11.15.20

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Inside the EPO During Corona: COVID-in-the-Head António Campinos Acts Like a Maniac and Starts Shouting at Meetings (Refusing to Listen to Anybody or Accept Reality)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jorge Campinos and António CampinosBad boy, António. Very bad boy.

Summary: Jorge Campinos fought what he called dictatorship — the very thing that his son António is nowadays doing in Europe’s second-largest institution (run like a monarchy uncaring about the law and the safety of its ‘peasants’)

THE EPO‘s Staff Representation (SR) quickly found out that António Campinos is just another Benoît Battistelli (including temper tantrums and shouting, read the details below), parroting a bunch of meaningless junk like “social dialogue” or “democracy” while stubbornly persisting with monologues, autocracy, and endless lies. The lying is rather shameless; it’s not accidental dishonesty but malicious propaganda intended to oppress staff, mislead the media, pacify politicians and give patent stakeholders a really bad service.

Half a year ago when people were ‘locked up’ in their homes the Staff Representatives (SRs) wrote: “The President claims himself to be the main interlocutor in social dialogue. Two hours once every few month is simply not enough. Items on the agenda were cut short and mainly used to present the position of Management.”

Here’s the statement in full.

Social dialogue is not we agree to disagree leading to no real agreements

Mr Campinos had invited us to a two-hour meeting by video conference. Meetings with the President are always a little tense, as there is no equality of arms in the social dialogue.

The President claims himself to be the main interlocutor in social dialogue. Two hours once every few month is simply not enough. Items on the agenda were cut short and mainly used to present the position of Management. As you might imagine no real tangible results or compromises e.g. on the new Salary Adjustment Procedure can be reported.

Items on the agenda:
1. Social agenda
2. Covid-19: “Take care of your health” vs “Take care of your production”
3. Financial bundle and salary adjustment method
4. Rewards and catching up mechanism
5. Staff Committee elections and ApC situation

Here’s the corresponding report from that ‘meeting’ (basically webchat on Microsoft’s (US) network, as data protection laws are disregarded with impunity):

Munich, 29.04.2020
sc20075cp – 02.1/4.2.2/4.3

Report on the meeting of the Central Staff Committee (CSC) with the President on 23 April 2020

Setting the scene

Mr Campinos had invited the CSC and the LSC chairs to a two-hour meeting by video conference. We all have experience with Skype meetings by now. For reducing the bandwidth used, most cameras were switched off, thereby cutting out body language and making the exchange already cumbersome by design. Meetings with the President are always a little tense, as there is no equality of arms in the social dialogue. This time the atmosphere was very charged, which we attributed to the pandemic working on everybody’s nerves by now.

1. Social agenda

The CSC reminded Mr Campinos of the call for strike of 8 November 2019 which sent the clear signal that staff expects a change in policies. Two years into his mandate and after numerous reminders and pleas, Mr Campinos still refuses to address the three remaining cases of abusive and politically motivated sanctions of staff representatives and Union officials by his predecessor. Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund were nominated by the CSC into the quasi-judicial body of the Appeals Committee. The President uses res judicata as reason for not acting in these two cases, whilst on other issues such as the education allowance he does exercise discretion and deviates from judgments.

There has been little dialogue on the respective – or hopefully even mutual – priorities in the social agenda. Our request for putting staff health at the top of the priorities list has not been honoured. The career system is still not repaired, the production pressure is maintained and continues to lower quality. The working conditions of staff employed after 2009 still need to be improved whilst a further deterioration of the working conditions (salary adjustment method and education allowance) is being pursued despite the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

In meetings Mr Campinos can be emotional. This meeting was no exception, only that he overdid it by interrupting our interventions, shouting and complaining that we only express dissatisfaction and never acknowledge his positive steps. With the continuation of the meeting at risk under those conditions, we requested a timeout. Thereafter the meeting continued.

2. Covid-19: “Take care of your health” vs “Take care of your production”

The CSC once again requested that Mr Campinos stops denying the impact of Covid-19 on the operation of the EPO, its production and services. Staff should neither be held responsible nor asked to compensate for these unavoidable effects. To that end, we asked for

i) adjusting the production target downwards by at least 10% from what was originally
planned,
ii) 40 hours of time deduction for parents of young children,
iii) a reduction in individual targets in production and productivity,
iv) special leave for families (as parental leave is meant to cover school holidays, not force majeure long-term school closures and certainly not to compensate for pandemic-induced production loss), and
v) an unconditional carry-over of leave of 2020 to next year.

For Mr Campinos adapting objectives was out of the question and he claimed to have already reduced production over the past two years. We countered that productivity requirements and therefore the pressure on staff had increased as recruitment failed to compensate for staff departures. Mr Rowan (VP1) attempted to assure us that each individual situation would be taken into account when assessing performance and that health should be a priority. In his view, Line Managers should not exert pressure on staff and, if observed, it should be reported directly to him. Ms Simon (VP4) expressed her disappointment that the possibility to now take parental leave also on a daily basis was
not considered sufficient.

Mr Campinos promised to study our other proposals.

Ms De Greiff (H&S) posited that in its dealing with the pandemic, the EPOrg was perceived as a model amongst International Organisations. We requested that this benchmark be provided to us. When benchmarking it is worthy of note that the EPO still has the worst competition based career system, fostering harsh behaviour in line management which in turn detrimentally affects staff health. Team Managers were seen pushing parents to work during evenings and weekend, and the extra day-off of 22 May might well be used by those to compensate for production losses. For parents and staff members in the high risk group, we requested specific operational measures, including the possibility for other staff, who do not need that day, to transfer it to those who need it most. We also pointed out the inconsistencies in the communication of management pretending unity with the campaign “Strong Together” (on Covid-19) while at the same time letting Directorate Employment Law in the Intranet celebrate its success against staff in front of ILOAT.

Ms Seegert stopped our intervention there, claiming that it would not lead anywhere. We therefore could not address how the special situation of Covid-19 could be taken into account in incompetence procedures and probation periods.

3. Financial bundle and salary adjustment method

For the June meeting of the Administrative Council Mr Campinos still intends to table a bundle of financial measures based on the flawed Financial Study from Oliver Wyman & Mercer. We explained our expectation that the administration would abandon or at least postpone the introduction of further reforms that will have a negative impact on staff working conditions during a pandemic. The current proposal foresees a severe cut in purchasing power for staff and pensioners. His previous promises no longer hold true.

Implementation was to be gradual (with not everything needing to be done at once), reversibility is not foreseen and all his talk on proportionality, fairness or shared effort fell by the wayside with the biggest burden being placed on staff. His latest financial measure of moving the date of the application of any salary adjustment half a year back without any pensionable compensation but only a lump-sum all goes on the staff’s account, too.

On this topic Mr Campinos again lost his contenance when he shouted that in the outside world people are currently losing their jobs and we should feel lucky if the Administrative Council accepted the proposed changes as they stand.

But reducing production pressure in challenging pandemic-times is nothing he will consider. The desire to save money obviously always has to be satisfied at the expense of staff and it will never be enough.

4. Rewards and catching up mechanism

Given the lack of progress on the former items, our expectations were low on that one and we were not disappointed.

Yes, Mr Campinos intends to slightly increase the budget for rewards thereby slightly raising the chances in the annual reward-lottery.

But it remains a fundamentally flawed career system, aggravated by flawed implementation each year and the fact that it relies on arbitrariness. It requires a radical new design, aligned with EU staff regulation, which provide for regular step advancements.

We reiterated the claim for transitional measures from the previous to the NCS (step advancement in grade were guaranteed) as well as retroactive correction backdated to the introduction of the NCS.

The administration intends to resurrect the Working Group on Performance Management (WGPM) as the appropriate panel for discussing such mechanisms. And a meeting was announced for May in which the issue of PhD-recognition for calculation of experience upon recruitment will apparently be discussed.

5. Staff Committee elections and ApC situation

The night before the meeting management had sent two letters on these topics, indicating some scope for discussion, but at the end of the meeting there was little time to raise these. After a first cursory read we appreciate management’s readiness to discuss the possibility of appointing also non-elected members to the Appeals Committee (ApC), which is a long-standing claim of ours.

Your Staff Representation

Of note: “Mr Campinos [was] shouting and complaining [...] lost his contenance when he shouted…”

“…it’s not accidental dishonesty but malicious propaganda intended to oppress staff, mislead the media, pacify politicians and give patent stakeholders a really bad service.”Yeah, and the Council kept reassuring us that this man was unlike Battistelli. This isn’t the first time he’s reported to have temper issues. The EPO is run by psychopaths who are compensated far too much (for their skill level; MBA is similarly overrated) to front for oligarchs and multinational corporations while they bully people a lot smarter, more competent and experienced than themselves.

Someone should remind Mr. Campinos that examiners aren’t just ordinary people from the streets trained at stocking shelves (not that there’s anything wrong with such jobs); maybe he lies to himself about being ‘charitable’ for employing people with Ph.D.-level education (often experts in their scientific field). They can speak about more than meaningless buzzwords like “Hey Hi” (AI) and “innovation”…

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