09.06.18

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‘Reformist’ Campinos Seems to be Accelerating EPO Layoffs by Removing Without Warning Staff That’s Perceived as Not Loyal Enough

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent (on the “professional incompetence” of António Campinos): ‘Efficiency’ in Action: António Campinos is Sending Jobs Abroad, Then Gagging Critics

Rule of Law and respect for staff: more of the same

Summary: The mask of Campinos is slipping only a couple of days after people return from their summer vacation (Campinos officially started his job in July, i.e. during this vacation)

THE WOLF in charge of the EPO has just howled. There’s a purge. It’s becoming rather clear that nothing really changed at the EPO except the layoffs [1, 2]. The following letter got ‘leaked’ to us by one of its recipients around lunchtime. It was sent out some time this morning and here’s what it said:

6 September 2018
su18016hp

Rule of Law and respect for staff: more of the same

Dear SUEPO Members, dear Colleagues,

We regret to inform you that on Tuesday, 4 September 2018, an examiner working in The Hague was dismissed following a procedure before the Joint Committee on Article 52 and 531.

Our colleague has been working at the EPO for more than 10 years. His daughter started at the European School of The Hague only last week. On Monday he was still working. On Tuesday he arrived at the office only to discover that his badge had been deactivated. He became aware of his immediate dismissal when he came to work and went to the reception desk to enquire about his badge problem.

We happened to bump into our colleague as he was being escorted out by two security guards in the evening after he had been given the opportunity to collect his personal items.

The (immediate) dismissal of our colleague raises many questions:

First, in our view at present any dismissal based on Article 52 ServRegs is fundamentally flawed. On 20 July 2018 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) sent a letter to the new President addressing exactly this problem. The CSC pointed out to Mr Campinos that the Office had not met its obligation to define procedures for the implementation of Art 52 ServRegs, contrary to the requirements of Article 52(1), and stated that an ad hoc procedure, defined on a case-by-case basis (if any) cannot be (seen to be) fair to the concerned colleagues.

The CSC also appealed to him to put all pending cases on ice until fair procedures are defined2. This clearly did not happen. So, was the President ill-advised when he took the decision to dismiss the colleague?

___
1 The “Joint Committee on Articles 52 and 53″ deals in particular with “professional incompetence” (Art. 52 ServRegs).


Second, the specific circumstances of this case raise additional questions.

According to the regulations in force the notice period for our dismissed colleague is 9 (nine) months. Why has management deemed necessary to give immediate effect to the dismissal?

Why did management choose dismissal instead of e.g. classification into a lower group or downgrading? Was our colleague offered another position in the organisation before considering such a drastic measure as dismissal?

Why did management wait until the very last possible moment to inform our colleague3 and made him go through the humiliating steps described above? Is the Office going to provide adequate financial compensation for the dismissal with immediate effect, including health insurance coverage, pension contributions, payment of school fees?

The President has invited The Hague staff to an inauguration party for New Main on Friday. It should be a time to celebrate. Instead, there is now a cloud of uncertainty and fear. The SUEPO Committee is scheduled4 to have a meeting with Mr Campinos on Friday afternoon – this case will definitely come to the table.

We will keep you posted of any further developments.

Your SUEPO Committee

___
2 In the absence of clear, fair and transparent procedures, the Joint Committee simply cannot do its work as it must according to the requirements of Art. 52 ServRegs.
3 According to Article 53b, paragraph (4), the President shall take a reasoned decision within two
months of the date of receipt of the Joint Committee’s opinion.
4 Since Monday 3 September, i.e. before the dismissal.

Quite an event for SUEPO to have its likely first meeting with the President (after more than two months on the job!) over…

With an attitude like this, Battistelli’s construction site, adjacent to the old building (and still with the cranes on top of it), might also see people voluntarily falling off. This is a ‘third-world’ employment and HR set of standards. Maybe this is what Bergot and Campinos can joke about (in French of course) up in his private pub in Munich.

This letter (above) was mentioned at around midday today because IPPro Patents wrote about this ugly dismissal and SUEPO then mentioned the situation by just linking to this. No further comment; no public comment…

From the IPPro Patents article, which repeats somewhat of a smear in the headline: (“controversial ‘incompetence’ provisions,” it says; “professional incompetence” is a widely misused (and insulting) term that we mentioned many times before; it’s totally meaningless and it has even been used as an excuse for dismissing staff for developing/suffering disabilities while on the job).

The European Patent Office (EPO) has dismissed another employee under new provisions in its service regulations that allow dismissals based on “professional incompetence”.

[...]

In a message to members of the SUEPO, the union explained that the employee had been working at the EPO for more than 10 years.

The message added: “His daughter started at the European School of The Hague only last week.”

“On Monday he was still working. On Tuesday he arrived at the office only to discover that his badge had been deactivated. He became aware of his immediate dismissal when he came to work and went to the reception desk to enquire about his badge problem.”

“We happened to bump into our colleague as he was being escorted out by two security guards in the evening after he had been given the opportunity to collect his personal items.”

SUEPO called article 52 “fundamentally flawed” and noted that the EPO’s Central Staff Committee (CSC) had sent a letter on 20 July to the Campinos addressing this problem.

According to SUEPO, the CSC had pointed out to Campinos that the office “had not met its obligation to define procedures for the implementation of article 52 of the service regulations, contrary to the requirements of article 52(1), and stated that an ad hoc procedure, defined on a case-by-case basis (if any) cannot be (seen to be) fair to the concerned colleagues”.

[...]

Finally, SUEPO asked why the management of the office waited until the “very last possible moment to inform our colleague” and made him go through the “humiliating steps” described in its message.

“Is the office going to provide adequate financial compensation for the dismissal with immediate effect, including health insurance coverage, pension contributions, payment of school fees?”

IPPro Patents also published (a very short while ago) this article about UPC’s failure in Poland — a subject which Team UPC doesn’t like to talk about. We wrote about a rare admission that UPC is rotting away (this morning) and now not there’s this:

Ewa Skrzydło-Tefelska, partner at Polish firm Sołtysiński Kawecki & Szlęzak, says that Poland’s IP system is compatible with all other European states bar one aspect—Poland has refused to join Europe’s Unitary Patent system.

She says that Poland declined after initially accepting the system because “participation in the Unified Patent Court (UPC) would be detrimental for Polish small- and medium-sized enterprises”.

[...]

Skrzydło-Tefelska highlights that both Polish IP specialists and authorities are of the view that the UPC “is not an accomplished legislation. Comparing it to the EU trademark, the UPC is an empty shell, because there is practically no material patent law in it.

This is correct. We don’t believe that UPC (in any form) will ever see the light of day and any illusions that Campinos will turn things around at the EPO have just been shattered by his own actions. He’s a wolf (or lobo) as insiders pointed out this week.

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