03.23.16

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FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FFPE-EPO
Click for larger-sized image

Summary: FFPE-EPO spreads fliers that attempt to frame a submissive memorandum of understanding (MoU) with abusive management as an advantage

FFPE-EPO, a union so soft that even Battistelli can love it, was covered here earlier this month in the following set of articles, sorted chronologically:

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document

The letter/flier above is self explanatory and the last link (above) helps explain why FFPE-EPO is misguided if it genuinely believes this kind of MoU will “defend [...] employment conditions.” Union Syndicale Federale almost joked about the ‘benefits’ of this MoU.

Update: Here is the text of the above image:

Why is a MoU good for the EPO, its staff and FFPE?

Submitted by S van der Bijl [illegible] on Mon. 01/02/2016 – 14:24

The FFPE committee members often get questions from colleagues why we are still negotiating or why we favour a memorandum of understanding between EPO and the unions. The question of a memorandum is then soon linked together with developments concerning disciplinary proceedings against certain staff representatives.

I think that that link is wrong and even if a link could be made it should be leading towards the opposite decision namely signing an agreement to avoid further deterioration of the conflict.

MOU’s ARE A VERY NORMAL AND COMMON IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

Agreements concerning recognition of unions are something very normal in international organisations. The EU commission, the EU council and the EU parliament have such agreements called ’Framework agreements ’ or with the French equivalent term “Accord cadre”. Some coordinated organisations such as Eurocontrol also have such an agreement in place. These agreements come on top of and do not replace the staff committees. It is even explicitly mentioned in these agreements that there shall be no prejudice to the role of the staff committees. The proposal on the table for the EPO also contains such a clause. Nobody can therefore claim in any possible way having been negatively affected by the signing of a framework agreement between a union and the management of the organisation. So it is a perfectly normal situation in a normal organisation to sign an agreement which makes it explicit what the nature is of the relation between a recognised union and the management of the organisation. An agreement also means that both parties arrange the elements necessary for discussing with each other and recognising that the other party is entitled to defend the interests of their members. It means concretely that the organisation provides some basic facilities and that the union agrees to function within a certain legal framework even when it does not agree with decisions that are taken.

INVESTIGATIONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH A MOU

If signing an agreement is something perfectly normal in any organisation but not at the EPO what is then so special about the EPO that many people have a problem with it here? Two years ago there were staff representation elections which resulted in the election of a certain number of independent non-affiliated staff reps. For reasons like “too much stress” or “too poisoned atmosphere” these representatives gave up their functions relatively quickly after their election. Soon after these events complaints were launched against representatives from SUEPO and when investigations were launched against these representatives SUEPO tried to use the negotiation process as a means of leverage to make the EPO stop these investigations and ignore the complaints.

The argument was: “you cannot negotiate with a gun to your head”. This argument is flawed. Not all SUEPO representatives were investigated, but only those against whom other colleagues who complained were investigated. There is no reasons to make a link between the two issues and since we do not know the exact nature of the complaints and cannot analyse whether there is enough evidence we cannot make an opinion about these investigations. We only noticed that the disciplinary committee which is a plenary body also containing staffrep nominees ruled unanimously that the accused were guilty. We will leave it therefore up to ATILO in Geneva to take the final decision. It would be incorrect to take a position in this except that we do believe that the investigation guidelines need to be reviewed. We had this opinion already at the moment they were Introduced and had published about that at the time.

WHY IT WOULD BE GOOD TO SIGN AN MOU REGARDLESS WHETHER YOU MAKE A LINK OR NOT

The MoU as it is proposed details the rights and obligations of management and unions in the EPO. It recognises the unions right to negotiate employment conditions and to defend the rights of the employees. It grants the union representatives time and means to negotiate and form an opinion, whether positive, negative or partly positive before any proposal goes to the GCC. It also allows a union to put issues on the agenda that the staff need or asked for. The MoU is a gentleman’s agreement, this means there is no court mentioned where the EPO can sue a union or vice versa. Both parties are responsible for making it work and if it doesn’t agreement can also be cancelled by one of the two parties. In principle a respected MoU should lead to a situation where the permanent conflict between unions and management that has been going on since the beginning of EPO in 1973 stops and the EPO enters the 21st century and develops normal relations as other organisations have them too. That does not mean there will never be any conflicts any more or that there won’t be any strikes but it does mean we do not continue destroying our employer’s reputation by a damaging proxy battle in the national media. Is it really such an ideal situation that changes to the Codex are only presented to the GCC very shortly before the meeting and adopted by the council very quickly thereafter? If you like the way things go please continue supporting the status quo. I believe the EPO deserves much better and the MoU opens the door for major improvements in our relations and a better future for the organisation.

DEFEND THEREFORE YOUR EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS, SUPPORT THE MOU AND JOIN FFPE!

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