Bonum Certa Men Certa

Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

See part one and part two for more background about this brewing European Patent Office (EPO) scandal

Luftsicherkeit



Summary: A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi

In recent years the Kötter Group has received a lot of negative press coverage in Germany, for example due to the poor quality of the services it has provided in the field of airport security. In its Annual Report for 2017, Düsseldorf Airport noted that:



"Düsseldorf Airport also noted that in September 2017 it had considered taking legal action against Kötter Security..."“Terminal operations were largely impacted by the understaffing of Kötter Security, a company contracted by the German Federal Police to man the security points in accordance with Section 5 of the German Aviation Security Act (Luftsicherheitsgesetz) – a situation which has been steadily worsening since the end of June 2017 –, and the deficient performance of the providers of, for example, check-in or baggage unloading services on behalf of the airlines".

Düsseldorf Airport also noted that in September 2017 it had considered taking legal action against Kötter Security "in view of the massive constraints experienced as a result of the understaffing of its security points, which has led to long queues in the terminal of NRW's most important airport in recent weeks."

Kötter Duesseldorf streik



The record shows that Kötter has repeatedly come under fire from German trade unions such as Verdi for its questionable employment practices, including its failure to adhere to collective bargaining agreements and its attempts to force its employees to sign no-strike agreements (see also here).

Kötter text



There is also a long history of involvement in strike-breaking practices (see here, here, here and here) and further controversies involving claims of doctored training certificates for security staff.

"But despite all of the negative PR and labour relations problems, the Group’s boss Friedrich P. Kötter doesn’t seem to be too worried."It’s hardly surprising that one commentator has seen fit to describe Kötter in somewhat euphemistic terms as “a company open to criticism” (“ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”).

But despite all of the negative PR and labour relations problems, the Group’s boss Friedrich P. Kötter doesn’t seem to be too worried.

Sicherheit



The private security business in Germany is booming and Mr. Kötter is probably laughing all the way to the bank – quite literally.

Kötter Geldtransport car



In 2013 the Kötter Group had 15,500 employees and a turnover of EUR 380 million. By 2018 this had expanded to 18,500 employees and the turnover was reported as EUR 540 million.

Unfortunately its employees don’t seem to have it so good. The German media has recently reported about working conditions in the private security industry under the headline “Viel Druck für wenig Geld” which translates as “a lot of pressure for little money”.

"In 2013 the Kötter Group had 15,500 employees and a turnover of EUR 380 million. By 2018 this had expanded to 18,500 employees and the turnover was reported as EUR 540 million."In 2017, the German press reported that 24 employees who had been hired by Kötter to work on security duty for the Munich Octoberfest had to be taken to hospital as a result of food poisoning. This was reportedly caused by food delivered by a catering service and consumed in a canteen which did not comply with basic hygiene standards. One of the Oktoberfest guards complained to the press that he and his colleagues had been treated like animals and billeted in a filthy, mould-infested hotel.

But who cares about the occasional moaning of disaffected employees? The mood at the top is bullish. At the start of 2019, Mr. Kötter announced that he was looking forward to expanding into new market areas with the help of “Big Data” and – wait for it – “Artificial Intelligence”. Sounds like the perfect partner for Team Campinos.

In the fourth and final part it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and have a look at some hitherto unexplored chapters of corporate history as the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its foundation.

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