitments, dialogue and negotiations in other countries that will face restructuring.

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