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06.13.16

Another EPO Staff Demonstration Planned for a Fortnight From Now When Battistelli Wishes to Make the EPO Even Crazier

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More attacks on the basic rights of EPO staff are in the pipeline and provocative comments or spin about these have begun to emerge

THIS week is an important week for the EPO not just because of the spontaneous protest and what inevitably caused it but also because of tomorrow's 'trial' against a judge, whose ‘crime’ seems to be saying the truth about the EPO. No dissent is tolerated by Battistelli, not even within boards that are in principle independent from his regime. Battistelli already went as far as intimidating lawyers, staff unions, apparently spouses of staff representatives, politicians, delegates, and even yours truly. This man is crazy and his loyal confidants (whom he typically brought with him from France or ‘rescued’ from criminal charges in Zagreb) inherited a position with little effective oversight and over the past few years removed any oversight that had remained in tact. It’s quite a coup!

For those who believe that things are as bad as they can get, believe no more. It can get worse unless Battistelli, who is arrogant enough to totally ignore the Administrative Council and grossly defy their demands, gets canned. Here is what SUEPO says about Battistelli’s imminent plans. “The next attacks on staff,” SUEPO calls it, listing the proposals below:

On 29 and 30 June the next meeting of the Administrative Council will take place. The Office has prepared 5 (!) documents for decision that concern staff:

- CA/15/16 on self-insurance for health-care costs
This reform, if accepted by the Council, will give the President the full, unrestricted power to change the cover and reimbursement conditions of the EPO’s obligatory health care insurance whenever he sees fits, as he sees fit.

- CA/29/16 on post-service employment restrictions
This document proposes to give the President full, unrestricted power to decide whether an employee who has left the Office (resigned, retired or dismissed) may during two years take up a given new employment or unpaid activity. The regulations would apply to staff already in place and as well as colleagues who already left. They could seamlessly combine with the obligation for an active employee “to take the necessary steps for terminating … any employment exercised by his spouse where such employment is in any way connected with the Organisation and proves to be incompatible with that of the employee”, if the President so decides. A financial compensation is foreseen in none of the cases.

- CA/52/16 “standards of conduct” and investigations
The proposed regulations would give still wider powers to the Investigative Unit. They would also impose on staff the obligation to denounce their colleagues for any behaviour that is not in line with ill-defined “standards of conduct” or a long list of possible misconducts. Significantly, this obligation does not apply to “documents, deeds, reports, notes or information covered by specific requirements of confidentiality under the legal framework of the Organisation”, i.e. to misconduct by the Investigative Unit or other parts of the administration. Any references to data protection regulations have completely disappeared. We advise staff to read this document.

- CA/53/16 concerns a review of the disciplinary procedures
The change of regulation proposed in CA/29/16, if accepted by the Council, will take dismissals for professional incompetence out of the hands of the disciplinary committee and thereby double the time needed to challenge such a decision via an internal appeal rather than directly to ILOAT. It also introduces a “plea bargain” for employees who accept “unreservedly” the accusations against them. This very much smacks of coercion.

- CA/aa/16 concerns the planned reform of DG3
The document contains all the flaws already criticized in a previous version, and more. The document pretends that the proposals will increase the “perception” of independence of DG3, but in fact limits its independence.

The above seems to be ‘custom-made’ for particular cases and people whom Battistelli wishes to crush. This isn’t the first such incident. For instance, recall the retroactive legislation which we mentioned this morning. This smacks of monarchy disguised or ‘dressed up’ as politics.

SUEPO is not too optimistic about Battistelli getting the sack later this month and it explains why as follows:

What about the resolution of the Council?

In its March meeting the Administrative Council voted for a resolution clearly signalled Mr Battistelli what improvements were expected from him. Mr Battistelli has not just simply ignored the instructions of the Council but did exactly the contrary on several points. We will have to see how the Council delegates, in particular those of the smaller Member States, will react. Will they accept their responsibility for the Organisation and exercise their supervisory role, or will they bow their heads and be beaten – with free „urgent“ medical and dental care (the «urgency» to be decided by the President), prestigious jobs in the Council bodies and a generous share of the EPO’s 13 million Euro co-operation budget as a compensation for their hurt pride?

The Central Staff Committee (CSC) sent all the delegates a letter explaining why the above proposals of the President are wrong, and asking them to vote against these proposals. In order to further encourage the delegates to do the right thing we plan another demonstration on the first day of the Council meeting. Further details will be communicated as soon as possible.

Proposed Article 19 of the Service Regulations

(2) A permanent employee or former employee intending to engage in an occupational activity, whether gainful or not, within two years of leaving the service, shall inform the appointing authority thereof. If that activity is related to the work he carried out during the last three years of his service and could lead with to a conflict with the legitimate interests of the Office, the appointing authority may … either forbid him from undertaking that activity or give its approval subject to any conditions it thinks fit.

(8) The appointing authority may lay down further terms and conditions for the application of this Article to the respective employees; …

CA/29/16

With or without consent from staff and delegates, the Battistelli regime is treating the Appeal Boards like unwanted fossils, essentially demolishing these boards little by little. Some further attacks on the appeals process, as mentioned last week by a reputable blog, are now officially being confirmed by the EPO (warning: epo.org link), effective only a day or two after the Administrative Council’s meeting. There are two new articles today about the EPO Enlarged Board [1, 2] and it is abundantly clear that these boards are needed. To Battistelli, however, these are probably an obstacle or a nuisance to his ‘baby’, the UPC, and so-called ‘production’ (quality control is not desirable when one measures the wrong things with the wrong yardstick).

Looking at IP Kat today, we cannot help wondering; Are there so many Battistelli apologists out there or is EPO management perhaps sending people to IP Kat a week after censorship of the whole blog was attempted? There is a sharp rise in provocative comments and responses to these. Some of these try to spin the above changes as perfectly normal and banal, discrediting those who raise concerns and saying stuff such as this (from someone called “Peeps”, whom we never encountered before):

If that activity is related to the work he carried out during the last three years of his service and could lead to a conflict with the legitimate interests of the Office, the appointing authority may…

IF
AND
MAY…

Simple Boolean logic demonstrates the narrowness of application.

The polite response to it was as follows:

“Simple Boolean logic demonstrates the narrowness of application.”

Dear Peeps,

Actually, simple legal analysis demonstrates the narrowness of your logic – but you are probably not used to read and interpret legal documents – let me help you out here.

The problem with the passage that you cite actually is with the words “could” and “legitimate interests of the Office”.

How do you decide in advance what “could” lead to a conflict of interests with the Office?

And what are these “legitimate interests of the Office”, pray tell me?

But most importantly, who decides what could lead to a conflict and what are these interest?

Yes, the President.

And the only recourse you have against that is the ILO (7+ years).

You’re welcome.

Not to overuse the term “Internet troll”, is it possible that after the censorship of IP Kat backfired and was quickly abandoned there is a change of strategy managed by the PR agency/ies? watch them throwing more insults [1, 2] at each other, which is probably what pro-Battistelli messaging (or Battistelli apologists) would seek to generate. New pseudonyms like “PB” are being used. We never saw these before…

As we shall show later this week, the huge PR budget of the EPO goes a long way. Prepare for trolls. Imagine how far a bunch of fake letters (or AstroTurfing) can go when addressing the Administrative Council’s delegates. Lobbying behind the scenes can be a lot worse (i.e. more powerful) than public spin-meisters because there is no room for scrutiny of said claims. Battistelli’s EPO is unethical enough to attempt this.

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