EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.08.15

Spanish Media on Reign of Terror at EPO: Managerial Misconduct, Blocked E-mails (Censorship), and Abuse of Legal Immunity

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Público

Summary: Spanish article from Público translated into English, demonstrating the greater role played by the media these days

THE EPO‘s management, knowing that it is already in a lot of trouble, has resorted to hiring thugs, attacking staff, censoring its network, and so on. It’s symptomatic of an abusive regime that feels threatened, for if staff (making up the EPO) and by extension the European public (subsiding the EPO) knew what EPO management was up to, prosecution too would be a possibility, not just the dead end of some people’s career.

“Público,” wrote SUEPO, “published an article (printable version) titled “The European Patent Office is violating labour laws, according to the employees”.

“The article reports on the authoritarian drift of the European Patent Office under the presidency of Mr Battistelli with the introduction of an investigation unit (supported by Control Risks), the increase in disciplinary procedures and the violation of fundamental rights of staff with the latest health care reform (lack of confidentiality of medical records and house arrests for invalids).”

Here is the collection of translations [PDF] with emphasis added where it matters:

The European Patent Office is violating labour laws, according to the employees

Trade union sources claim that the President of the organization has imposed a ruling which is having a massive effect on the health of the employees, their pensions, and their labour rights, such as the right to strike.

CAROLINA GARCÍA MUNDI

MADRID.- The European Patent Office (EPO) is encountering first-hand the problems of the employees. The President of the organization since 2010, and also President of the Administrative Council of the EPO, Benoît Battistelli, “is managing the Office in an authoritarian and antisocial manner, which is causing problems at the Office”. This at least is the view expressed by sources at SUEPO, the Staff Union of the European Patent Office, in statements made to Público.

The EPO, with headquarters in Munich and three branch offices in The Hague, Berlin, and Vienna, has a staff of 7,000 people, 480 of them Spanish nationals. The employees insist that the measures being imposed by Battistelli are having a massive effect on them. “Not only the rules about patents, but also about pensions, health, employees’ rights”. The President of the EPO, which is responsible for validating inventions and the patenting of them, is also the President of the Administrative Council. The Council is formed of 38 members, representing the 38 countries which make up the European Patent and Trademark Office, and is responsible for personnel matters as well as for defining the financial structure and arrangements, and the President is making his voice very clearly heard: He is the person who has the last word; he is the legislator.

In 2014, Benoît Battistelli imposed a ruling which is prejudicial to the rights of the employees in matters relating to trade unions, labour relations, and medical benefits. Labour rights in particular have come under attack. “He’s going to be the person who decides whether or not there’s going to be a strike, and how long it can go on”. “There’s massive repression being imposed”, sources in the trade union insist.

The staff can also be placed under investigation if someone utters an anonymous denunciation against them. They are told that they are going to be investigated, including the personal E-mails, but they can’t do anything about it. “The only people you can talk to are your wife and your doctor”.

One spokesperson for the union believes, however, that the investigation was only started because the person concerned was a significant member of the union, which was putting pressure on the Administrative Council and on Battistelli.

The basic rights of the employees are being violated, in particular with regard to their health. Battistelli is taking pseudo-medical decisions and “targeting people who are ill”, union members maintain. And there’s more: “The doctor, appointed by the President, decides whether a person is ill or not, while up to now three opinions were sought from three different doctors. If a person reports sick, they have to produce a certificate on the third day, and you can be subjected to examinations in your own home if you’re ill”.

As well as this, the medical records of each employee are stored on a database, and the staff have no idea who controls it. Confidentiality of medical records is a right and an obligation. In Spain, if confidentiality is breached, it may be treated as a criminal offence.

Pensions are also coming under attack. 30% of the salary of each employee is put into a savings fund every month. However, if you come from the State in which you are working, this pension can be reduced. “If I go to the State where I’m living, I’m breaking a rule and they penalize me. For example, if a Spanish national contracts a terminal illness, he can’t go back to Spain until he’s 55. If you do go, they can take disciplinary action and cut the pension”.

The EPO union has also come under fire. Union members have been having their E-mails blocked, from within the Office and outside. They cannot communicate with one another. They cannot complain, because if they do so under their real name they lay themselves open to disciplinary procedures. This situation, in which privacy is being violated, would constitute a criminal offence in Spain, as a lawyer confirmed (responsible for the case of the EPO personnel).

This breach of basic rights of the staff has already been brought before the courts. Sources from the SUEPO union confirm that the ruling by the Dutch court of second instance was in their favour, requiring Battistelli to revoke this ruling and to allow union members to continue sending E-mails, as well as obliging him to begin negotiating with the union.

But the decision by the court got nowhere. Battistelli issued a memo to all the staff to inform them that he was not going to abide by the ruling, because “it is dangerous for the Office for these initiatives to be taken, which are supported by the union, the primary concern of which should be to defend the interests of the personnel. You can nevertheless count on my perseverance and commitment to defending our organization”. Sources from the union maintain that this memo “is a propaganda exercise and an attack on immunity”.

Immunity is something which all the international organizations have. The implication is that the individual organization itself is independent and is not subject to the laws of the country in which it is based. This characteristic, however, comes to create great power, which can then degenerate into abuse. “They are using this immunity to change the rules about labour relations, about the unions, about health, and about basic rights and liberties. This is an abuse of immunity”, is how union sources condemn the action.

“The European Parliament is dodging the issue”

SUEPO, the trade union of the European Patent and Trademark Office, has contacted a number of national parliaments: The Netherlands, Luxemburg, and the European Parliament.

This was done in an anonymous and personal way, under the essential precondition that the identity of the persons concerned be kept secret so as not to be thrown out of their jobs. They simply provided the information needed for the parliamentarians to investigate and pursue the matter with the European Commission. The reaction by the European Commissioners and the politicians, however, has been entirely passive, dodging the issue on the pretext that the EPO is an independent international organization. “It is not part of the European Union, and they have no authority over it. They do have political authority, but they’re doing nothing”, according to union members.

“Battistelli makes the rules, he’s the judge and jury. He ought to be at least supervised by the Member States”, union sources insist. “But nothing is supervised, not the money or the power. The EPO does not receive money from the Member States; on the contrary, they reap a lot of benefit from it”, as the sources confirm.

“We have no legal recourse when it comes to labour relations”

All the employees, regardless of whether they are part of the union or not, take the same view. “We don’t have any legal recourse for labour issues, because the judge is the President”. They are in an indefensible situation; they cannot defend their fundamental rights if they cannot change the rules, and Battistelli makes the rules.

The only way they can exert any pressure is by way of the International Labour Organization (ILO), but with the difficulty that they cannot pursue claims as a union, but only as individuals. “Action by a union is vetoed. The EPO is not obliged to change the rules because the claim has to be from an individual, and only affecting that individual”, they maintain.

A law firm in Madrid has been contacted to pursue the issue. “By way of a media campaign, contact with the CCOO and UGT unions so as to access to the European Trade Union Confederation, contact with parliamentary groups, and with the representative of the Spanish Government, Patricia García Escudero, we are aiming to reopen negotiations, as well as pursuing legal recourse in Spain, despite the immunity”, is the view taken by one of the attorneys handling the case.

In the coming days we are going to look deeper into how the EPO stepped out of rationality, choosing to police people by force and intimidation.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Microsoft is Now in the Technical Advisory Board of the Linux Foundation

    Techrights politely takes note of the growing role (or roles) of Microsoft employees inside the Linux Foundation; there are now at least half a dozen people



  2. Two Things IBM and Microsoft Have in Common: Layoffs and Fake Hype Like 'Clown Computing' and 'Hey Hi' (AI) as Perceived 'Opportunity' for 'Growth'

    The infamous pair of monopolists, Microsoft and IBM, are both suffering during the COVID-19 lock-downs (no matter how hard they try to spin it and/or distract from it)



  3. IBM (Red Hat) Lectured FSF That It Needed More Diversity, But Was It Looking at the Mirror? IBM and Red Hat Are Even Less Diverse.

    Techrights examines Red Hat’s (IBM’s) hypocritical claims about the Free Software Foundation, founded by Richard Stallman back when IBM was the “big scary monopolist”; IBM employees were prominent among those pushing to oust Stallman from the GNU Project, which he founded, as well



  4. IRC Proceedings: Friday, June 05, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, June 05, 2020



  5. Guix Petition Demographic Data, by Figosdev

    That old anti-RMS letter, which called for his removal (or resignation) from GNU (RMS is the founder of the GNU Project), as characterised by metadata of signatories



  6. When You Realise People Who Don't Support RMS Do Not Really Support GNU, Either

    The (in)famous letter against Richard Stallman (RMS), which was signed by many Red Hat employees with Microsoft (GitHub) accounts, doesn’t look particularly good in light of recent revelations/findings; it increasingly looks like IBM simply wants Microsoft-hosted and “permissively” licensed stuff, just like another project it announced yesterday and another that it promoted yesterday



  7. The Gates Press (GatesGate) -- Part III: What Happens When You Tell the Truth About Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

    One might not expect this from a so-called 'charity'; the Gates Foundation's critics are often met with unprecedented aggression, threats and retribution, which make one wonder if it's really a charity or a greedy cult of personalities (Bill and Melinda)



  8. Links 6/6/2020: Bifrost Meets GNOME, Wine 5.10 is Out

    Links for the day



  9. Links 5/6/2020: LibreELEC (Leia) 9.2.3, Rust 1.44.0, and Hamburg's Pivot to Free/Libre Software

    Links for the day



  10. This Article About GitHub Takeover Never Appeared (Likely Spiked by Microsoft and Its Friends Inside the Media)

    And later they wonder why people distrust so much of the media (where paying advertisers set the agenda/tone)



  11. Raw: How Microsoft and/or the EPO Killed an Important EPO Story About Their SLAPP Against Techrights and Others

    Spiking a story about spiked stories about corruption



  12. The Linux Foundation 'Bootcamp' -- Badly Timed and Badly Named in June 2020 -- Only Uses Linus Torvalds Like a 'Prop' (for Legitimacy) While Promoting Militarised Monopolies

    Sometimes a picture says a lot more than words, especially in light of political events in the US and a certain Chinese anniversary we cannot name (Microsoft censors mentions of it)



  13. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 04, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 04, 2020



  14. The Gates Press (GatesGate) -- Part II: When Media That You Bribe Calls All Your Critics 'Conspiracy Theorists' (to Keep Them Silenced, Marginalised)

    The assault on the media by Bill Gates is a subject not often explored by the media (maybe because a lot of it is already bribed by him); but we're beginning to gather new and important evidence that explains how critics are muzzled (even fired) and critical pieces spiked, never to see the light of day anywhere



  15. GitHub is Not Sharing But 'Theft' by Microsoft

    Microsoft buying GitHub does not demonstrate that Microsoft loves Open Source (GitHub is not Open Source and may never be) but that it loves monopoly and coercion (what GitHub is all about and why it must be rejected)



  16. The Huge Damage (Except for Patent Lawyers' Bottom Line) Caused by Fake European Patents

    The European Patent Office (EPO) keeps granting fake patents that cause a lot of real harm (examiners are pressured to play along and participate in this unlawful agenda); nobody is happy except those who profit from needless, frivolous lawsuits



  17. Red Hat/IBM Got 'Tired' of RMS. Is It Getting 'Tired' of GPL/Copyleft Too?

    After contributing to the cancellation of Richard Stallman (RMS) based on some falsehoods perpetuated in the media we're seeing the sort of thing one might expect from IBM (more so now that it totally controls Fedora and RHEL)



  18. Links 4/6/2020: Proton 5.0-8 Release Candidate, GNU Linux-libre 5.7

    Links for the day



  19. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 03, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, June 03, 2020



  20. Social Engineering of Free Software, Based on Corporate Criteria

    What "professional" nowadays means in the context of coding and honest assessment of technical work



  21. Weakening GNU/Linux by Disempowering Its Leaders and Founders, Replacing Them With Microsoft Employees and GNU/Linux-Hostile Moles

    The coup to remove (or remove power from) Stallman and Torvalds, the GNU and Linux founders respectively, is followed by outsourcing of their work to Microsoft’s newly-acquired monopoly (GitHub) and appointment of Microsoft workers or Microsoft-friendly people, shoehorning them into top roles under the disingenuous guise of "professionalism"



  22. Sword Group Violates Its Own Commitment by Working for the EPO

    The European Patent Office (EPO) keeps outsourcing its work to outside contractors (for-profit private entities) to the tune of hundreds of millions if not billions — all this without any oversight



  23. In 2020 Canonical No Longer Fights for Freedom

    Freedom requires a GNU/Linux distro other than Ubuntu, which seems unwilling or unable/incapable of speaking about and promoting the ideals of GNU/Linux



  24. We Need to Use the F Word (Freedom) to Promote Adoption of GNU/Linux

    "People get the government their behavior deserves. People deserve better than that." -Richard Stallman



  25. People Who Want to Explore GNU/Linux With Ubuntu See This Today

    "Wait, am I in a GNU/Linux blog or another Windows blog," a visitor might think... or, is Microsoft 'taking over' messaging at Canonical? (Same with code)



  26. Links 4/6/2020: Septor 2020.3, Nextcloud and Blender 2.83

    Links for the day



  27. Hey, Where's Red Hat (IBM)?

    Red Hat is conspicuously silent at these critical times (in its home country); Must be too busy hailing and cashing in on Trump's military (state) while dishing out shallow and self-contradictory diversity PR/fluff…



  28. Microsoft's Latest Vapourware About Supercomputers

    Microsoft has spent almost two decades dropping supercomputers vapourware on the media, but those misinformation dumps always turn out to be 100% hot air, no substance



  29. 2020: A Time for Resolutions or Revolutions?

    There are nonviolent means by which the current system can be corrected; we need to convince peers and relatives to change the way they behave and not cooperate with unjust elements of the system



  30. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 02, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, June 02, 2020


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts