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03.05.16

Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not this kind of fallout, but a silent killer nonetheless

Fallout shelter of FFPE EPO
Management-approved shelter for staff and also means for exerting control on staff-led structures (controlled opposition, steered to some degree by those whom it’s supposed to influence)

Summary: The impact of the Memorandum of (Mis)Understanding (MoU) just signed with the Battistelli-led EPO, which — although not necessarily malicious by intent — poses a threat to a lot of members of staff and gives greater powers to Battistelli’s friends at the top

IN an effort to report on this subject accurately, while intentionally representing alternative angles from alternative sources like comments too (and without dogmatic omission of views/perspectives), we decided to study a lot of documents (this isn’t a hobby but a passion of mine) and discuss the matter with the Chairman of FFPE EPO, who has gotten in touch with us after we repeatedly wrote/remarked on this subject (we regret nothing that was said and have not been proven wrong).

“People feel strongly about this because their hard-earned career depends on it.”Research on the matter enables us to better differentiate/discern fiction/spin from fact. This means that in this article we don’t accept arguments at face value and will humbly attempt to challenge claims where these seem dubious and exceedingly unlikely, based on documents that we studied for a long time and even researched further while putting together the article.

A lot of the views below are based on E-mail communication and IP Kat, where a lot of people comment anonymously on this subject (anonymity for one’s protection, not to cause offense). As one comment put it on Saturday:

Anonymity today at the EPO is not a game. It’s a question of survival.

Some elected staff rep. acting as such have been fired for alleged harassment where the alleged victim (another staff rep.) was even not complaining.

Everybody looks happy on the official picture. The neckties and smiles are perfect. But don’t forget that these people are dark and without mercy. Their behavior and their methods have ruined the life of several colleagues and our reputation.

Now the ashtrays are full, the bottles empty, the band is tired and the party is over. Having signed a MOU with such people looks already like a very bad dream and may be not such a brilliant move.

People feel strongly about this because their hard-earned career depends on it. Nearly 10,000 people — some of the brightest minds in Europe along with their families — are impacted. Recall how even a spouse of a staff representative got dragged into this (worse than the time Battistelli threatened SUEPO's lawyers, threatened delegates, and even French politicians). Based on German media, suicides too are sometimes caused by the Investigative Unit of Battistelli [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], so this can be a matter of life and death. I heard a lot of stories from a lot of people and I know how suicide can sometimes be seen as the easier way out. When the safeguards and protections traditionally offered in modern society are removed, we’re left exposed to beastly medieval thugs without compassion and this is why a lot of EPO workers are complaining (not only on behalf of colleagues but also for themselves).

“I heard a lot of stories from a lot of people and I know how suicide can sometimes be seen as the easier way out.”“I have read what people (probably colleagues) have wrote [sic] about FFPE EPO on your site or on IP-KAT,” told me the Chairman of FFPE EPO. The last time we wrote about it was just before he decided to go public and respond to harsh comments. What took so long? For a number of days (definitely more than a day) the implicit policy was to say nothing, but “if you look there again you will see that I have reacted to most if not all of these allegations,” told me the Chairman. Here is the comment which triggered the first response:

FFPE was clearly free to sign the agreement. It is up to its members to decide whether it acted in their interest or not. However, they clearly cannot claim to act in the interest of the EPO staff in general given their number.

Who has some (more) questions to answer is the President of the EPO. The Admin Council may ask him to explain why he signed an agreement with an organisation that represents only a negligible minority of the staff and does not seem to fulfill the conditions of the agreement itself (only the staff of the Hague are entitled to adhere while the others may only be allowed on the basis of a discretionary decision of the committee under art.20 of the statute, no regular elections seem to be hold from their info page).

Maybe to clarify this issue some informed reader should finally tell us:
1)how many members the FFPE has;
2) how many of them are not dutch nationals;
3) how many of them are not based in Den Haag;
4) when were the last elections hold.

Then, responding to the above, Chairman of FFPE EPO wrote:

Membership is, as always under Dutch association law, to the discretion of the committee of the association. Any employee of the EPO can become a member. Regular elections are held every 2 to 3 years in conformity with the statutes. FFPE EPO does not register nationality of its members and neither should it. However candidates to the committee can of their own volition tell the members their nationality. Up to now FFPE had committee members of Dutch, Romanian and English nationality in the 4 successive committees that have been elected over the past 8 years. FFPE EPO already has members in various sites of the EPO. Last elections were held in 2013 and new elections are planned in April 2016. As the NRC handelsblad stated in its press article of 2 March 2016 FFPE EPO had 75 members on that day. The reason for the exceptional article 20 is that FFPE EPO is of the opinion that it would be better if members of FFPE EPO in other sites than The Hague set up their own FFPE section and elect their own committee. This is for practical reasons because it is not very easy to have general assemblies reaching a quorum when the members are spread over 4 different locations. Nobody is going to take a plane from Munich to The Hague to attend the annual general assembly of the members or vice versa.

I hope this answers most of the questions posed here.

Samuel van der Bijl
Chairman FFPE EPO

PS: If you have so many questions about FFPE why don’t you ask them at work? I am not hiding from anyone and nearly always there to answer any questions. Alternatively email can be used. A meeting especially for Munich staff is currently being planned at the request of our colleagues there.

He later added:

“Btw, someone above writes that “FFPE EPO does enjoy the full support to sign this MoU from one of the largest union federations FFPE represented at the EU commission, the EU council, the council of Europe, Eurocontrol etc.. and the Federal bureau of this Union Federation assisted in drafting and negotiation of the present MoU”.

Is this true?”

Yes this is true. The communiqué de presse on the ffpe-epo website referred to above was approved by the federal bureau of FFPE on the morning before the signature. At the signature event in the afternoon, the federal president of FFPE, mr. John Parsons was present as well as the presidents of the FFPE sections at the European Commission (Pierre Philippe Bacri) and the EU council (Simon Coates).

Samuel van der Bijl
Chairman FFPE EPO

This was his final message:

“Dear Mr van der Bijl can you explain how some documents of FFPE-EPO landed into the defense file of the EPO vs. SUEPO in front of the Court of Appeal of The Hague ?

Is firing on SUEPO your line of work ?”

We do not know of any of our public documents being used for any case whatsoever. Please prove your argument please. Then complaining about public documents being used publicly is a bit strange to say the least. A better defense would be to prove that there is anything inaccurate in these documents. After all, the truth shall set you free, doesn’t it? Since the FFPE EPO committee has never in 8 years received any complaints about the inaccuracy of any one of our communications and therefore also never issued any correction, which we of course would have if this was the case, we have to assume that they were correct unless proven otherwise.

Finally I could return your argument of course. Is firing on FFPE EPO your line of work? FFPE EPO has been fired upon continuously and relentlessly for many years now, mostly under the cover of anonymity of course and often publicly outside of the EPO because that is how this seems to work. Are we now also forbidden to defend ourselves against negative stereotypes and outright lies?

Samuel van der Bijl
Chairman

PS: This is my last reply on this thread, I think everything that needed to be said has been said and people interested in the truth should address the FFPE EPO committee internally and not under the cover of anonymity.

This began to attract some followup questions addressed to him personally, e.g.:

“This is my last reply on this thread”

Well, that’s it, your fifteen minutes of fame are over.

Dear Mr. Van der Bijl.

Even your Article 20 allows you to accept members (at your discretion) from Munich. FFPE made it clear that the membership is not open to all duty stations. Because FFPE is Brussels based, Article 20 does not allow you to accept members from the EPO Brussels duty station.

Some believe that this is a reason to suspend the memorandum:

The accusation that the staff from all other EPO locations (Berlin, Brussels, Munich, Vienna) cannot join the FFPE is very serious.

Because the memorandum has been made public here, the chairman of FFPE-EPO should in good faith make his Articles of Association public.

If any such limitation is indeed mentioned therein, the President has to act. He is deemed to have taken notice of such discrimination, because these Articles of Association are provided to him in compliance with the Art. 5 of the MOU. The criteria of Art. 7 of the MOU (representation of members of staff without any discrimination based on any ground) is unambiguous and by virtue of Art. 9 of the MOU, the Administration has to suspend the memorandum.

Another followup question arose:

Dear Mr van der Bijl can you explain how some documents of FFPE-EPO landed into the defense file of the EPO vs. SUEPO in front of the Court of Appeal of The Hague ?

Is firing on SUEPO your line of work ?

We honestly think that’s an unfair rhetorical question, but an unintended consequence of signing that deal is that SUEPO will suffer, even if/when the whole circle of Battistelli is dethroned.

“When SUEPO got itself in a strong conflict with management in the year 2014 they lost these facilities and so did we.”
      –FFPE EPO Chairman
Samuel told me: “Clearly you have been very badly informed by people who don’t know what really happened at the EPO and spend their time spreading rumours which are wrong either in part or completely.”

Telling a person that he or she is misinformed (or “badly informed”) is fine, as long as there is supportive evidence that convinces the person of his/her error. So we took into consideration what Samuel wrote, and it goes like this:

FFPE EPO is not a yellow Union as the newest articles on your site seem to claim. Our membership is composed for a large part of lower grade colleagues and the remainder of examiners who are critical of the way SUEPO has handled negotiations on employment conditions over the past 15-20 years. Because most of the lower grade administrative staff in our section in The Hague is of Dutch nationality we are often targeted as being just a Dutch union. It sometimes almost seems that we should apologize for having many lower grade Dutch colleagues. I think this is profoundly unfair! These colleagues who earn considerably less than the expat examiner staff do a lot of good work which is very essential to the organisation. In fact, not a single one of our members or even former members has ever been promoted to higher management positions and none of our current members occupies a higher management position. This is of course not the case for our competing Union SUEPO. We have never been granted any facilities or rooms that SUEPO did not receive before. In fact we received more or less the same or considerably less resources. When SUEPO got itself in a strong conflict with management in the year 2014 they lost these facilities and so did we. Of course losing these facilities was much harder to handle for a small Union as FFPE-EPO than for a large one like SUEPO which also has a very considerable amount of money.

This seems fine on the surface, but how do claims that SUEPO are on a higher pay grade (salary) disprove the possibility that FFPE EPO might be a yellow union? We didn’t call it that but said that it looks like it, might be it, or might gradually turn into one. The nationality part aside (we never touched this aspect at all because it is less relevant to legitimacy but more to suitability and MoU eligibility), the main claim above says that FFPE EPO had no financial advantage over SUEPO. That’s a bit of a straw man argument because never was it suggested that FFPE EPO was somehow supposed to be artificially elevated in the pay grade sense. All we claimed was, FFPE EPO is embraced in the negotiation sense/phase (no discriminatory treatment or material aid) and given a sort of limelight, not necessarily preferential treatment. The photo op is a culmination of that. Regarding the pay grade point, one comment recently said: “I really don´t know what the confusion is about. There already has been a union leader who turned to management and became an infamous PD at the EPO. Much better paid on that side of the table. Mr. Van der Bijl and the other “leaders” of FFPE-EPO will have to share 30 pieces of silver and that´s about it.”

Samuel continued:

FFPE EPO is affiliated to a greater federation of unions called FFPE which exists since 1962 and has been created as an alternative to the unions that existed already and were without any exception all of a very strong socialist signature. As you will be able to verify by yourself FFPE was one of the organisations that created the CESI organisation which is an organisation of independent and politically non affiliated unions of mainly conservative and/or liberal(in the European sense) signature. For a political reason that I do not know FFPE is now no longer a member of CESI though which means we are politically speaking fully independent now.

Techrights spent some time studying documents about FFPE and its relationship with European authorities, but these are an entirely different monster because the European Union/Parliament/Commission isn’t an international body immune from the law like Eponia (which virtually exists in a vacuum). FFPE has existed for many decades, but not so when it comes to FFPE EPO. In fact, both FFPE and SUEPO have existed for many decades (they are almost the same age); FFPE EPO is somewhat of a new phenomenon. It’s worth noting.

FFPE-EPO has in its short existence participated in no less than 3 strike actions in the EPO, the last one being against the implementation of the new strike regulations. One of the concessions we fought very hard for is a full renegotiation of these strike regulations. We have also been in 2012 very critical of the investigation guidelines which were for the most part based on a proposal of our competing union SUEPO. They will be renegotiated as well.

Fast-tracking a little, here are some additional comments we have on this:

I see some here are mixing the issues of investigations and reognition of unions. I would be curious to know which of the two unions was negotiating the current “investigation guidelines” with the EPO in 2012? And which of the two unions at the time was publishing internally an intensive criticism of these same guidelines? Archives can be very interesting sometimes especially since it was all printed on paper at the time.

It seems like it’s possible that someone did a lot of work and someone was piggybacking the other (i.e. one doing a lot of the work, another taking credit). Later we’ll see the hypothetical SUEPO quote: “There are two kinds of trade unions, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”

“In one of our very first communications we have asked for a recognised status for all unions in the EPO.”
      –FFPE EPO Chairman
Now, FFPE EPO could claim that SUEPO takes much of the burden for setting up initiatives using its superior resources, but still, a leader is a leader. Looking at the Web site of FFPE EPO, we’re seeing little more than a fossil stuck nearly a decade in the past (the content, not just the site’s design).

Union recognition in its own right may be fine, but to quote Samuel:

In one of our very first communications we have asked for a recognised status for all unions in the EPO. Of course we were very pleased when the administrative council of the EPO asked the EPO to start discussions to create such a possibility. Considering how the negotiations went and considering the concessions management was ready to make to get a deal there never was any reason for us not to continue negotiating.

Not even when FFPE EPO complained about suspension (and later sacking) of other unions' representatives? In a rather shallow way in some blog comment, and only after many comments had complained about FFPE EPO’s silence?

Our members which are all normal EPO staff and not higher managers were very convinced that the Memorandum which we managed to negotiate presented a clear improvement for the staff and therefore voted in favour of the deal with a large majority. The committee of FFPE EPO had therefore the obligation to follow the will of its members and sign this agreement.

Look at the timing of the signing. Is it not obvious? It was right before EPO propaganda day, intended to distract from negative publicity due to managerial abuse. Why become a tool of propaganda?

Explaining the roots of FFPE EPO, Samuel writes:

As for the question why FFPE-EPO was really created, I can say that one of the most important reasons many of our members, especially lower grade members give is “education allowance”. What is education allowance? Since EPO staff fall outside of the national system of subsidies etc.. the organisation gives a partial compensation for the costs of studying of the children of EPO staff. However this allowance is ONLY given to expatriate staff which do not have the Dutch nationality for the EPO in The Netherlands, the German nationality for the EPO staff in Munich or Berlin or the Austrian nationality in Vienna. We have launched and supported an internal appeal in the EPO against this rule and went all the way to the ILO in Geneva. Unfortunately since the EPO is not bound to decisions and case law of the European court in Luxembourg we lost our case. Nevertheless the fact that a French, German, Spanish etc.. colleague can send its children to a Dutch university and get most of its tuition fees reimbursed whereas a Dutch colleague sending his children to exactly the same Dutch university does not get any reimbursement at all remains profoundly unfair. This is also the only real reason why FFPE EPO is so fiercely attacked by some expat staff. They are extremely affraid [sic] that any opening of discussions on this specific topic might put in danger somehow the reimbursement of the extremely high tuition fees of their children to the most prestigious universities in the United States and the UK. Of course our lower grade Dutch colleagues will never be able to afford such tuition fees for their children.

The schools aspect was unknown to many, but here is a reference to Pompidou and the schools aspect (responding to a comment to be mentioned in full later):

“Most of the staff is supportive to SUEPO actions nowadays, while FFPE historically is there because the dutch are jealous of the non-dutch staff (e.g. British School), they never called a Strike and they were not part of recent actions, I dunno even why they are there since the staff couldn’t care more about them.”

They are not there because of the British and other international schools that non-Dutch staff unlike Dutch staff can send their children to at no cost (but at rather significant costs to the EPO) whereas in Munich all staff can send their children to the European school. That system was in place in The Hague long before FFPE was founded.

They are also not there because of expat allowance for non-Dutch staff. Unlike the majority of German staff in Munich, Dutch staff in The Hague generally do not answer “please abolish the expat allowance” when asked what would make them happiest.

They are there because of the seat agreement signed by Pompidou in 2005 (the agreement that Kober wisely did not wish to sign in that form) and the way Suepo The Hague dealt with Dutch staff’s concerns at that time. The seat agreement significantly extended the privileges of non-Dutch staff. Note that no such privileges or special treatment regimes for non-German staff exist in Munich. With about half of Munich staff being German the Office knows better than to accept such measures that would split staff in two camps, like the seat agreement did in The Hague but with one camp being too small and too unrepresented to be heard.

That said, I simply cannot understand why FFPE chose to sign this MoU at this time. It is historically bad judgment. Whether BB survives the next weeks or not, FFPE will remain tainted by this.

So again, while the intention may have been benign, the impact will be negative, maybe even to FFPE EPO itself. “From the NRC article,” as a new comment put it, “this speaks for itself” (it uses our translation):

This week, you signed an agreement with a small union. A step, but not a solution for your conflict with SUEPO, which represents half of the staff.

“You should not judge the patent office with Dutch eyes. We are not Dutch, German or French. We are European, with different cultures and traditions. (…) We will continue the dialogue and the recognition of unions that accept our legal framework. I sincerely hope that SUEPO realize that their “empty seat” is not to the advantage of employees or of the patent office.”

Samuel wrote:

Now you could just say, that is just tough luck for the lower grade employees of the EPO and they should just shut up, be silent, and support the union whose representatives voted against granting education allowance in the internal appeal committee of the EPO and did everything they could to silence their protest.

Or alternatively you could decide that you are a good person that wants to do what is right and just.

This leads to the appearance of benevolence and sincerely/honest intentions, but still, at what cost? It seems like FFPE EPO got somewhat entrapped here. For the promise of cheaper education for lower grade staff and their families they need to submit to Battistelli and his goons? Is that like a package deal?

Again, it seems more like Battistelli ‘tricked’ Samuel into becoming a PR item on his agenda (to be ‘sold’ to the Administrative Council). I am abundantly convinced that Samuel meant to do the right thing (from his point of view) and now he pays the price of trusting Battistelli. To quote Samuel:

Anyway, regardless of your decision I have not given up on doing the right thing even if it is difficult and it makes me one of the most hated persons in the EPO. I just don’t care, I have had all kinds of hate mail a person can get so I have a very thick skin by now.

Sending hate mail is, suffice to say, counterproductive. Battistelli with his photo op and new talking point (and lying to journalists about it) is the main problem.

Debunking the obsession about nationality (which we never entertained much anyway), Samuel wrote:

We have by the way members of all nationalities in our union. For some people it is however because of the internal pressure not so easy to come forward as a candidate for our committee.

Given that the MoU might be irrevocable, it may be time to cooperate or liaise with FFPE EPO, trying to do “the right thing,” as Samuel put it, and change the President with whom this Memorandum got signed. Given the feedback that Samuel has received, perhaps now he too can back-stab Battistelli, in the same way that Battistelli’s circle back-stabbed FFPE EPO by sticking/wiping a photo op right in people’s faces (and in the faces of journalists in England, Germany and the Netherlands). Samuel wrote:

Anybody who is willing to negotiate with us and to do what is right in the EPO, for the benefit of the employees and for the European Public in general, I will talk with, no matter what people may say or may think. The Memorandum was signed with the EPO and not just with one president, it is meant to last for a long time and it is meant for every union in the EPO which does not wish to continue the current empty chair policy.

Unless FFPE EPO openly expresses concern (after the MoU) about Battistelli’s actions, people will maintain their already negative perception of FFPE EPO. As one person put it:

I bed my printed version of ECLA (may God send the CPC to hell) and my EPC bible, that as soon as Terminator is fallen, the so obedient guys of the FFPE-EPO will quickly turncoat and declare urbi et orbi that the pressure exerted on them for signing was irresistible.

Also see this person who says that “apparently the Federal Bureau of FFPE assisted in the drafting and negotiation of this MoU. Really? That will be news to most EPO staff, and must therefore have happened clandestinely.”

In Anonymous’s haste to justify the unjustifiable, he unwittingly only confirms the suspicions that most of us are expressing:

“FFPE EPO does enjoy the full support to sign this MoU from one of the largest union federations FFPE represented at the EU commission, the EU council, the council of Europe, Eurocontrol etc.. and the Federal bureau of this Union Federation assisted in drafting and negotiation of the present MoU. A memorandum of Understanding is a very normal gentleman’s agreement signed between unions and the management of an International Organisation.”

First of all, apparently the Federal Bureau of FFPE assisted in the drafting and negotiation of this MoU. Really? That will be news to most EPO staff, and must therefore have happened clandestinely. Were even the putative members on FFPE-EPO consulted during these negotiations? This claim is all the more surprising as the President has notoriously resisted any requests for external involvement in any staff matter, both from SUEPO and from Board 28. But in this case no doubt it must have suited him.

Moreover, the claim that this text is a “very normal gentleman’s agreement signed between unions and management of an international organisation” gives the lie to the President’s claims that the EPO’s is in fact unprecedented! Speaking of its “normality” could someone from FFPE provide the texts of the other cited agreements, for comparison? I venture to speculate that they will be rather different and probably more like the drafts submitted by SUEPO based on best practice, but ignored by the management.

Yes, it’s true that it got virtually ignored. We noticed that. Now, to allude to actual numbers and scale differences:

1% of EPO staff is with FFPE
40% of EPO staff is with SUEPO
59% of EPO staff have decided that they do NOT want to join UNIONs

There are staff representatives to represent the staff, whatever any UNION does is a matter for them only.

So solving “problems” with the unions is still not solving the issue with the 59% of staff, whatever FFPE and SUEPO do they cannot represent the whole staff.

Most of the staff is supportive to SUEPO actions nowadays, while FFPE historically is there because the dutch are jealous of the non-dutch staff (e.g. British School), they never called a Strike and they were not part of recent actions, I dunno even why they are there since the staff couldn’t care more about them.

As a bit of a joke about the whitewashing of all this by the circle of Battistelli, who did a photo op with FFPE folks:

“Something went wrong with BB’s white-wash!” says…

From SUEPO (XXL) —39% shrinkage —> FFPE-EPO (S)

I WANT MY STAFF REPS BACK!!!!

SUEPO is the union where there were personal sacrifices, unlike FFPE EPO.

“The FFPE are a well-meaning lot, and they certainly don’t have any truck with Battistelli bullshit. They’re completely Dutch-centred, but that’s historical and doesn’t mean that they won’t welcome a wider membership,” one reader told us (we omit the rest). This is something we can agree with, not just for the sake of balance but also based on a conversation with Samuel van der Bijl. There’s no room for personal attacks here, as it seems like a case of wishful thinking and misguided actions, not malicious actions. To think or to believe that Battistelli will turn out to be a good partner is rather naive.

“The FFPE are a well-meaning lot, and they certainly don’t have any truck with Battistelli bullshit.”
      –Anonymous
“I have no hard feelings,” I told Samuel, “nor did I intend to hurt anyone’s feelings, except perhaps the top-level EPO management, which has done enormous damage to many people’s lives.

“I view FFPE EPO not as malicious but as gullible, as it’s clear what plans the top-level EPO management had for FFPE all along, based on many documents which I studied.”

“Maybe it would interest you that although there are 2 SUEPO representatives on my floor.”
      –FFPE EPO Chairman
“FFPE EPO is not gullible at all,” Samuel told me. “There is a story behind the story and there are NO people with clean hands on either side of the conflict. For the record FFPE EPO does not have a conflict with anybody in the EPO but a difference of opinion with both sides. We have never and will never close the door to anybody willing to negotiate.

“Maybe it would interest you that although there are 2 SUEPO representatives on my floor. I have never in the entire process been approached by SUEPO to discuss the MoU and they consistently refused to come to the meetings as well. They cannot blame the FFPE to sign a document which we negotiated and which therefore is perfectly suitable to our needs.”

Based on documents from last year, SUEPO did give peace a chance, but EPO management did not. The EPO management was more interested in embracing a ‘soft’ union with conditions that favour the management, and that’s what it got at the end. As someone put it in the comments:

Well, well, well says….

BB has now his private FFPE union, after all… he may need some protection as well for negotiating his redundancy package! I heard that there are plenty of managers signing up with the FFPE, or is this just another rumour?

Here is a good comment about the impact of signing the MoU, whether intended or not:

Dear Mr. van der Bijl,

you may be a decent person, and the idea of signing a MoU is in itself not wrong at all.

But doing it in a moment in which Battistelli clearly needs to feed to the AC the narrative that progress is made on the social side in what will be a very difficult meeting for him on the 16 of March, seems totally inappropriate. I’m surprised you don’t realize you seem to be only used for Propaganda reasons.

Btw, someone above writes that “FFPE EPO does enjoy the full support to sign this MoU from one of the largest union federations FFPE represented at the EU commission, the EU council, the council of Europe, Eurocontrol etc.. and the Federal bureau of this Union Federation assisted in drafting and negotiation of the present MoU”.

Is this true?

The same kind of sentiments come from ‘Barbi’:

Congratulations on the bold move of reaching an understanding with BB who is someone with whome nobody els, not even the AC managed to reach an understanding!

At the same time, chances are that BB will go sooner rather than later and in the worst case, the MoU may be terminated. But, a bold move stays a bold move.

Clever, isn´t it? Congratulations!

Barbi

There was never a sincere effort to give SUEPO a fair deal. As one person recently put it: “Instead the focus of the administration seemed to have been to give only the appearance of a dialog by “doing a meeting”,” which basically means a lot of this ‘social dialogue’ of ‘union recognition’ was PR or theatre. It was supposed to give the impression of EPO being forthcoming and SUEPO being “angry” and “intolerant”, even unreasonable, unlike “good” FFPE.

There are some Dutch translation bits (we published a translation of this whole article before) in a couple of comments [1, 2], one of which noting: “In another passage, Battistelli refuses any external review of the disciplinary decisions” (hence he isn’t sincere in reforming anything, having arrogantly ignored disciplinary decisions).

One comment touched the validity of the MoU just signed:

Reading carefully Article 9 of the MoU on “Representativeness of the unions”, one can notice the presence of an “or” between the second and third bullet:

1. Subject to meeting the requirements set out in Article 7, the EPO shall recognise as representative the unions which meet the following criteria:
- they elect their officials in democratic and transparent elections;
- they present candidates in official elections with the purpose of having elected staff representatives OR
- they have elected staff representatives.

Yes, presenting candidates in official EPO elections (even if they fail to be elected, as was the case of the FFPE-EPO candidates during last elections in June 2014) is good enough to be representative, and to sign this MoU.

A tailor made criterion?

Noting correctly that Battistelli is a megalomaniac who would not tolerate any criticism or dissenting input from FFPE EPO, one person noted:

You took my comment away and I couldn’t have put it better!

@Sam van der Bijl. How can one be so naïf to even think of expressing an opinion on a network controlled by BB?! As soon as someone would dare addressing the FFPE-EPO Nomenklatura with “I don’t agree”, the BB-thugs will be carrying that someone away with the accusation of harassment. Mr Sam “BB” van der Bijl, I wonder if you are really believing in what you are doing, in the way you are doing it, or you are just happy to be in the grace of the tyrant. In both cases, that disqualifies you to represent me in any form of negotiation.

With regard to the affiliation and representation of FFPE-EPO at European level, maybe the readers would like to have a look at the affiliation of some branches of SUEPO at European as well as at international level, e.g. USF and EPSU

EPO staff cannot coexist with Battistelli and never co-existed with him (peacefully). He stuffed the management tier with his friends, so it only got worse over time.

Referring to SRs (staff representatives), the following comment alluded to Brimelow:

I find the current FFPE bashing problematic.
While I do find their general quietness problematic, and the timing of having agreed to the MoU at this time even more so, they did publish several opinions on the questionably legality of the different new guidelines, investigation guidelines,…
Nobody really cared reading about them.
And yes, FFPE did call for supporting the strikes, but refused to support “flexi strikes”.
I am not a member, nor do I intend to switch to “the other” union, but we do not need to bash them in this way.

They are a lot smaller, and as such have a lot less ressources available, also less experience.

We will see how Mr. BB will use the MoU.
Since the opinion of SR was already ignored, he now has another hurdle: the documents need to be slightly earlier on the table, so that the union can discuss it before it goes to the committees with SR representatives.
Thay may, if well coordinated,. give SR more time to prepare for their meetings.

We’ll see how it plays out. but I fear that the administration introduced by Miss Brimelow with their “here is our proposal, you have 48 hours until GAC/GCC meeting to give us your opinion” will not change…

Responding to the above, one person wrote:

This should not be problem since FFPE-EPO has only one opinion that of the ruler who feed them …..

Then, appropriately enough, FFPE’s grudge against SUEPO got brought up:

if only ! FFPE consistently shot on SUEPO in their few rather pathetic publications, pilling their venoms around on order of EPO top management.

See the last one they had hanging on walls at EPO where FFPE says in a nutshell (without knowing anything about the substance) that if SUEPO officials have been sanctioned, they must have done something….

Again FFPE is a union that supports the EPO management. nothing more nothing less.

And yes Mr van der Bijl some documents have been forwarded by FFPE officials in the defense file of the EPO vs SUEPO.

This shows your pathetic level and the blatant abuse of the word union for your activities

“Shame on those representatives who sell out on such an important matter,” George Brock-Nannestad wrote. Or in full:

I think that the saddest provision of the MoU is “Article 13, 6. In case agreement is reached,…………………………………. The signatory unions shall in this case not support or encourage individual litigation actions.”

Litigation must be seen as a last resort action (well, there does not seem to be any other) that a wronged employee can take, and this is when such a person needs all support possible from colleagues. But now such a person is turned into a pariah. How very inhuman! Shame on those representatives who sell out on such an important matter.

George Brock-Nannestad

As it turns out, next month Samuel will no longer be the Chairman of FFPE EPO. He told me this himself:

I can not be a candidate for the position of chairman of FFPE-EPO for another term because our statutes maximize this to 2 terms unlike another big union in the EPO. From April onwards another chairman will take my place with no doubt the same energy.

This means that FFPE EPO’s direction can change very soon, as can the policies and the stance on Battistelli (if he is still at the Office at that time). Battistelli, as we showed here before, is already dead man walking. He will try to use FFPE EPO as a bargaining card to salvage his career. As this new comment put it: “Any decent union leader would not have signed such a MoU. And any decent union leader would have chosen a better time to sign a MoU (were the said MoU one that one could sign without loosing ones face). It is a disgrace.”

One comment there challenged Battistelli’s credibility, stating:

From the Article published in Le Monde, 7 April 2015:

“He even agreed to show Le Monde his employment contract and disclose his salary, “about 250,000 Euros a year.”

From the Article in nrc.nl, 3 March 2015

“Ik verdien 300.000 euro per jaar.”

Now, which is it Mr. Battistelli?

Did your salary increase of 20% in less that one year? With the mess you are putting the office in? And who approved such an increase?

Or is it rather that these are just random values fed to the press to calm them down?

Interestingly, the fact that these values increase with the time – and the pressure you are subject to -, suggests that we are far from the real value …

The web does not forget – and forgive – anything, Mr. Battistelli.

The salary will be the subject of a future post.

The latest comment (at the time of writing) is a sort of hypothetical set of statements:

JK : If I went to work for the EPO, the first thing I’d do would be to join a trade union.

AC: As can be seen in our history, the only answer to a powerful EPO President is a powerful trade union. BB always tells you that he got the EPO more efficient through hard work, ask him whose?

Press: Every AC delegation can consider themselves dishonest who only lives upon the labour of the EPO staff and don’t care who occupies the throne.

BB: One of these days you’ll see the light and we’ll have the trade unions in. Just a matter of time they will sign the MoU.

EB: The Brussels office is the most effective place to preach the gospel of unionism.

VP1: The problem with the EPO unions today is that there aren’t enough of them. The FFPE-EPO could come in useful.

SUEPO: We have come too far, struggled too long, sacrificed too much and have too much left to do, to allow that which we have achieved for the good of all to be swept away without a fight. And we have not forgotten how to fight.

Press: The only effective answer to prevent for organized greed is organized labour.

FFPE-EPO: A trade union is not a fee-for-service organization, it is a family.

SUEPO: There are two kinds of trade unions, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.

EPO staff: We don’t want a trade union or a democratic election without freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly. Without a democratic election, whereby people choose and remove their leader, there is no method of securing human rights against the EPO. No democracy without human rights, no human rights without democracy, and no trade union rights without either. That is our belief; that is our creed.

The key part there is probably “trade union or a democratic election without freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly.” Recall what we wrote about ballots less than a day ago. Eponia is not a democracy and it still doesn’t act like one. Even a rich (but ruthless) Monarchy like Brunei’s isn’t as embarrassing as this.

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