Support those at the top, for this is part of Battistelli’s decapitation strategy (no guillotines but prevention of organised actions)
Summary: The Staff Union of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, is organising another action against the management’s union-busting moves that culminated in sacking, pension reduction, and a terrible atmosphere of fear and terror
WE ARE trying quite hard to provide a complete picture — irrespective of the consequences — of EPO union-busting actions and what these have involved. Transparency is truth and truth is a sworn enemy of Team Battistelli. We are still hoping to get the text of the internal announcement from Battistelli (we need to prepare a rebuttal for it) and we are still in pursuit of English translations (from German) of two articles, one from Heise and another from journalists in Munich. There are various secure ways to contact us, including E-mail over Tor.
“The SUEPO is banned by Battistelli and has to be replaced by a ¨Union¨ according to his model and wishes.”
–AnonymousA lot of people have been posting information in IP Kat, where anonymous comments (not anonymous to Google) can be posted. One person pointed out today that: “From his decision to fire and downgrade SUEPO officials it is clear that for Battistelli individual people does not matter. What is important for him, he believes, is a strong central management. Individuals have to be forced to accept the roles given to them in the office. Examiners are producers, workers for him. These workers experience now that their rights at work are more and more taken away. The SUEPO is banned by Battistelli and has to be replaced by a ¨Union¨ according to his model and wishes.
“Battistelli studied at the ENA is a so called énarque.The énarques were criticised as early as the 1960s for their technocratic and arrogant ways. Such criticism has continued up to present times, with the énarques being accused of monopolizing positions in higher administration [the EPO] and politics without having to show real competence. It has become a recurrent theme for many French politicians to criticise ENA, even when they themselves are alumni of the school.”
We previously wrote a great deal about Battistelli’s ÉNA roots and his connections with powerful people [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Networking with them seems to be his most notable ‘skill’. Responding to someone's claim that pension cuts may be “blatantly illegal”, one person responded as follows:
The EPO certainly has the right to cut pensions, it says so in the service regulations. Actually, when one reads the service regulations, the EPO can even do that more than once, cutting your pension by a third with each round. The EPO can also do that to pensioners and widows. And the President can decides what he wants and fire you even when the disciplinary committee says otherwise, as he did with Ion Brumme. Obviously, the service regulations were not written in that spirit, and were never used this way in 40 years, but Battistelli is sticking to the letter of the law. And ILO will certainly find it this way as well, in practice ILO only checks whether the service regulations were correctly applied.
Further, the service regulations can be changed at will, as the EPO personal recently found out: career cuts, suppression of invalidity insurance, etc… When you enter the EPO, you sign a contract which you have to respect under penalty of being fired and have your pension cuts… and the EPO can change its end of the deal whenever they want. This kind of contract have a legal name, but nobody realized what they were really offered when they entered the EPO. Now they realize but they can’t get out.
Also, this is not only the EPO staff. Patent attorneys would be well advised to check how easily the EPO could damage them. The rumor (unverified, maybe someone knows more?) is that some attorneys were already “gently advised” to stay quiet in their private blogs. Obviously, the attorneys can’t get out either, but they have not realized the full extent of the deal yet.
The EPO was given enormous powers and a wide-ranging immunity, with very little check and balances to compensate them. There is not even a decent control system of the EPO finances and the EPO is producing 300 millions a year in surpluses. Anybody can imagine the consequences. Battistelli put one of his old good friends to audit the EPO finances.
Speaking of EPO finances, look how (and by who) money got wasted at an amazing pace. The management of the EPO is a disaster at so many levels. “The current penalty of 20% of pension,” wrote another person, “clearly leaves room to increase that to 1/3 if the fired person does not go quietly and/or discloses any details. Likewise, those fired without deduction still risk further steps if they, for instance, discuss their cases without permission. Note also the desire to control former staff’s employment (denied by the AC) which, of course, be enforced by attacking any outstanding pension rights. As you say, BB has seen the opportunity for unfettered control and is using it.”
“The management of the EPO is a disaster at so many levels.”The staff at the EPO is showing high levels of unrest by signing petitions in record numbers, protesting in record numbers, and complaining (anonymously of course) to the media. The EPO's PR team has nothing positive to say these days, so its “following orders”/”it came from above” staff still links to self-manufactured (and paid-for) greenwashing PR every 2-3 days (here is the latest example, citing a page last updated 1.5 months ago!).
A SUEPO demonstration is going to proceed as planned. It’s a day and a half away (later this week). “Actions continue at the European Patent Office,” SUEPO’s site stated today, “next demonstration on 20 January 2016 [...] The next demonstration will take place on Wednesday 20 January starting from the ISAR building at 12.30h. The demonstrators will march peacefully to the Bayerische Staatskanzlei.”
Well, maybe half of all EPO staff (or more) is going to attend. It’s very plausible.
“A SUEPO demonstration is going to proceed as planned.”Support for SUEPO comes from a lot of people out there, including Jeremy Phillips, who recently retired.
“Just spotted,” he wrote, “that the @EPOorg has sacked two union officials and downgraded a third” (severely downgraded).
“I’m hugely disappointed with the @EPOorg,” he added, “and the pusillanimous manner in which the Administrative Council oversees it” (this is why people must contact their delegates, which shouldn’t be too hard).
SUEPO has also just published a “Reply from Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, Bavarian Ministry of Justice” (potentially showing high-level support for SUEPO).
“SUEPO Munich received a reply from the Bavarian Ministry of Justice,” wrote the site’s administrator, “to the letter sent on 7 December 2016, in relation to the demonstration which took place on 10 December 2015. In his reply, he referred to the question posed by German MP Jutta Krellmann dated 8 October, which you could find here.”
Only the question is in English, so again we may need a good translation or two from German into English. █
“Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy.”
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Summary: Political actions against the EPO’s management are rapidly multiplying after the busting of labour unions
THE EPO coverage will accelerate tomorrow, but before we get to the new stories we want to mention Mr. Cordery again. As noted here earlier today, Philip Cordery, who represents overseas workers, is very angry at the fellow Frenchman, Mr. Battistelli, who surrounded himself by other (often similarly underqualified) Frenchmen.
Someone sent us a translation of Cordery’s rant just a couple of hours after our request for a translation. Here it is:
Black day in the European Patent Office (EPO / European Patent Office).
Antisocial management of the EPO, led by its President M. Battistelli, has reached new heights today. Unprecedented sanctions were imposed against three staff representatives: the president of Suepo Munich is dismissed with on the top a 20% reduction of her pension rights; the former president of that organisation (TRANSLATOR NOTE: here the SUEPO union) is also dismissed; the treasurer downgraded by 8 levels, which equates to lose 15 years of work. The reason? Having deigned to publicly represent their colleagues to attempt to defend their rights.
These authoritarian and arbitrary decisions are purely scandalous. The most basic rights of employees, in force in all European countries, are trampled in the EPO without any national or international court being able to act. Immunity does not mean impunity.
For too many years, the social situation of this organisation is worsening. Enough is enough. All Member States must act quickly, like France, which has repeatedly called for a social audit. I again appealed the government in this sense. There is an urgent need to put an end to the arbitrariness and to bring back to live this organisation which is so important for the whole of Europe.
I want to assure all staff, and in particular the representatives, of my full support. We remain vigilant and act with all our means until democracy and justice regain their rights within the Office.
At 7:30 today the same person posted the translation in IP Kat as well. It’s important for all the people who work at the EPO. They all ought to read it. Some politicians are sincerely and passionately fighting for EPO staff right now. Based on information which we can not yet disclose (we will in the near future), there are similar actions against the EPO’s management going on inside the EPO’s complaints mechanism, in British politics, and in European politics. The wheels are moving and to speed things up we urge all readers to contact their delegates without hesitation. It makes a big difference when these delegates receive feedback from people; many of these delegates don’t follow the news. Some things are better left behind the scenes for the time being. Change may be imminent and we’re not pessimistic. █
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Summary: An example of Internet trolls and a reminder that they oughtn’t be fed because it proves to be a waste of effort and a distraction from the important topics (like Topić)
AS an international institution the EPO should, in principle, obey international law. Instead what they have there is nepotism and Putinism (autocracy). Don’t be mistaken. I am personally strongly in favour of the European Union (EU), but the EPO is not part of it. The EPO predates the EU by several decades and unlike the EU or EP (or even the EC), the EPO does not even pretend to be democratic. It doesn’t even obey the EPC. One day we’ll research, further explore, and finally report on the roots of the EPO (one source tells us that the EPO took over a commercial company).
“What happened on Friday was elimination of the heads of unions, who had already been suspended for a couple of months (severely limiting their ability to operate).”Worth noting, in light of what happens in IP Kat right about now, is that people need to focus on the abuses of the management and the innocence of staff representatives whom this management has just fired. Do not feed the trolls (see Wikipedia’s definition). Yes, trolls do exist and they are floating the management’s talking points, whether deliberately or not (and whether financially compensated for it or not). There was no “investigation” of staff representatives; it’s a euphemism for union busting. What happened on Friday was elimination of the heads of unions, who had already been suspended for a couple of months (severely limiting their ability to operate). ILO is far too slow to help the fired representatives and the ‘appeal’ system is internal at the EPO (i.e. sham trial guaranteed). Contact national delegates for possible reprieve (some of them do listen and even respond).
For better or for worse (considering Google’s spotty record on anonymity at Blogspot), IP Kat became a de facto go-to forum for anonymous people to express their grievances regarding the EPO. Yesterday we saw some troll trying to discredit Techrights. “Just sayin`” (that’s the pseudonym) wrote:
Boohoo, cry me a river! Two employees have been fired.
Do you know how many get fired daily in the real world?
And judging from the letters published by Techrights, this was even justified after them harrassing colleagues.
Get real people, also staffreps can make mistakes. And they also get to pay the price.
No, I`m not a management troll, just being realistic.
Yes, “not a management troll”. Well, apparently a troll nonetheless. The above is designed to provoke (“Boohoo, cry me a river!”) and it’s a pattern that’s familiar to us. It’s a troll who distracts and one who derails the discussion, leading to a debate about an entirely different topic, discouraging fruitful participation and turning off readers/audience. We wrote many articles about such trolls over the years (usually in relation to Free/Open Source software).
The letters and rebuttals which we published here show the opposite of what’s claimed by the troll. Notice the troll’s statement, “I`m not a management troll, just being realistic.” If you’re not a troll, you don’t need to state that. As MinceR put it in the
#techrights IRC channel last night, “he merely stated that he’s a troll, but not from the management” (recall the FTI Consulting contract).
This isn’t the first time we see such provocation inside IP Kat. We previously covered it in “Suppression of Voices Critical of the European Patent Office (EPO)“. Readers always swallow the bait and a lot of efforts is spent cleaning up the trolls’ vomit. Some people correctly identified this as a troll, but nonetheless, the troll received some rather detailed replies, such as this:
I believe only one was fired for alleged harassment. The other was fired for what were deemed by the EPO to be unfair Ts&Cs in the union legal support contract.
Just being “realistic”? Hmm… I had another word in mind…
You should probably try to get your facts straight before you shoot off your mouth.
Sure, people get fired.
Yet, the first reason is…. lacking secrecy on your own case? Sure, that publication reflects badly on the EPO, so it does contravene the ServRegs, but does it reflect badly because of the stuff being published, or because of the content? And who is responsible for the conten?
The alleged harrasment? The Disciplinary Committee pointed out that only one of seven witnesses that were “interviewed” (with extremely suggestive questions) was able to confirm the case….
I have sincere issues with how the case was handled.
Also, implementing a harsher punishment than proposed by the DC?
Furthermore: further reforms were put on the tables of the consultative organs, where the staff representation was lacking representatives. I’ll bet that BB will use the votes, which were now 10 pro and 9 no as a proof that the reforms are wanted by the majority of staff, as those will be the first ones where he did not have to break the tie as chairperson in the obligatory consulting…
Anyway, think what you want, you’re able to make your own opinion, and it is your right to point out that most employees are worse off. But those do have access to court decissions in a reasonable time, we do not. Thus we have no means against an unjustified firing.
Some people put a lot of effort into it, responding to the troll with facts:
As extremely sad as this is, the firing of the two and the severe sanctions against the third (she has no hope of ever reaching her former salary again) elected staff representatives and elected union leaders are, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more who have been investigated, harassed, intimidated, or quietly forced into retirement. And just imagine the shivers this imparts to the remaining staff: most of them patent judges in search, examination, opposition, and appeals.
On the broader scale, the system of checks and balances, if it ever deserved the name as it has been designed in the EPC (dear authors, I’m sorry having to write this) and the Staff Regulations, has been made an utter mockery by Mr. Battistelli. Administrative Council is being mishandled; anybody who dares to disagree sees her cooperation budget annihilated, not to mention the time allotted to her country in the various committees drop precipitously.
Mr. Battistelli’s “social democracy” has made it much more difficult for staff to voice opinion or raise grievances. A million miles from striving to design a better system, Mr. Battistelli apparently takes particular pleasure at creating conflicts of interest and opportunities for harassment and intimidation. The former General Advisory Committee, a forum for management and staff representatives to discuss proposed changes at the Office that are of importance to staff, has been re-designed into the General Consultative Committee and to the point of irrelevance that Mr. Battistelli has no inhibitions about publishing the list of its members for 2016 with more members from the (top) management than those appointed by the staff representation, then reducing the staff side further by firing the next day.
In addition, the very staff representatives that have now been fired had already been reporting directly to PD HR. Even the rules for election of staff representation – a very important function, separate from the unions, in the social contract in Germany and, formerly, the EPO – have been designed by the administration. These are just a few examples; there are lots more in all important areas of the Office. The internal appeals process has been made much more intimidating to the appellant than it ever was. The system of occupational health and data protection have been all but killed. Small wonder that this has lead to several colleagues taking their lives recently.
Having fired the most courageous staff reps, Mr. Battistelli has reached new heights. No individual in the Office and hardly anybody in the Administrative Council dares to contradict him. It appears that it is only a matter of time before all staff will be afraid to demonstrate.
What’s on the plus side? Production has gone up, possibly at the expense of quality, and most staff still have a job that many of them can hardly afford to leave, having abandoned their careers as engineers and scientists years ago. It’s less secure than before, much less pleasurable, in some aspects becoming shameful.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can afford to voice my opinion openly and that’s why I post my thoughts here anonymously.
This one comment correctly states that “one reason for dismissal was to reveal that they were being investigated, I guess that is also normal? And (allegedly)assisting someone who hasn’t been disciplined for allegedly doing something was a second reason.” Here is the comment in full:
Thanks for that. Since the accused are not allowed to reveal that they are accused, let alone what they are accused of, your insight is useful. Since one reason for dismissal was to reveal that they were being investigated, I guess that is also normal? And (allegedly)assisting someone who hasn’t been disciplined for allegedly doing something was a second reason. Again normal? And the complainant being the one who led the investigation and led the prosecution? Normal again?
I appreciate that sometimes bad things happen, but is that reason to accept it? And when that comes from a body operating in the legal world and with seeming total legal immunity, is that not questionable? I see your point, but I have to politely disagree.
Here is a Dutch irony being pointed out:
The decision came back to my mind after the dismissal of the two SUEPO officials.
Well, I guess we all should thank the Dutch government for having decided not to enforce the decision of an independent court for the latest actions of Mr. Battistelli – after all, the message from the Dutch minister was quite clear: you’re free to do whatever you want, Mr. Battistelli!.
One year later, the consequences are here for all to see – and what an irony that the most prominent victim of Battistelli is a Dutch citizen! (Elisabeth Hardon)
Ah, and many thanks to the Administrative Council of the EPO too, who did not think that having the Office being accused of infringing human rights was so important after all. What happened in the last days, honourable members of the AC of the EPO, are the results of your greed, lack of morals and cowardice.
Here is a response to what we’re interpreting as an opportunistic attack on Techrights, as if we have proven the management right and just:
” And judging from the letters published by Techrights, this was even justified after them harrassing colleagues….
No, I`m not a management troll, just being realistic.”
Thank you for constructively indicating that you are NOT a troll. The reader might have doubts after reading your submission . I suggest you re-reading the corresponding documents on Techright, of course only because you are not a troll!
Contrary to the allegations, in the real world not many at all union leaders get fired! It is rather exceptional!
So I fail to see the alledged realism of the annonymous comment of 12.52.00 who assuers of not being a managent troll and of being realistic.
Best thing to do in such cases is not feed the trolls, even when they explicitly say they’re not trolls (didn’t Nixon say he was not a crook?). “Just sayin`” has not even replied since (classic drive-by trolling), which leads one to seeing just what a single short comment (that’s deliberately disruptive and insulting) is able to achieve. If this whole article in its own right feeds the troll, then hopefully the take-home message is that future trolls needn’t and shouldn’t be fed. Next up we have some important new revelations about Topić. This is the kind of topic that people should discuss anonymously in all sorts of forums. There is potential there for imprisonment. █
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Philip Cordery (below) joins the battle after Friday's complaint from Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’…
Summary: Benoît Battistelli comes under very intense pressure from French representatives of French residents overseas; questions arise, citing ILOAT Judgment 1061, regarding the very existence of Battistelli inside the EPO (let alone eligibility to hold his position)
THE PILE of EPO ‘dirty laundry’ is growing again, as readers who are upset at the EPO send us even more (extending an already long backlog). One thing we wish to get out of the way — so to speak — before proceeding to new Topić revelations, is the attack on staff representatives. Things are far from over and we still strongly encourage every European reader to contact national delegates.
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty,” Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying this morning. Cordery, a French politician who previously complained about the Battistelli regime (we wrote about Cordery on more than one occasion), is lashing out again (he’s in the fourth constituency for French residents overseas):
Philip Cordery French MP representing French expats living in the Benelux wrote on Facebook
16 January at 01:31 · Brussels, Belgium ·
Journée noire à l’Office européen des brevets (OEB / European Patent Office)
La gestion antisociale de l’OEB, conduite par son président M. Batistelli, a atteint aujourd’hui des nouveaux sommets. Des sanctions sans précédent ont été prononcées à l’encontre de trois représentants du personnel : la présidente de Suepo Munich licenciée avec en prime une réduction de 20% de ses droits à la retraite ; l’ancien président de cette même organisation, licencié ; son trésorier rétrogradé de 8 échelons, ce qui équivaut à perdre 15 ans de travail. Motif ? Avoir daigné publiquement représenter leurs collègues pour tenter de défendre leurs droits.
Ces décisions autoritaires et arbitraires sont purement scandaleuses. Les droits les plus élémentaires des salariés, en vigueur dans tous les pays d’Europe, sont bafoués au sein de l’OEB sans qu’aucune juridiction nationale ou internationale ne puisse agir. Immunité n’est pas synonyme d’impunité.
Depuis de trop nombreuses années, la situation sociale de cette organisation se dégrade. Trop c’est trop. L’ensemble des États membres doit agir et vite, à l’instar de la France qui a à plusieurs reprises demandé un audit social. J’ai de nouveau saisi le gouvernement en ce sens. Il faut d’urgence mettre un terme à l’arbitraire et refaire vivre cette organisation si importante pour l’Europe toute entière.
Je veux assurer tout le personnel, et notamment ses représentants, de mon soutien plein et entier. Nous restons vigilants et agirons avec tous nos moyens jusqu’à ce que la démocratie et la justice retrouvent leurs droits au sein de l’Office.
An English translation of the above would be appreciated. We are still waiting for anyone who can supply a translation of the Heise article and a copy of the internal communication from Battistelli about Friday’s firings.
How much more can Battistelli withstand? He reportedly threatened to resign already. Battistelli’s “political connections in France,” says this new comment, is a “breach of the standards required of an international civil servant”.
We wrote about Battistelli's political connections last night and here is the comment which reflects further:
A number of commentators here have referred to BB’s political connections in France and the fact that he holds elected office as a municipal councillor in France (St. Germain-en-Laye) on a party ticket for the UMP (in the meantime rebranded as “Les Republicains”).
However, nobody seems to have noticed that such involvement in national party politics is in breach of the standards required of an international civil servant according to ILOAT Judgment 1061:
“… an international civil servant, though entitled to hold his own political views, must stand aloof from demonstrations of adherence to a political party. Integrity, loyalty to the international civil service, independence and impartiality are the standards required of an international civil servant and they require him to keep clear of involvement in national party politics.”
Apparently these standards don’t apply to BB …
Yes, Battistelli seems to have different rules applying to him (if any exist and are actually honoured). Here come the FIFA comparisons again. ‘Maxdrei’ (pseudonym of what looks like a patent professional based on previous comments) is quoted as saying: “It was because Mr Blatter managed the flow of dividends to individual members in such a way that most of them thought Blatter a hero. I wager that most EPC Member States see BB as a hero, for much the same reason.”
The reply to that went as follows: “Money makes the world go round and, yet, Mr. Battistelli’s approach is more comprehensive than that. For example, when a member of a country’s Administrative Council delegation has dared to say something that wasn’t in the script, time allotted to that country’s delegation in meetings of the various committees can get drastically cut. Most EPC member states probably don’t see BB as a hero. Unfortunately, they simply don’t think they have an alternative to agreeing to what he wants from them.”
Earlier on another person (maybe someone who is British by the looks of it) wrote: “Mr Alty and Mr Denehey [the British delegates], the time has come to decide whether you are a Churchill or a surrender monkey from Vichy France. Grow a pair and make a stand.”
Mr Alty and Mr Denehey are not even responding. They’re stonewalling. Remember how the British government intervened last year when EPO staff planned a protest against these people.
As one person put it: “The host countries have a special responsibility as they get the benefits of hosting. Do you know how good is for the Munich economy to host the EPO? The minimum you an expect from the host country is vigilance. The Germans are keeping their eyes shut. They do not reserve respect any longer.”
Alluding to Sarkozy-ism and Battistelli, one person wrote: The first request from the french embassy was never answered by the EPO higher level. The second request received a stinging refusal “à la Battistelli”. Rumours has it that Hollande appreciated the act to its fair value.”
Regarding an earlier suggestion of a boycott (of German products) one person said/responded: “A boycott of German goods would be somewhat discriminatory when all states appear complicit.”
In a sense, all nations are complicit in the silence sense, but only Germany can really send Federal investigators (e.g. over privacy abuses). One person brought up an alternative which relates to the Unitary Patent (UP). The person wrote: “It is a good point, but I suggest another measure that will hit where it hurts: Stop using the EPO patent system. And as a corollary the UP system if any.”
One sure thing is, the UPC (or UP for short) would further empower the EPO and mostly serve German lawyers (this is a widely-known fact). Why reward them after this kind of atrocious regime of Battistelli? It makes no sense. The management of the EPO is clearly broken beyond repair (too much cross-pollination). It needs to be rebooted. Questions about the legitimacy of this whole management (not just Battistelli) ought to be surfaced and circulated a lot more for real actions to be taken. █
“The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.”
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