03.05.16

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JUVE Translation: EPO Quick to Announce Success Story of Dialogue with Small Unions

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: English translation of an article from Christina Schulze

Yesterday we asked for a translation of this article from Christina Schulze (more on that, including a response from FFPE EPO, will be published tomorrow). It took less than a day for a volunteer to provide the following translation.


EPO Quick to Announce Success Story of Dialogue with Small Unions

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the union Fédération de la Fonction Publique Européenne in the European Patent Office (FFPE-EPO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. This is the first time that the EPO has formally acknowledged the role of unions as social partners; up to now, unions have had no legal status in the European Agency.

 Benoît Battistelli

Benoît Battistelli

The EPO was surprisingly quick to announce the signing. JUVE investigations reveal that EPO President Benoît Battistelli had recently come under increasing pressure from the Administrative Council to seek a dialogue with staff representatives, and to recognise the unions.

However, the EPO has only signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the small union FFPE-EPO, which JUVE understands to have fewer than one hundred members, mainly at the EPO’s site in The Hague. Moreover, it is reported that there has been no progress between EPO management and the large union SUEPO, which represents about half of the staff, and which has been calling more and more stridently for protest demonstrations. The EPO began disciplinary proceedings against the three leaders of the Munich SUEPO’s Munich branch, then demoted them and sacked the Chairwoman.

So the new success story must be viewed against the background of the increasing pressure from the Administrative Council, which had previously acted as the President’s power base. The conflict between a section of the member states and Benoît Battistelli first became public in mid-February, when a letter to the representatives of the 38 member states from the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, became public. Among other things, the letter requests that an external investigation be permitted into the disciplinary measures and proceedings against the three union leaders. The Administrative Council could decide to present their demands to the President at their next meeting in mid-March.

The Office has been rocked by the ongoing conflict between Battistelli and the unions for about the last year and a half, centred on the President’s management style, his project for increased efficiency, and the recognition of the unions. In parallel, a public debate been sparked over the inadequate independence of the Office’s internal courts, the Boards of Appeal. (Christina Schulze)

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