06.26.17

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EPO Strikes in All Four EPO Sites for Two Days This Month and Next Month, Under the “Respect Staff” Banner

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And just before the big meeting, based on German/Austrian media today, there are also protests against the EPO (translations would be appreciated)

Summary: The impact of the strikes at EPO doubles, as two strikes in two months are scheduled, starting this week

AN EPO general strike has been in the making for a while. As far as we know, we are the only publication that covered any of it at any stage (from proposal to confirmation).

Messages are now being circulated among staff, heralding the initiation of the process as follows.

The Staff Committee, which maintained its integrity despite sabotage attempts by Battistelli, said this:

Strike days on Friday 30 June & Monday 3 July – Notification of strike – RESPECT STAFF

Dear Colleagues,

The Central Staff Committee (CSC) and the Local Staff Committees (LSC) of all sites submitted a Call for strike – “RESPECT STAFF” to the President on 22 May 2017. The letter including the reasons for strike can be found under the “Call for strike” on the CSC Intranet page.
 
Before having to proceed to a strike ballot within one month the President invited the SR to meet with the Office’s representatives in order to discuss the claims expressed in the Call for strike – “RESPECT STAFF”. At the meeting with management on 8 June no concrete progress or results on staff claims could be achieved but management’s declared its view of the situation at the EPO (see report). Staff clearly refuted management’s view with the strike ballot.

Despite of the poorly advertised vote on the call for strike “Respect Staff” (compared to the efforts by administration to make the Staff Committee elections a success), the necessary quorum of 40% imposed by the President has been reached. A huge majority of voters (above 89%) have expressed their support to the strike. Consequently the CSC and the LSCs have sent in the evening of the ballot a notification of strike to the President.
 
Two strike days are planned on:

· Friday 30 June 2017
· Monday 3 July 2017

We hope that the administration will soon activate the online strike registration tool. Should it not be the case, you can already inform your superior of your intention to strike.

Additionally, an Open Letter was sent to Benoît Battistelli, with copies sent to the Administrative Council of the EPO (just days before their gathering at The Hague) to say this:

Notification of a strike “Respect Staff”

Dear Mr President,

Ms Bergot announced in her publication to staff dated 22 June 2017 the result of the strike ballot organised by the Office: Staff has voted in favour of a strike. Following this decision to start a strike, we inform you of the following.

Grounds for having to resort to the strike

The call for strike entitled “Respect Staff” that you received on 22 May 2017 listed the most prominent and urgent reasons for discontent:

• Lack of respect for the Rule of law and fundamental rights of staff;

• Disastrous consequences of the reforms and new practices for:
◦ the health of staff,
◦ the quality of the service rendered by the EPO to Europe,
◦ the reputation of the Office.

• Staff representation resources and prerogatives are reduced even further as of 1.7.2017, to a level that makes the effective representation of staff interests impossible.

• The President’s persistence in wanting to increase his arbitrary powers, which is an affront not only to Staff but also to the Council and its legislative intent as expressed in CA/26/16 and CA/32/17.


Following your strike procedure you encouraged all parties to engage in a dialogue on the topics at stake and you invited for a meeting to discuss with the Office’s representatives (VP1, VP2, VP4, VP5 and PD Human Resources) the claims expressed in the call for strike. As regards the reasons for strike, management made the following points:

• The President of the Office and the Administration were in the past and still are dedicated to social dialogue.

• The staff representation (and SUEPO) have shown a lack of respect and have hindered social dialogue. The staff representation is not representing staff.

• The rule of law and fundamental rights are respected in the Office, as everyone knows.

• The reforms and the new practices are well-accepted by staff and they have made the success of the Office in the recent years, materialising in increased production and quality.

We reminded them of the harm caused by the reforms (new career system, new health and invalidity policies, the upcoming DG1/DG2 re-organisation…) and of the continued undermining of our legal system (e.g. with the upcoming reform of the disciplinary and appeals systems). On those and on others matters, such as the further reduced resources of the staff representation, we did not see any concrete sign of progress. In view of the tense atmosphere the Staff Representatives suggested that a mediator was more than ever necessary to engage into meaningful and constructive talks. Also on this matter, no tangible progress was made.

Calendar and EPO sites concerned

The Strike “Respect Staff” shall take place on 30 June and 3 July 2017 at all sites of employment: Munich, The Hague, Berlin, Vienna.

Please be assured that the Staff Representation has always been prepared to enter a fair social dialogue and continues to be so. If social dialogue in the time before the strike day leads to a substantial progress


on the grounds for strike, we are willing to recommend to Staff to terminate the strike action.

Yours sincerely,

The Staff Representation

For the Central Staff Committee

So the strikes are getting longer and broader, in spite of Battistelli’s blatant attempts to suppress and repress. The harder he pushes, the worse things get. What next? A week-long strike? Frankly, Benoît Battistelli should be immediately sacked by the Administrative Council this week, not given another year to further degrade conditions at the Office (driving away applicants, experienced staff and so on).

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A Single Comment

  1. john said,

    June 27, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Gravatar

    The administrative council should have fired Battistelli long ago when he offered them “free dental care”. At the time, there was a scandal in France because in a book written by Valerie Trierweiler, the then President Hollande was accused of mocking the poor by calling them “sans dents”. Basically, by offering the Council free dental care, Battistelli was insulting them and EVERY French citizen in Munich understood that, because of the scandal in the French press at the time. He was telling them: you are the lowest scum, you are the poor of the poor, you can only eat from my open hand. If you remember the times, the attitude of the French delegation changed right after the offer, they were the only ones who would understand the insult and mockery.

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