The goal of the global agreement between ORPEA and UNI is to improve working conditions for nursing home workers through expanding collecting bargaining worldwide.
We regret that the timing of our recent announcement of an agreement with ORPEA gave some the false impression that the agreement was intended to sanitize the company’s reputation. As trade unionists, we understand why an agreement in the context of several ongoing disputes would trigger controversy.
We would like to correct some misunderstandings.
This agreement does not indicate UNI’s approval of ORPEA’s treatment of—or relationship with—unions and workers in France nor will it interfere with French unions’ ongoing disputes with the company, or change anything in France. We respect French unions’ role on both the national and global stage, where many French unions have been valued partners in UNI’s global agreements, and we would not act to undermine them.
The agreement follows years of UNI’s work in connection with ORPEA to point out that the company has not respected workers’ rights in the many countries in which it operates. It is a result of our direct support for unions which are organizing workers in countries outside of France—where it is very difficult for unions to achieve representational status. UNI signed this agreement in order to support these efforts. Through this agreement, our affiliates in countries like Chile, Colombia or even Poland, will have expanded rights to speak with workers, to train managers against anti-union conduct, to hold the company accountable.
In these countries, this agreement is a big step forward in connection with the rights of those unions which are struggling to become established. It will change workers’ jobs, and it will change their lives. But it does not change the ongoing struggle France.