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Inside the EPO During Corona: “We All Should be Creative and Open” Was the Excuse to Break the Rules and Violate Laws/Constitutions at the EPO (European Patent Office)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:26 pm by Guest Editorial Team

António Campinos and Merkel

Summary: Looking back at Office documents, we’re seeing the sociopaths at work, crushing Office staff while refusing to even show basic common courtesy to staff that retires after more than 35 years of service

“Consultation on the social democracy framework provides poor results,” the Central Staff Committee of the EPO noted, citing the talk with the Benoît Battistelli-appointed António Campinos (another case of nepotism). The Central Staff Committee outlined the situation as follows:

Munich, 26.03.2020
sc20052cp – 0.2.1/6.2.1

Report on the meeting of the General Consultative Committee (GCC) of 2 March 2020

The only official item on the agenda was GCC/DOC 01/2020 (CA/17/20) titled “Amendments to the Articles of the ServRegs related to the statutory staff representation”. The proposal is the “result” of a 16-month consultation with the same management representatives of the previous administration who had put the social democracy framework in place.

Other topics were discussed including the first preventive measures against the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and the capping of the future salary adjustments.

GCC/DOC 01/2020 – Amendment to the Articles of the ServRegs related to the statutory staff representation (for consultation)

On 13 February 2020 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) had submitted a proposal that had been further amended to comprise the absolute minimum we deem necessary as a compromise to start a proper review of the social democracy framework. In a letter of 25 February 2020, the CSC pressingly reiterated its long-standing request to be able to nominate experts to the Appeals Committee (ApC) instead of being restricted to the pool of elected staff representatives. The chairpersons of the ApC, too, generally accept that elected nominees have an inherent conflict of interest because of their political mandate. The proposed amendment would have provided a fast and easy measure for enhancing staff’s acceptance of the ApC and addressed the concerns of the chairs.

In the meeting, the CSC members of the GCC insisted that the matter needed to be clarified before the call for candidates for the next SR elections, i.e. before May 2020. Colleagues considering to stand for election should know if they might be nominated to the ApC to consider their affinity and competency for that role. The CSC members of the GCC explained that they would vote in favour of the document if this requested amendment was introduced.

Mr Campinos rejected this request and argued that this change would require further consultation requiring legal checks, re-assessment of time resources for the staff representation and possibly some limitation (e.g. no repetitive appellants). This, according to him, would be possible at the earliest for the June Administration Council (AC) meeting. In view of the activities of a Working Group that saw its activities stalled for more than 10 months by a reticent and obstructive management we find these arguments to be disingenuous.

On some minor aspects, the President considered our requests and amended the document accordingly.

Since the introduction of the social democracy framework, the GCC members shall express their opinion by voting at the meeting (by show of hands) for or against a proposal or abstaining. It no longer foresees the submitting of opinions after careful consideration, allowing for qualifying a negative vote and appreciating positive elements. Such opinions – possibly by both sides of the table – could subsequently complement/complete the minutes. The CSC members of the GCC unanimously voted against the document and noted again the lack of flexibility of the social democracy framework forcing us into this kind of “all-or- nothing” situation.

As the functioning of the ApC is of utmost importance for the smooth running of the Office, the CSC remains open to continue the discussions with management representatives on this issue.

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

Mr Campinos issued a series of Communiqués and mass-emails concerning preventive measures against the spread of the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The GCC meeting was the first, and so far only, meeting the staff representation had with Mr Campinos on this topic. Many staff members were concerned with the introduction of mandatory home-working, which is not foreseen in the Service Regulations. During the meeting, Mr Campinos said that “we all should be creative and open”.

He explained that the various departments and DGs were already working on the topic. Staff representatives would receive some information, but would not be involved. He mentioned some sort of “new agreement” between line managers and individual staff members for the period of mandatory homework. VP 1 added that if examiners could not take home their search files, they could work on examination files and classification.

Already at that time, we addressed the situation of colleagues who would be forced to stay at home and to take care of their children at the same time. Mr Campinos said that each staff member should find an agreement with their line manager.

We have since seen examples of such management discretion in the form of recommending the taking of annual or parental leave if staff were not able to cope, further distressing colleagues who are already struggling to combine family and work duties in difficult times.

Review of the salary adjustment procedure

Based on the flawed Financial Study of Oliver Wyman and Mercer, Mr Campinos now intends to introduce a cap on future salary adjustments which will cause an irreversible loss of purchasing power for all active staff and pensioners. This development is all the more worrying as it adds to the long-term damages caused by the New Career System (NCS).

The CSC made several counter-proposals for a salary adjustment procedure to include a moderation clause and an exception clause adapted to the economic situation of the Base-2 scenario chosen by Mr Campinos. The consultants of Mercer, at the time of the GCC meeting, had not provided their feedback on the effect of application of this counter-proposal to their scenario. We repeated our request for this information.

Mr Campinos explained that the limitation of the global salary mass was the aim and that it was not negotiable. In his view, the proposal of the staff representation was far from closing the gap and that would be demonstrated in the coming technical meetings.

Farewell statement to retiring staff representative Alain Rosé

At the end of the meeting, Mr Campinos made a farewell statement to Mr Alain Rosé, who will retire end of March 2020 after more than 35 years of service at the EPO with an impressive track-record as a staff representative, as evidenced by the applause of all persons present– with the noticeable exception of PD4.3.

Your Central Staff Committee

PD4.3 is the cruel and merciless Elodie Bergot. Remember her reaction after a member of staff committed suicide. Office management is sadly still populated with sociopaths. They attract one another like magnets.

“Office management is sadly still populated with sociopaths.”At around the same time they also published a fourth draft proposal [PDF] regarding the salary adjustment procedure (SAP), which we mentioned here before and will mention again in the future.

In the words of the Central Staff Committee:

The Central Staff Committee submitted a fourth draft proposal for a salary adjustment procedure to the President. This proposal has an immediate effect on long-term liabilities, it strictly respects the equality of purchasing power, it does not entail legal risk as it treats all groups of staff equally, it follows economic cycles under the base 2 scenario and it preserves the essence of the current salary adjustment procedure. It is therefore fir for purpose.

Please find here our open letter to the President, to which we attached our proposal. This open letter addresses as well the fundamentally flawed mechanism proposed by the Office. The President is urged to have his and our proposal tested by expert statisticians, be they from Eurostat or the International Service for Remunerations and Pensions (ISRP), or even by the Advisory Group on Remuneration (the Wise Men).

There are prior drafts too, but this more recent one supersedes them. We don’t know how many documents are worth reproducing at this point, but we’re constantly assessing the sensitivity associated with release. The European public deserves to know what goes on inside the patent office that grants loads of illegal patents, including software patents. It got a lot worse during the pandemic, which EPO management is exploiting. The turmoil provides cover.

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