After years of struggle, Polish UNI Global Union affiliate OPZZ KP is preparing to push for its first collective bargaining agreement at ORPEA—one that will cover all fourteen of the residential care giant’s facilities in the country. The union says this progress was made possible by the long struggle that culminated in the global agreement between UNI and ORPEA signed in April 2022.
Negotiations will begin over issues determined by workers, including fair salaries during a cost-of-living crisis; safe staffing; transparency and accountability for their social solidarity fund; and reducing precarious work. With OPZZ KP’s membership tripling since the global agreement was signed, it is the only union meeting Poland’s threshold for company-wide representation.
“We started organizing in 2018 because we want to provide the best possible care for our residents while being able to support ourselves and our families with dignity,” said Anna Bacia, an ORPEA worker and president of OPZZ KP. “We faced opposition and retaliation, but since our struggle and the global agreement, the company has begun to change its approach to unions. While we still have our disagreements, instead of fighting like a few years ago, we are now developing a relationship much more in the spirit of social partnership.”
Bacia’s was fired for her union leadership in 2019 and was reinstated only after a 2-year campaign by UNI’s care sector that included marches, petitions and global solidarity actions.
Since then, in Poland and globally, the company has installed new management, and it made firm commitments to upholding the rights of its employees, including the fundamental freedoms of trade unions. Now, instead of on a picket line, Bacia is heading toward the bargaining table.
“OPZZ KP is not only transforming ORPEA Poland but changing the entire long-term care sector in the country,” said Adrian Durtschi, Head of UNI Care. “The workers’ dedication and courage are inspiring, and UNI will continue to stand with them as the negotiation their first collective agreement.”