Dozens of reports of abusive behaviour at Plopsa

Dozens of reports of abusive behaviour at Plopsa
Credit: Studio 100

Dozens of witnesses have reported undesirable behaviour at Plopsa theme park, an investigation published Saturday by Flemish newspaper De Tijd revealed. Staff complained of insults, an exaggerated 24/7 work culture, humiliation and divide-and-conquer tactics.

Studio 100 (Plopsa’s parent company) said in response that it takes the reports very seriously and has launched a thorough and independent investigation. The company has commissioned lawyer Christine Mussche to investigate Plopsa’s corporate culture after Hans Bourlon, the CEO of Studio 100 and a director of Plopsa, was informed of the dozens of testimonies collected by De Tijd.

The newspaper spoke to 52 people between November and February last year. They are mainly former employees of various departments of the Belgian branch of Plopsa: human resources, IT, accounting, sales and marketing, purchasing, and Plopsa Hotel. 45 of them reported incidents with management between 2003 and today.

Bullying and blackmail

A pattern of undesirable behaviour emerges from these interviews. Steve Van den Kerkhof, the CEO of Plopsa, is identified as the instigator, supported by his two managers. The witnesses speak of abusive behaviour, insults, an exaggerated 24/7 work culture where holidays and rest periods are not respected, bullying and playing people off against each other.

Van den Kerkhof strongly denies the allegations and insisted that non-executives operate under “a collective labour agreement of 50 hours a week and 11 hours a day."

Plopsa Group CEO Steve Van den Kerkhof poses at the official opening of the Plopsaqua water park, June 2021. BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

The Plopsa CEO also refutes accusations of humiliating workers, admitting only that he “closely monitors and adjusts if necessary” certain departments whose performance he is concerned about. But “in no case are departments and/or individuals pitted against each other, or gossip is spread by myself."

The theme park boss also says he has never received any complaints. “Neither internally (via the works council, the prevention committee, the trade union delegation or the person of trust), nor via our external prevention service Liantis. The well-being surveys have also always been positive.”

In the company Studio Plopsa, based in De Panne, which has about 75 permanent workers, turnover is high. According to many accounts, the reason for this lies not only in the management and personality of Steve Van den Kerkhof but also in his close collaborators.


“As long as the investigation is ongoing, we retain confidence in the management of Plopsa,” reacted Studio 100, which says it takes these reports very seriously. Plopsa’s parent company stressed that “ensuring a safe environment for both workers and visitors remains a top priority.”

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