Hearing the news that UNI Global Union reached a global agreement with French care provider ORPEA, care workers and unions around the world say they are ready to put its principles into practice.
The agreement, signed 8 April at the OECD in Paris, makes strong commitments to upholding the rights of ORPEA’s 70,000 employees including the fundamental freedoms of trade unions. It also establishes conditions for productive social dialogue and collective bargaining.
In addition to promoting trade union rights, ORPEA pledges to avoid precarious work, pay a decent wage and enshrine workers’ voices on issues such as staffing ratios. The agreement holds the company accountable through strong, binding enforcement mechanisms. It is the first agreement of its kind in the care industry.
Unions show support for the agreement
Anna Bacia, ORPEA Worker, OPZZ-KP, Poland:
I was fired for organizing a union. Thanks to UNI Care’s campaign and support I was reinstated two years later. My co-workers and I know firsthand the difference a union makes to the residents we care for. I am happy that ORPEA is committing itself to work with unions as partners. No one else should have to go through what I had to.
Miguel Zubieta UNICare Global President, FATSA, Argentina:
The global agreement between UNI and ORPEA is an essential tool for improving the quality of life for nursing home workers. Respect for workers’ fundamental rights will be reflected in better care for the people they look after.
We enthusiastically welcome the signing of this agreement. It represents the realization of UNI’s mission in care: organized workers with collective rights, particularly in nursing homes where they have been hard hit by the effects of the pandemic.
Frederic Favraud, President UNI Care Europa, France, said:
is an essential tool for trade unions to be able, while respecting their independence and prerogatives, to exercise their fundamental role in defending interests, rights and working conditions.
- by strengthening the rights and working conditions of employees,
- by affirming verbatim the full recognition of trade union rights including collective bargaining, accompanied by the means necessary for the implementation of such recognition,
- by including the explicit prohibition of any form of coercion against the exercise of the right to organize,
- by guaranteeing freedom in all its aspects both for employees in their right to form, use and join trade unions and for activists in the right to freely carry out their mission,
For UNICARE, this agreement is a decisive step forward, to the credit of all its affiliated unions and their tenacity in the relentless struggle for years to defend their right to exist and protect the interests of all workers.
This agreement is not an end in itself. It is a founding pillar allowing workers around the world to assert their rights and obtain their demands, in all the establishments of the ORPEA group as well as in those under its control.
For UNICARE, this agreement inaugurates a new social legal context within the company that must in the rapid future be concretized by significant and lasting improvements regarding the rights and working conditions of the staff of the ORPEA group. These improvements also contribute to strengthening the quality of service due to residents. This is progress for all!
UNICARE will continue its action with determination to ensure that this agreement materializes as stated.
Jana Pohlová, ORPEA worker and union leader, Czechia:
As a caregiver in a nursing home and the chairwoman of a union in ORPEA/Senecura in Czechia, I support the global agreement with ORPEA because it will allow us to further improve our working conditions. I believe it will be beneficial not only for us employees, but also for the clients we care for.
Samuel Burri, UNIA Co-Head of Long-term Care, Switzerland:
The pandemic has shown how desperately long-term care workers need a union. Collective bargaining can transform these jobs from low paying, dangerous, and physically and emotionally draining to sustainable, quality jobs with dignity. And this global agreement with ORPEA can transform this industry in Switzerland and beyond.
Anderson Peralta, Sintrasass National President, Colombia:
Having an enforceable global agreement that guarantees access and non-interference can mean the difference between having a union and not. In Colombia, where ORPEA will soon open their first facilities, this agreement means that workers and unions can stand up for better jobs without fear of death threats or violence. We see this agreement as a shield against the type of fear unionists often face when organizing.
Gloria Flores, President of FENASSAP, Chile:
This global agreement with the multinational ORPEA is wonderful news for trade unionism in general. It opens opportunities and creates motivation to continue breaking down barriers.
Jorge Bermudez, FUS President, Uruguay:
With the growth of ORPEA and other geriatric multinationals in Uruguay and the rest of Latin America, the global agreement signed with ORPEA is an important tool we now have to strengthen unions and improve working conditions in this vital sector.
Juliana Karine Machado Rodrigues, Federation of Healthcare Workers of the State of São Paulo, Brazil:
With foreign capital flooding the care sector in the country and the labor reform stripping rights, this new agreement with ORPEA is going to be an important tool in campaigning to ensure decent conditions in elder care, for both professionals and patients.
Eva Scherz, GPA, Austria:
ORPEA workers need better working conditions. This agreement puts unions in a better position to negotiate them.