01.28.21

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EPO Staff Likely Going on Strike For a Second Year in a Row

Posted in Action, Europe, Patents at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: “This 1-day strike is merely the beginning of an ongoing process,” says SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO

THE union of EPO staff points out that last month’s strike, which included about half the staff in Vienna, “is the highest result of an industrial action since 2016 when EPO staff went on strike in support of the sanctioned staff representatives.”

“It seems rather apparent that more actions are on the way, probably including strikes.”The union points out that António Campinos is merely a continuation of the Benoît Battistelli regime and staff hasn’t been gullible enough to believe otherwise.

We reproduce below the contents of a letter circulated some hours ago among union members:

INTERNATIONALE GEWERKSCHAFT IM EUROPÄISCHEN PATENTAMT
STAFF UNION OF THE EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
UNION SYNDICALE DE L’OFFICE EUROPEEN DES BREVETS

Zentraler Vorstand | Central Executive Committee | Bureau central

28/01/2021
su21001cp – 0.2.1-0.3.2

Strike action of 15 December 2020

An undeniable signal of social unrest

Dear SUEPO Members,
Dear Colleagues,

On 15 December 2020, EPO staff went on a 1-day warning strike during the December meeting of the Administrative Council. Overall, 1448 colleagues representing 22,6% of all staff participated in the strike in a full or half day of strike1.

It is the highest result of an industrial action since 2016 when EPO staff went on strike2 in support of the sanctioned staff representatives: Elizabeth Hardon, Ion Brumme, Laurent Prunier, Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund. Up to now, the disciplinary cases of the latter two remain unsolved.

The participation was a success despite the difficulties in organizing such an action: the late communication of the results of the salary adjustment procedure only allowed a reaction on extremely short notice, the Covid-19 pandemic imposes everyone to be isolated at home, and General Assemblies and floor meetings within the Office premises are not allowed.

This strike action revealed that authoritarian methods dating from the Battistelli times are still prevailing in the EPO of Mr Campinos: the strike registration tool was made unavailable to Team Managers and above, and those who intended to participate were summoned to an “explanation” meeting with their Principal Director.

Despite the ever increasing number of managers, the increasing number of colleagues on parental leave or other leave because of the pandemic, the strike was well followed.

The reactions show that EPO staff sent an undeniable signal of social unrest to the President, senior management and the Council delegations. Indeed, on the day of the Administrative Council meeting, the EPO administration was quite reluctant to communicate on the strike with the delegations. It was only after quite some prompting that the results were given to the Administrative Council – so much for the President’s “Social Dialogue” KPI. In the meeting, Ms Simon (VP4) “thank[ed] those who nevertheless produced on that day and kept the production figures around the usual levels”. Such cynicism strongly reminded us of the Battistelli times and is difficult to reconcile with Mr Campinos claim for social dialogue.

This 1-day strike is merely the beginning of an ongoing process. It was the first necessary condition to bring our administration to their senses. The coming meetings will reveal whether the Administration will continue to trump their alternative reality.

Keep yourselves informed – read up on the publications of Staff Representation and SUEPO, participate in the ongoing CSC Petition, in upcoming (online) floor meetings, workshops, in the Staff Rep public MS Teams fora, and get in touch.

Together we are strong for future actions, including massively filing Requests for Review’s and ensuing appeals.

Your SUEPO Central

1 ”Strike action on 15 December” anonymous Intranet announcement of 16 December 2020
2 “Euro patent office strike” The Register article (7 April 2016)

The video at the top discusses further details and some background information. It seems rather apparent that more actions are on the way, probably including strikes.

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