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12.16.16

Why EPO Staff is Up in Arms

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pitchforks come from management of the EPO, which keeps threatening if not also attacking the staff

Pitchfork

Summary: A 12-point explanation of why EPO staff is right to be mad and anger is justified not just for ethical reasons but legal reasons too

THE COMMENTS in The Register are rarely posted by EPO insiders, so there’s usually not much (new) information in them. An exception, however, could be found yesterday because someone expressed lack of understanding regarding the motivation for protests and strikes. Someone who is likely an EPO insider posted a detailed, enumerated response, which we have decided to reproduce below:

Where to begin…

1. Staff elected representatives. The EPO decided a new system was better and organis ed it’s own vote half way through the year, with different rules. The same people were elected basically but now they are under the direct control of the head of HR.

2. Three elected members have since been dismissed. Another has been demoted. We don’t know why. It is a disciplinary offence to reveal why or even that you are subject to disciplinary proceedings. Others are rumoured to be also threatened.

3. The EPO recognises a union with about 50 members (out of ca. 6900 staff). The union of ca. 3000 members is not.

4. The staff must ask the EPO if it (the EPO) will agree to organise a strike ballot. The EPO has said no on occasions but the ballot is organised according to the EPO’s rules – no communication to staff is allowed. The staff still voted overwhelmingly for a strike.

5. The Dutch High Court declared that the staff did not have the rights according to the UNHRC. The EPO declared immunity and ignored it (but also appealed – to a court it will ignore…).

6. The ILO-AT has just decided that the current appeals system at the EPO is not legal (since 2014). All decisions should be re- done as the EPO chose the staff representatives themselves. The EPO had demoted the two previous representatives for their attempt to have a fair syste.

… will I go on….

[...]

OK. And:

7. Staff are concerned that a suicide on-site could not be investigated by Dutch authorities (immunity!).

8. A member of the Boards of Appeal (a judge so to speak) has been suspended for 2 years (s/he is not allowed to say why but the top management have made particular negative statements to the press concerning the person which are not part of the case, it seems). Internal bodies have not supported the President’s actions but the member is still suspended on reduced pay.

9. The Administrative Council have urged and “stressed” that the President should involve them or independent judges in disciplinary cases involving elected staff representatives. He has still dismissed one since that, without informing the AC in advance.

10. Public computers at the EPO were discovered to be being monitored by software, seemingly contrary to Bavarian law.

11. Staff’s contracts of employment (and future pensions) have been unilaterally altered with no consultation.

12. In all disciplinary matters the committee recommends but the President decides irrespective. Under the committee formed by the EPO, judged deficient by the ILO, the proportion of successful appeals by staff has hit rock bottom.

If someone out there can think of anything to add to the above list (there’s plenty more), consider adding comments below.

EPO management has repeatedly attempted to invert the narrative, painting unions as aggressors and management as the victim. Battistelli even paid some newspapers to construct and reinforce this bogus narrative. With over a million Euros per year spent on peripheral PR agencies, well… some people might actually fall for it. The rebellious element at the EPO is the management with its so-called ‘reforms’ that are totally irrational; Extremely upset, indignant staff is trying to actually protect the Office from this clueless management. We too wish to save the Office.

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