"The events surrounding Orpea throw a spotlight on serious undesirable developments in the health sector," explained ver.di national executive board member Sylvia Bühler. "Especially in the care of the elderly, there are more and more companies that put short-term profit maximisation above everything else. This must not continue."
In Germany, Orpea operates almost 200 nursing homes and clinics with more than 17,000 beds
On Wednesday, the "Tagesspiegel" reported on research by the network Investigative Europe, according to which the French Orpea group was part of a secret corporate network in which debts and real estate were allegedly shifted back and forth and shareholdings were concealed from the authorities. In Germany, Orpea operates almost 200 nursing homes and clinics with more than 17,000 beds.
"The research solidifies the image of Orpea as a company that is willing to trample law and order in order to make maximum profits," said Bühler. "This also applies to the rights of workers, who are repeatedly harassed when they stand up for their own interests."
In 2018, for example, Orpea subsidiary Celenus tried to dismiss two trade unionists at the rehabilitation clinic in Bad Langensalza, Thuringia, without notice as part of an industrial action, but failed in court. Most recently, dismissal claims against works council members of the Orpea subsidiary Senioren Wohnpark Weser GmbH were rejected by the labour courts as unfounded. Instead, in March this year, the company was ordered to pay 15,000 euros in damages for bullying the chairpersons of the local and European works councils.
Orpea has also been involved in various scandals in its home country of France, where they have led to widespread public criticism and are to be investigated by a Senate committee.
"All companies must abide by the rules and respect the fundamental rights of their employees - especially those that are active in the health sector and finance themselves with public money," Bühler emphasised. "Politicians are called upon to put a stop to such practices and strategies of profit maximisation at the expense of employees, patients and the general public. In the health sector, the common good must be at the centre."