How the European Patent Office (EPO) is Crushing Staff Unions and Why EPO Staff Has a Moral Duty to Protest
Summary: The attacks on staff unions at the EPO are explained with broader context, highlighting the severe abuses which come from above, so to speak, from people who shamelessly disregard the rule of law
TECHRIGHTS has written a great deal about the EPO‘s management, more so as a result of its unprecedented crushing of well-educated (and at times opinionated) staff. Critical or sceptical thinking should be a job requirement at the EPO, but apparently not under Battistelli. People are reduced to obedient peons who work like machines and never fall ill. Standards or procedures typically applicable to examination are out the door, depending on the size of the applicant (or “client”/”customer”). This is just wrong.
Instead of going after truly dangerous people such as Željko Topić (see our latest report about him), the EPO’s managers, who hired this incredible liability, is stubbornly fighting more aggressively, convinced that it should only be going after — ever more relentlessly and at growing doses — those whom management believes can lead to a revolt and perhaps a mass exodus, mass resignation/dismissal at the management level, or European raids at the Office (some members there, Topić included, already face many criminal charges). The last thing Battistelli et al want right now is Europol or Interpol showing up at the gate (Munich).
“I still have some hope for tomorrow,” wrote one particular reader to us regarding the Board 28 meeting (tomorrow in Germany). SUEPO said that “The Board 28 is the ultra-secretive think-tank of the Administrative Council.”
“You probably know about the rumours,” added this reader, “that they are negotiating his [Battistelli's] departure; but the rumour is not confirmed.”
While we generally have a good understanding of what happened, how, when and so on (too early to take all of this public), we cannot ever sympathise with what Battistelli and his goons have been doing. It’s them who should be facing a trial/s (or face the music as the saying goes), not mere messengers (the voice of the staff) like SUEPO. Topić is himself already embroiled in legal battles, but Battistelli and his clique try pretty hard to hide this from the staff. They even actively mislead the staff regarding the status of Topić’s court battles.
Ahead of tomorrow’s protest in Munich let’s just remind readers or explain once again (with additional details) what has been going on at the EPO.
“Read about cleansing of staff representatives and union leaders at EPO,” urged one person in a message to us. We have a lot of this documented with an index of articles in the Wiki. They not only went after staff representatives and union leaders. They even went after a judge. His alleged ‘crime’ is that he anonymously (for his own safety) spoke about the behaviour of Željko Topić. People who cannot understand the importance of such an (alleged) act surely don’t know what Željko Topić has done. There’s a reason why people in Croatia hate Topić so much. They’re up in arm and they cannot quite grasp the EPO’s decision to recruit him. Maybe a language barrier prevented the H.R. folks from doing their homework.
“There’s a reason why people in Croatia hate Topić so much. They’re up in arm and they cannot quite grasp the EPO’s decision to recruit him.”“The EPO conducts secretive investigations against them [staff representatives],” told us a person, “in which they cannot bring a lawyer, do not know the charges in advance, lack the right to remain silent, and cannot even disclose that they are being investigated. During the investigations, they are bullied into confessions about themselves and others. If they are not cooperative, charges are trumped up against them, followed by mock trials in a disciplinary committee. EPO confiscates their personal belongings like cell phones and PCs, so that evidence can later be “found” on them, in the absence of the accused.”
Go ahead and hypothesise/theorise about what may be on a USB drive (or stick) of someone who wants to access the Web anonymously. Such drives swap/change hands (different people sharing the same media). They may, among other things, include anonymity software, and some people who desperately require such software may wish to disseminate material which the State deems hateful. All we are trying to say is, when you seize vast troves of data (like complete PCs) you can spend months constructing a false story about a person (or scapegoat). The same goes for mass surveillance in general and as Edward Snowden once put it (to paraphrase from memory), given enough data one can frame it (by omission or ambiguity) to support some imaginary story about one’s life. It wouldn’t be hard, in retrospect (with access to extensive piles of personal data), to smear a person or even justify a lethal drone strike against a person. This is one of the many known dangers (to a democratic society) that mass surveillance poses. Just look what the Stasi did in Germany.
“If they are not cooperative, charges are trumped up against them, followed by mock trials in a disciplinary committee. EPO confiscates their personal belongings like cell phones and PCs, so that evidence can later be “found” on them, in the absence of the accused.”
–Anonymous“No wonder they get ill,” wrote a person to us, alluding to staff representatives. “Find below some staff representatives who got punished recently. This list is not complete.”
- Annete K exposed human right breaches of EPO. She is a lawyer. As soon as she left the staff committee, and thus lost protection, she was expelled into early retirement against her will.
- Also Aurélien P and Mikael L got suspended and downgraded as their mandate with the appeals committee ended. This happened after years of loyal service in the appeals committee.
- Els H is SUEPO’s chairperson. She was first downgraded and then fired based on false charges. Against the advice of the disciplinary committee, her pension was cut by 20%, a pension for which she paid for 30 years.
- Ion B is SUEPO’s former chair. In the same week, also he was fired based on false charges. The disciplinary committee explicitly advised against his dismissal. Ion B has 5 children. His colleagues now support him financially.
- Still in the same week, Malika W got downgraded. Coincidence, huh?
- Laurent P occupies leading positions for staff representation and SUEPO. After being pressurized and summoned by the investigative unit on 13 November 2015, he is on sick leave as certified by his doctor. The EPO refuses to pay his salary, and pressurizes him even while ill. His colleagues now support him financially.
“Other staff representatives are targeted,” we’ve learned, but we already knew that. We named some of them earlier today and we are aware of even more. It’s clearly a witch-hunt. The pattern cannot be mistaken for a “coincidence”. Willy Minnoye was lying on national television.
“This intimidation must stop,” the person told us, “and Battistelli should be told to leave.”
“Just for the record,” I responded, “I am aware of more people who have been targeted. This situation must be addressed as a matter of urgency to prevent more suicides and other irreparable damages.”
Speaking to another person we learned that Battistelli “is creating transparency” not by means of intentional transparency but rather by upsetting everyone and thus creating whistleblowers. By alienating everyone he himself made a lot more enemies. Even Directors now attend protests. The damage is irreversible for Battistelli. His days are probably numbered now. “It seems that you are becoming an expert even for EPO-internal matters,” this one person told us, but that’s probably because the EPO never figured out who we speak to (based on internal documents we saw). They’re clueless. In a sense, Minnoye’s nightmare is becoming a reality. Months ago Minnoye complained that documents had been leaking to blogs (he must have meant Techrights) and now it’s him who’s receiving a lot of unwanted attention. This is a sort of nonviolent blowback that they experience after viciously attacking their staff. They also targeted yours truly, as if suddenly the courts suit them.
By going to the protest tomorrow (or joining the imminent strike) staff will hit Battistelli, Topić, and Minnoye where it hurts. It helps demonstrate how terrible they are as managers, in spite of the high salaries. No doubt EPO management will continue to exercise what’s wrongly perceived as omnipotence, but without standing up to these machinations European society is assured to descend onto further oppressions. A German guy called Adolf once famously said, “demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination.” The suicides epidemic isn’t assassination per se, but it serves a similar role, alongside union decapitation. █
“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today…”
–Mahatma Gandhi quotes (Indian Philosopher, internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest, 1869-1948)