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04.23.17

EPO Staff Representatives Fired Using “Disciplinary Committee That Was Improperly Composed” as Per ILO’s Decision

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union-busting in defiance of the rules of the EPO, e.g. Article 98(1) ServRegs

SUEPO Letter to AC

Summary: The Board of the Administrative Council at European Patent Organisation is being informed of the union-busting activities of Battistelli — activities that are both illegal (as per national and international standards) and are detrimental to the Organisation

THE EPO has been quiet lately, even days after Easter was finished. Someone has sent us the above letter, which is dated a few days ago and is worth reproducing below. The very concept of negotiating with Benoît Battistelli should be considered laughable at this stage. It’s entrapping oneself; the prospects of negotiating with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would likely be more positive and yield much more. At least the EU occasionally dares condemn him for his actions.

“The very concept of negotiating with Benoît Battistelli should be considered laughable at this stage.”In spite being 3 pages long (with Battistelli having a copy), this letter to Members of the Board of the Administrative Council (who are aware of "a crisis," in their own words) is quite short or at least concise. It focuses not on the technical perils but on the social and juridical perils, which concern the staff representatives who are unable to properly function any longer (under rational fear from an irrational tyrant who is accountable to nobody). Here is the letter in full (original above as animated GIF).

19 April 2017

Members of the Board
of the Administrative Council
European Patent Organisation

Restart of dialogue – SUEPO’s position

Dear Sir, Madam,

One of the aims of Resolution CA 26/16 is to reach “a consensus on an MoU which would establish a framework for negotiation between social partners”. However, as the Council also noted: “…the disciplinary sanctions and proceedings against staff or trade union representatives have, among other reasons, made it more difficult to reach such a consensus…”

So far, further discussions on union recognition between the EPO and SUEPO have remained impossible for well-known reasons. Furthermore, far from improving with time as might have been hoped, the social situation has in fact further deteriorated, particularly following the dismissal of a third staff representative and SUEPO official in November 2016.

At the same time, there is now an increased level of awareness both in the public and at the highest political level1 that something must be done to move forward.

_____
1 letter by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands dated 23 February 2017 (emphasis added):
In dit kader heb ik de heer Minnoye meegegeven dat de interne onrust te lang voortduurt en dat de situatie nu snel
verbetering behoeft. Om met spoed een begin te maken aan herstel van vertrouwen tussen het management en het
personeel, is voorgesteld de sociale dialoog constructief te hervatten en daarbij op zeer korte termijn een aantal
vertrouwenwekkende maatregelen, onder andere gebaseerd op de Social Study, door te voeren:

Heroverweging van disciplinaire maatregelen die ten aanzien van enkele vakbondsleden zijn ingezet

English translation:
In this context, I informed Mr Minnoye that the internal unrest has been going on for too long and that the situation now needs to improve quickly. In order to make a rapid start to restoring trust between the management and staff, the proposal is to resume constructive social dialogue and to introduce a number of trust-building measures in the very short term, based among other things on the Social Study:

Reconsideration of the disciplinary measures implemented with respect to certain trade-union members.


For our part, SUEPO remains committed to fulfilling the Council’s demands as set out in its resolution. As a gesture of good will we wish to inform you that we would be prepared to participate in a first and renewed meeting providing it would be organised with the involvement of an independent mediator.

We would be grateful if the Board 28 would consider endorsing this proposal at its next meeting in April 2017. Following this we would be prepared to enter into discussions concerning the selection of a mediator and other meeting arrangements.

We look forward to your response and attach, also for your consideration, a draft agenda for such a first meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
SUEPO Central Chairman
On behalf of SUEPO Central and all local SUEPO sections

Annex: Draft agenda

Copy:Heads of Delegation of the Administrative Council
President of the EPO
Council Secretariat


ANNEX

Draft agenda

1. Reintegration of dismissed staff and SUEPO representatives, and cancellation of other sanctions against further staff and SUEPO representatives.2

2. Aims of a negotiation scheme

3. Benchmarking some existing agreements, viz. EU-Agreement with its Unions, the SUEPO proposal, and the existing EPO-FFPE MoU.

4. MoU establishing a framework for negotiation between social partners i.e. the EPO and trade unions

5. Time framework for a global solution for normalising relations between EPO and SUEPO

_____
2 The implementation of the Resolution is here all the more urgent since, in the meantime, it has transpired that the disciplinary measures against SUEPO officials in 2015 and 2016 (in particular Els Hardon, Ion Brumme, Malika Weaver, Laurent Prunier) have been imposed after consultation of a disciplinary committee that was improperly composed: the Chairperson was appointed without the consultation of the GCC required by Article 98(1) ServRegs. A progress on this issue would allow discussing the other points on the agenda.

That second footnote is important. The EPO’s President not only routinely and nonchalantly violates the rules of the EPC (akin to gross constitutional violations), but also violates his very own Code of Conduct. It’s probably far too optimistic to believe that Battistelli is capable of grasping the mere concept of negotiation partners. He exploits power for power’s sake; he’s a hardliner with LE PENthouse de patent maximalism.

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