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03.10.16

Central Staff Committee of the European Patent Office Asks the Chairman of the Administrative Council to Take Action Next Week or Risk General (Office-Wide) Strike

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli is not genuinely interested in defusing the situation (cruel witch-hunts persist), so now the ball is in Kongstad’s court

Strike item

Summary: Rather than go on strike next week (there will be a protest, but not a strike) the staff representatives of EPO ask Mr. Jesper Kongstad to tackle urgent issues in order to prevent the strike

The above image, sent to us by an anonymous reader with the French text explained, “shows how the rules Battistelli [EPO President] imposed in 2013 for the purpose of impeding strikes backfired.”

As a recap, explained this reader, “nowadays you have to humbly file a petition to the Prince. If the Prince thinks the petition to be worthy of his attention (and His Highness decided twice not to pursue the matter), then He will organise himself a vote.

“And the ballot now takes place in your own office, during work hours, on EPO supplied computer equipment, with extremely limited voting by proxy provisions.”
      –Anonymous
“And the petition can be neither circulated by E-mail, nor discussed on the workplace, unless one is interested in a very short or limited career.

“And the ballot now takes place in your own office, during work hours, on EPO supplied computer equipment, with extremely limited voting by proxy provisions.

“And if the vote goes through, your salary is docked for a duration longer than the strike itself.

“Yet those idiots still don’t get the point.”

As explained by another person, reflecting/remarking on the results of the recent ballot:

This result is remarkable for the following reasons:

  • first because the ballot received little publicity: being organised by the Office according to its extraordinary practice – which to our knowledge is unique in any developed world – it received little publicity. It should also be noted that, while supporting the claims therein, neither the Union (SUEPO) nor the Staff Committee expressly championed the cause of this “grass-root” initiative – staying neutral, the institutions have merely encouraged Staff to make use of their democratic right.
  • Secondly because there was a general concern that the electronic voting itself and confidentiality of the votes could not be guaranteed: despite the present atmosphere of fear that reigns nowadays in the EPO, colleagues have participated in large numbers

Wait and watch how Battistelli et al try (not necessarily with success) to put more obstacles in order to prevent staff from going on strike. They have done this for weeks if not months (here is the more recent example of that).

“I think you’ll find that is the practice whereby BB [Battistelli] acts as a barrier to the AC [Administrative Council],” one person wrote a short while ago. “Interestingly there seems to be points on the B28 [Board 28] agenda about governance and the AC secretariat, which is provided by the office i.e. under BB’s general control. Don’t know why that is now an issue but clearly is.”

“…despite the present atmosphere of fear that reigns nowadays in the EPO, colleagues have participated in large numbers…”
      –Anonymous
Having navigated through various documents, including those pertaining to so-called ‘union recognition’ (there was no such intention with respect to SUEPO from Battistelli, as it was merely theatrical, probably intended to appease the Council), we are increasingly concerned that EPO workers still don’t deal with rational management. They deal with tyrants disguised as professionals — people who would allegedly even bribe in order to buy support. If your negotiation ‘partner’ plays so dirty, is it safe enough to play clean yourself? Is it possible at all?

Not too long ago we managed to get our hands on a letter sent to Mr. Kongstad, who is growing impatient with Battistelli. Here is what this letter says:

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

European Patent Office
80298 Munich
Germany
Central Staff Committee
Comité central du personnel
Zentraler Personalausschuss
Tel. +49 -89- 2399 – 4355
+43 -1-52126 – 305
+49 -30-25901 – 800
+31 -70-340 – 2028
centralSTCOM@epo.org
Reference: sc16039cl – 0.3.1/4.1
Date: 09.03.2016

To the Chairman and the Heads of
Delegations of the Administrative Council
of the EPO

Strike ballot results 08.03.2016 – Next steps

Dear Mr Kongstad,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a ballot organised yesterday, Staff of the European Patent Office voted overwhelmingly (91%) in favour of a strike. Staff has chosen the CSC as their interlocutor for the strike petition (see Annex). Unfortunately, no meaningful dialogue with the current management has been possible.

Next week the 147th meeting of the Administrative Council will take place in Munich. Since a strike should be a means of last resort, EPO staff is expecting a clear signal from the Council that will de-escalate the current crisis.

We also welcome any opportunity to relaunch the social dialogue through negotiation with serious partners. Therefore, we propose that a meeting should be organised between a delegation of the Council and a delegation from our side to address the concerns of staff.

Yours sincerely,
The Central Staff Committee

Annex: Call for Strike “Lawfulness at the EPO”

We confirm that this letter was legitimately decided and produced by the Central Staff Committee1.

______________________________
1 Pursuant to Article 35(3) ServRegs, the Central Staff Committee shall consist of ten full and ten alternate members.

The CSC presently consists of 9 full and 8 alternate members, because two have resigned in December 2014, one has been dismissed in January 2016 (against the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee) and one refused replacement of a full member against Article 7(3) of Circular 355.

One full member of the CSC has been downgraded in Jan 2016 (against the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee). In fact, the Office has launched investigations and disciplinary procedures against several other Staff representatives as well, affecting negatively their health.

It is worth noting, in addition to the above, that dissent against the management is at an all-time high by some measures.

As pointed out by one person, “history of votes “against” a proposed strike (/participants)

· 26.09.13: 306 (/ 4640)
· 13.03.14: 266 (/ 4119)
· 23.10.14: 353 (/ 3553)
· 08.03.16: 219 (/ 4062)

“This is the lowest result so far!”

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