02.20.21

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EPO Crisis Under António Campinos – Part 4: Timeline of the Le Guern Controversy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:56 am by Guest Editorial Team

Previously in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III

SUEPO smeared

António Campinos announces an “embargo” on meetings with SUEPO (the EPO‘s union)

Summary: Last week’s events culminated in defence by Campinos of Team Battistelli, notably Madame Bergot, by shaming the staff’s union with vague details, obscured sufficiently to make it seem as if the union did something wrong (it was actually Bergot et al who had done something wrong)

We continue our report on the controversy triggered by the sudden and mysterious “disappearance” of the EPO’s “Compensations and Benefits” expert Le Guern with a review of the associated timeline of events.

The saga commenced with the publication of a communiqué on 4 February from the EPO staff union SUEPO to its members which reported on Le Guern's sudden and unexplained absence from official duties since 6 November 2020.

“On 14 February the Chairman of SUEPO Central responded to Campinos by expressing surprise at the tone of his letter and the assertion that red lines had been crossed.”On 10 February EPO President Campinos fired off an angry letter to SUEPO in which he complained that the communiqué of 4 February had “crossed red lines” by allegedly questioning “the ethics and integrity of one of our colleagues”.

According to Campinos SUEPO had implied “by insinuation” that the EPO management was responsible for “the colleague’s situation”.

Campinos called this “an attack on the reputation of the entire organisation, its professionalism and its values”.

On 14 February the Chairman of SUEPO Central responded to Campinos by expressing surprise at the tone of his letter and the assertion that red lines had been crossed.

SUEPO was unable to find any passage in its communiqué which could be considered factually incorrect or which would go beyond the acceptable limits of freedom of speech and the freedom of association.

MoU signed by BergotIn order to clarify the situation, SUEPO asked Campinos to indicate the particular passages in its Communiqué which had given rise to his concerns.

SUEPO concluded by noting that it was ready for an open dialogue on this issue as soon as possible and at the latest in the meeting with EPO management scheduled for 24 February.

In the meantime the chairman of the elected Central Staff Committee had written to Campinos on 12 February to express concern about a disruption of “social dialogue” caused by the EPO management’s “serial cancellations of meetings”. The Central Staff Committee wanted to inquire about “the real reasons for these serial cancellations” and noted that it was “still very interested in social dialogue and in rescheduling the meetings as soon as possible”.

On 16 February Campinos responded by using the EPO Intranet to publicise the dispute.

He published a message cryptically entitled “Supporting our colleagues” together with details of the exchanges which had taken place between his office and EPO staff representatives.

The published correspondence included copies of letters dated 16 February and addressed both to SUEPO and to the elected Central Staff Committee.

In the letter of 16 February addressed to SUEPO Campinos repeated his call for a retraction of the communiqué of 4 February and an unconditional apology because SUEPO had allegedly “crossed a number of red lines in attacking the professionalism and reputation of our mutual colleagues and also the reputation of the Office”.

Elodie Bergot's faceHe deplored the fact “that there has been no visible or meaningful attempt to retract the statement, or apologise to the colleagues concerned”.

Campinos concluded by noting he had decreed “a period of three months from 16 February during which all social dialogue with SUEPO will be carried out by written exchange only”.

“The Office will therefore not be fielding representatives to meet with SUEPO either in person or online during this period. At the end of the three months the decision will be reviewed.”

In the parallel letter of the same date addressed to the elected CSC, Campinos repeated his criticisms of SUEPO.

He notified the CSC of the “embargo” imposed on face-to-face meetings between SUEPO EPO management and concluded with the following pious platitude:

“Despite the recent choice made by SUEPO to breach our values, and to attack colleagues – whether overtly or by insinuation – it is our genuine hope that the dialogue with the CSC, and indeed all Staff Representatives, will remain increasingly constructive.”

In the next and final part of this EPOLeaks report we will consider the potential fallout from this ongoing controversy.

Elodie Bergot's slide

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