Like anyone seriously thought that Battistelli would obey the law, for a change…
Summary: The compositions of kangaroo courts at the EPO continue to be absurd, in spite of a ruling from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which insisted that change must be made following a lot of mistrials
EARLIER THIS year we heard about escalations in Battistelli’s attack on staff, emboldened by a Dutch court’s decision to maintain Battistelli’s immunity. In December the International Labour Organisation ruled that for a couple of years Battistelli’s EPO had not offered justice to workers] (a hundred if not several hundreds people are affected by this gross injustice).
Of high relevance to this is the following statement from the written determination:
This morning, EPO workers (i.e. colleagues) had disseminated among them information about what had been happening behind the scenes (quiet before the storm?). In a nutshell, Battistelli’s ‘herculean’ actions continue to rattle or threaten staff representatives and thus provide less incentive to keep one’s place there (or even join). These aren’t mere deterrence tactics but union-busting tactics. Anyone can see that.
“In Judgement 3785,” said an insider, “ILOAT declared the composition of the internal Appeals Committee (ApC) illegal for the years 2014 (partly), 2015 and 2016. With CA/D 18/16, the Office and the Administrative Council reacted and revised Article 36(2) of the Service Regulations in December 2016. Staff representation considers that this proposal is flawed as not responding to the requirement of the ILOAT regarding the balance representation of parties [excerpt of the Judgment can be seen above]. The CSC counterproposal to the B28 remains uncommented so far.”
So the more things ‘change’, the more they stay the same. The person who leaked this to us remarked: “I would suggest that a copy should also be sent to Mr Rouiller, President of the ILOAT [and Former President of the Federal Tribunal (Supreme Court of the Swiss Confederation)] who poignantly declared his satisfaction as the EPO is implementing “some” of the rulings issued by the Tribunal. Sounds like Mr. Rouiller spoke too early. A corrective disapproval would be welcome.”
It turns out, based on letters which are circulating these days, that ILOAT should escalate its actions (not that it has much authority or power over the EPO, as long as immunity remains and Battistelli prevails).
“The nominations made by the CSC in December,” wrote the insider, “were turned down by the President who called in January the 25th on individual elected Staff Representatives to volunteer for the ApC, in accordance with new Article 36(2)(a) ServRegs, last sentence, first alternative. Besides one staff representative, none of the elected Staff Representatives Office-wide responded positively to the call (see exemplary letter below).”
Here is one such letter from one week ago:
“It seems that the President decided to selectively apply its own rules and proceeded on 13 February 2017,” said the insider, “with the drawing of lots (new Article 36(2)(a), last sentence, second alternative) only to complement the three further members of the ApC. And the “winners” are…:
1) ███ ███ (███ ███)
2) ███ ███ (███ ███)
3) ███ ███ (███ ███)
“The Administration was not in a position to indicate who would be a full member and who would be alternate [so folks] are awaiting a decision of the President of the Office about the new complete composition. The mandate of the members will end on 30 June 2017.
“In fine, the ApC is now composed with
· one volunteer* appointed “ex officio”, who was previously member of the declared illegally composed ApC;
· one Staff Representative, who is the complainant of the ILO Appeal which clarified the illegal composition of the ApC;
· and two SRs [staff representatives] with who sent beforehand a letter to the President explaining the reasons why they were not eligible for the job and the drawing of lots.
“It is hard to see how a flawed rule, applied “flexibly” by the captain of the ship, with more than questionable results does serve the interest of Staff and the Office in an adequate and balanced manner?
“Without being a lawyer, under these conditions the quote from the CH [Swiss] delegation in the AC [Administrative Council] takes a particularly acute meaning: “There is a great risk, that we will see ourselves in a short while in the same situation as today”. Just with a more complicated legal situation.
This issue has already been raised (2 days ago) in Munich:
Central Staff Committee Members Munich
13 February 2017
Dear Mr. President,
We refer to your letter of 26 January 2017, in which you asked all staff committee members to volunteer for a function in the Appeals Committee. We further refer to the email of 10 February inviting all CSC and LSC members to attend a drawing of lots today.
Already when you called for volunteers in December 2014, the CSC sent you a letter explaining why it could not nominate. There were also no volunteer from among the CSC. The same reasons remain valid today. Accordingly, you will have noticed that we did not volunteer this time, either.
At this stage, we would like to notify you that we will not be available for being included in the pool for the drawing of lots. We specifically request that you do not include us in the pool of eligible staff members within the meaning of Article 36(2)(a) ServRegs.
In addition, we wish to draw your attention to the following facts:
1. We stood for election in the Central Staff Committee in 2014. We had no intention to be members of the Appeals Committee, nor was there any such obligation then in the Service Regulations. We have a legitimate expectation to be left to carry out our duties as staff representatives, without being saddled with additional burdens we have never considered taking on.
2. In a meeting with PD43, PD53 and Director 5.3.2. on 8 December 2016, we apparently came to a common understanding about the staff members which would be eligible for sitting in the Appeals Committee, e.g. excluding so-called “repetitive” appellants or members of the Boards of Appeal. The outcome of these discussions as well as our repeated requests to broaden the pool of eligible staff members available for appointment by the CSC were ignored later, most notably in the GCC meeting on 12 December 2016 when you submitted the proposal to amend Article 36 ServRegs.
3. As members of the Central Staff Committee in the biggest place of employment, we are not only dealing with all the central issues which fall under the competence of the CSC, but we are also directly or indirectly advising individual staff members about their rights, and in some cases act as counsels in internal appeals. This role was and is an integral part of our duties as staff representatives. There would be a direct and fatal conflict of interest if we were also to sit in the Appeals Committee. (Please refer to the statement of VP4 and VP5 of 30.09.2014 and to your Communiqué 61.)
4. If you were to coerce us into participating in the Appeals Committee, we would not be able to act impartially as staff representatives. If you were to oblige us to resign from the staff representation to avoid that quandary, you would be violating the principle of freedom of association.
5. Within the framework of the Working Group on resources for the Staff Committees, a specific budget for external expertise was requested – including lawyers to advise staff. We did so promptly upon taking up our tasks as elected staff representatives, as we realised that we could not cope effectively with all the workload involved in advising staff. PD43 has refused to make such budget and technical means available to us until today. Therefore, the Office itself bears a fundamental responsibility in creating the situation in which we cannot sit in the Appeals Committee.
6. At this point in time, there are even more severe problems of capacity for the remaining members of the CSC in Munich than in the previous years. Contrary to your assurances in CA/4/14 and in Communiqué 48 that the time budget for the staff representation would not be reduced with the introduction of “Social Democracy”, the figures show a massive decline. Moreover, the Office has imposed more and more constraints and hurdles in 2016, making our job exceedingly difficult – particularly for those exonerated from examiner duties only to 50%. It is simply physically impossible to take on (additional) demanding projects like the Appeals Committee. SUEPO members or officials amongst us have been particularly targeted.
Putting us in an impossible bind is not in the best interest of staff, the Office and of its reputation. It is also inadvisable to proceed in any way that could cause the Tribunal to condemn the EPO as it did in judgments 3694 and 3751. We trust that, upon careful reflection, you will not go down this road. We firmly believe that there are other ways to solve the issue, all within the current legal framework. We draw your attention to the letter sent by the CSC on 7 February 2017 (sc17016) which entails proposals which would immediately resolve the deadlock of the Appeals Committee.
From our side, we can only reassure staff, the President, and the Administrative Council that we will not act contrary to well-established legal principles and our ethical principles. We will not bring ourselves into any conflict of interest situation that will harm staff members, produce further undue workloads, and harm the sense of justice in our Office.
The undersigned CSC members in Munich.
And on the same day at The Hague (we haven’t had time to transcribe):
Justice cannot ever happen in darkness or in secret (secrecy betrays trust and breeds suspicion), so Techrights believes that the above should be publicised, excepting names. We urge our readers to contact Claude Rouiller (from Switzerland, so English, German and French should be fine) immediately and tell him that Battistelli takes him for a fool. According to this page, his E-mail address may still be
email@example.com. This is the kind of thing that Dutch authorities must become aware of, otherwise the Netherlands will become renowned not for international justice (e.g. ICC) but for the very opposite. It has already become quite a farce which we wrote nearly a dozen articles about. Among them:
- Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It’s OK, Holland’s High Council Says
- EPO Abuses Now Make the Netherlands Look Like a Facilitator of Human/Labour Rights Abuses
- Media Blasts EPO Over Immunity Amid Suicides, Battistelli’s Behaviour Compared to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s
- Leaked: Team Battistelli, Exploiting a Controversial Decision From the Netherlands, is Trying to Squash SUEPO
- The EPO’s Freedom to Disregard the Law and Abuse Employees is “Being Taken up by the Council of Europe”
- The Netherlands With Its Bizarre Decision to Let the EPO Violate Dutch Law, Now in English
- “Team Battistelli Continues With Intimidation Tactics”
- The European Patent Office Officially Dishonours Justice, So It’s Time for SUEPO to Become Clandestine
- Culture of Terror at The European Patent Office Escalates Thanks to Dutch Government’s Complicity
Remember that the basis for the High Court’s decision to let the EPO off the hook is the supposed supervision — in the legal sense — by ILO, which obviously continues to not safeguard staff’s rights (too many referrals back to the kangaroo court) as Battistelli virtually snubs the ILOAT. This is part of an ongoing and never-ending pattern. The EPO views itself as above the law and it acts accordingly.