Dietmar Hopp, the founder of the German business software giant SAP, has never tried to conceal his hostility towards works councils.
“Our main competitors don’t have externally controlled works councils,” he reminded his employees in 2006, when one of Germany’s largest unions first pushed through elections for the employee bodies.
“I don’t spread pessimism, but do you want to be represented by people who receive directives from external sources?”, Hopp warned.
But it seems that the 74-year-old has since warmed to his pesky employees.
Since 2010, Mr. Hopp has given €5.1 million to the “family & kids @work” charity through his foundation. And SAP has given the not-for-profit, which runs two kindergartens near SAP’s HQ in Walldorf, free use of a 6,000 square meter property, and donated another €3.7 million.
However, some SAP employees have veiewed the largesse as suspicious, resulting in a festering internal dispute at the company.