When workers at Celenus’ REHA Clinic in the German town of Bad Langensalza wanted to improve their pay and working conditions, the company—part of the French multi-national ORPEA group—rolled out a vicious anti-union campaign.
The workers, members of Ver.di, have been fighting for the past year for a collective bargaining agreement on wages to bring them in-line with industry standards. For example, these Celenus workers make 42 per cent less than employees at the comparable “Deutsche Rentenversicherung” clinics. However, the company has refused to put forth a reasonable offer in negotiations.
That is why 95 per cent of the Ver.di members voted to strike at the company.
To block the strike, the company has responded with hard-ball union busting tactics: It has fired two activists from the Ver.di contract bargaining team and locked out five other union supporters—including the head of the works council.
Celenus has ignored arbitration offers from the Labor Minister of Thüringen, the region the clinic is in, and of the mayor of Bad Langensalza.
In the face of this anti-union hostility, Ver.di and workers have answered with an indefinite strike.
“Celenus and parent company ORPEA’s disregard for workers’ rights is deeply troubling—not only for employees but also for patients. High quality of care is associated with well paid, well trained, experienced, and happy caregivers, and Celenus appears to be working against its clinic staff rather than supporting them,” said Adrian Durtschi, Head of UNI Care.
“ORPEA, Celenus’ owner, has an unfortunate pattern of disrespecting workers’ rights, and it is a pattern that we want to see stopped right now.”
Celenus has 19 clinics in Germany, including one ambulant REHA clinic and one health center, as well as other REHA Centers under the Salvea brand. The German market has been lucrative for ORPEA.