Not really sick during the holidays. Now what?

Since more than 20 years we’ve a factory with 150 employees. Every summer we close for 2 weeks, everyone has holidays during this period. We noticed, and this summer as well, during these 2 weeks many employees call in sick. This means they get their salary paid by us, and save their holiday for later. They keep the right to get these days as holiday during the year. The doctor they have to go, to to get the ‘proof’ they’re sick, gives this paper easily, meaning, for just a small amount of money he writes whatever they want. We know this for sure, this unfortunately custom in this country.

Before we closed this summer we’ve hold a speech for everyone, we’ve been straightforward, we’re aware what’s happening and we don’t accept this behaviour. But… Knowing that someone is not sick, and proving it, is not that easy.

It’s hard for me to deal with this. We’re offering a good salary, helping people out when they need help (with their children, school anything), they may use products from the factory at home when asked for (we also had to conclude that still people prefer to steal!).

Since years we are focusing on an environment where openness, that is not custom here, pays off for everyone. So how do we deal with this behaviour?
I know I can only change my thoughts, and can’t stop them from doing things I don’t want them to do. But it’s our business, our money, our investment. And in the end the employees that stick to the sensible rules suffer because of the rotten apples.
We’re from another country but live here for >20 years, speak the language etc etc.

C. Employees call in sick when being fit to save their holiday
T. I like to fire them
F. Angry
A. Looking for a way to prove their behaviour, hold another speech, contact the doctor, see if we can find another doctor.
R. Get them out, keep the honest people

C. Same
T. We still didn’t succeed in changing the culture, after >20 years
F. Devastated
A. Give up, find a way to sell the factory
R. We leave without any change made in the culture

I wrote these models and am not sure if I like them. For me it isn’t a neutral situation. I get that it is neutral. For the workers that betray us it’s total different model, so it’s neutral. They might feel proud or clever, when I feel betrayed.

Do you have any feedback for me?
Thank you.