Risks to Battistelli’s control be dismantled?
Summary: The unaccountable thugs who run the EPO have hired London-based spooks to help silence their opposition and their critics
Benoît Battistelli, whose own staff (not his establishment) dislikes him greatly, can only ever pretend to have learned his lessons about the downsides of tyranny. His Napoleonic complex remains in tact and as a result of this we are going to renew our criticism of the EPO’s crooked management.
Weeks ago, seeing that there was talk about recognition of a staff union and reform (“reform of sick leave and invalidity constitutes another severe attack on both dignity and fundamental rights of EPO staff”), we decided to stay quiet, giving an opportunity of reform a chance. There was later “Union Recognition Working Group – Report on the 1st meeting of 11 May 2015″.
“Surveillance on people who cover EPO corruption (including Techrights) is now a fact, not merely a possibility.”To quote one recent bit: “In its 119th session the Tribunal delivered a total of 77 judgments, of which 24 cases involving the EPO. Of the 24 EPO cases, only one case was won by the complainant. The remaining 23 cases were dismissed, 13 summarily. This paper discusses the cases that have broader relevance and the overall implications.”
Things seemed to have calmed down a bit, but different sources have told us about at least 3 nefarious surveillance and cracking companies that EPO hired (or is said to have hired because there is disagreement on which firm/s the EPO actually hired, with Blue Coat seemingly quite likely).
Surveillance on people who cover EPO corruption (including Techrights) is now a fact, not merely a possibility. Some of these surveillance agencies need to intercept or thwart encryption, so cracking is usually within their toolset. There is now public information in SUEPO’s Web site, which says: “SUEPO understands that the company Control Risks has been commissioned by the European Patent Office to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.”
The EPO’s surveillance on staff is an intimidation tactic. Deterrence is the goal. Too bad they don’t know how “blowback” works and how contracting abusive companies (military industrial complex-connected) hurts them in the long run, coinciding with other scandals and reinforcing a perception of corruption and lack of ethics, not to mention gross disregard for the law (Battistelli never cared much about the law, he even snubbed a Hague court’s ruling).
Here is the letter which SUEPO sent to Control Risks:
Nick Allan (Regional Director)
London, SE1 2QG
Crawford Gillies (Chairman),
Richard Fenning (CEO),
Dear Mr Allan,
We understand that your company has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. You should be aware that the EPO is going through a serious crisis in its social relations, caused largely (in our opinion) by a series of controversial reforms initiated by the current President, Mr Battistelli.
The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) firmly believes that several of the reforms affront fundamental human rights. Indeed, in one case that we have been able to present to a national court, the court agreed with SUEPO (see Annex 1).
In reaction to the crisis, the EPO announced an initiative to renew the “social dialogue” (see Annex 2). This renewed social dialogue was not intended to address any of the controversial reforms, but rather to discuss the formal recognition of a Staff Union that has existed for more than 35 years and to which some 50% of the staff of the EPO are members. Although sceptical about the real intentions of the administration, SUEPO accepted the offer to talk. Yet while these talks are on-going, the Office apparently pursues one or more investigations against its newly found, but not yet formally recognized, “social partner”.
This is not the first time that staff representatives in the EPO have come under fire from Mr Battistelli. Last year several elected staff representatives and experts nominated by the staff representation have been investigated and/or disciplined. The disciplinary measures imposed by the President were significantly more severe than the proportionate measures – if any – recommended by the disciplinary committee.
We understand that Control Risks’ has a Code of Ethics and Human Rights policy. The former states that “If Control Risks has reason to believe that in undertaking an activity it would be complicit in human rights abuses committed by others, it will avoid that activity. ” The latter adds that “our employees are never to be complicit in human rights abuses.” We note that your company also adheres to the widely accepted UN Global Compact’s “ten principles”.
As indicated above, SUEPO is of the opinion that in particular the human resource policies and reforms currently implemented by the Office are repressive and serially offend fundamental human rights. For example, the unlawful restrictions on freedom of association have been confirmed by the Dutch court judgment. The right to engage in collective bargaining has never been recognized by the EPO, nor has the Staff Union been formally recognized, an apparent prerequisite (see “historic” talks) to being treated as a social partner. The list of staff grievances is long (see Annex 3) and ever lengthening.
To provide further context, you will find below further references to a selection of publicly available information about the current EPO “situation”. We cannot provide you with any of the internal material since this would be deemed to offend our EPO internal regulations, which are themselves also confidential. However, the cited documents and further information are available on our website: http://www.suepo.org/public/news
SUEPO is not aware of any wrong doing on our side, so we conclude that any investigation serves no other purpose than to intimidate, harass or simply silence Staff / Union representatives who oppose the present regime at the EPO.
We respectfully ask Control Risks to exercise due diligence by verifying both whether the commission from the EPO is “proper” and whether accepting this commission is fully in line with your company’s code of ethics.
We remain at your disposition should you wish to discuss this situation.
For information about “Control Risks” see Source Watch and see also WikiSpooks. To quote some relevant bits: “The majority of their clients are large multi-nationals; they state that more than 90 per cent of the FTSE 100 use one or more of their services [...] CRG is a member of the British Association of Private Security Companies and the Private Security Company Association of Iraq.”
There is definitely more coming. We shall keep an eye on this. As we assured at the start, this gross, crude, unethical and potentially illegal behaviour from EPO management is only going to motivate us to write more about EPO abuses, not less. █