For-profit care giant Orpea under fire - again

Orpea for-profit care

(27 January 2022) A recently published book ‘Les fossoyeurs’ (The Gravediggers) by investigative journalist Victor Castanet has exposed the dark realities of Europe’s ‘grey economy’. The investigation focuses on the Orpea Group, Europe’s largest for-profit care provider. The exposé details the shocking consequences of the company’s penny-pinching:  from elder abuse to workers’ rights violations, all supported by creative accounting and a misuse of public funds.

Orpea’s scandals are not news to EPSU. In 2019, workers from Bad Langensalza in central Germany engaged in 202 days of strike action against Celenus, a subsidiary of Orpea. The strike for a collective agreement was met with a campaign of harsh union-busting from the employer. Union workers were dismissed without notice; others were locked out. Another German subsidiarity of Orpea, Residenz-Gruppe, engaged in a sustained campaign to dismiss the works council chair and her deputy, expel them from the works council and dissolve the works council itself. These are just two examples of the Orpea group’s long documented anti-union actions.

The book’s revelations have sparked a large public backlash. The company’s share prices plummeted following the publication of excerpts on Monday, 24 January, leading the company to suspend trading. The allegations have also reached the French government, who have summoned Orpea’s CEO for immediate questioning.

Newly published research from Investigate Europe has also exposed contract abuse within Orpea’s care homes. French labour laws indicate fixed-term contracts must be of a temporary nature and cannot be used to replace what should be permanent jobs. Orpéa has instead engaged in a complex scheme involving irregular work contracts in order to avoid hiring permanent staff.

‘Les fossoyeurs: révélations sur le système qui maltraite nos aînés’ by Victor Castanet is published by Fayard. Learn more here.

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