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EPO Crisis Under António Campinos – Part 5: Quo Usque Tandem?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:48 am by Guest Editorial Team

Previously in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | More background: Latest French Hire of Battistelli Rumoured to be After EPO Workers’ Pensions | Le Guern Leaves the EPO After Attacks on Staff’s (and Pensioners’) Finances Amid Pandemic

AC patience

Summary: “For how much longer, António, will you abuse our patience?”

With his message of 16 February on the Office intranet the EPO President António Campinos did his best to convey the impression that his most immediate and pressing concern was for the welfare of Mr Le Guern and that his sole desire was to protect the latter from “attacks” by SUEPO.

However, nobody at the EPO is fooled by this patently transparent humbug.

EPO insiders have no doubt that Campinos’ actions were primarily aimed at providing “aid and comfort” to the controversial and hugely unpopular HR Principal Director, Elodie Bergot.

“However, nobody at the EPO is fooled by this patently transparent humbug.”Techrights readers need no reminding that – together with her hubby Gilles Requena – Bergot was one of the key enablers of “Team Battistelli”.

After Battistelli‘s departure Bergot was retained by Campinos as an apparent act of loyalty to his former mentor and “patron”, the controversial deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

In two Judgments delivered in June 2018 the ILOAT found Bergot guilty of masterminding a witch-hunt conducted against SUEPO officials, one of whom was unlawfully dismissed from his position and the other who was unlawfully downgraded.

In August 2020 Bergot received another official rebuke – this time from the EPO Internal Appeals Committee – for unlawful acts of censorship against the elected Central Staff Committee in 2016.

On that occasion the EPO Internal Appeals Committee, chaired by former UK Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Paul Mahoney, confirmed that staff representatives are at liberty to criticise the EPO’s policies and actions – even sharply and robustly – as long as the language used is not injurious or defamatory.

“In August 2020 Bergot received another official rebuke – this time from the EPO Internal Appeals Committee – for unlawful acts of censorship against the elected Central Staff Committee in 2016.”According to Sir Paul and his Committee, this is a perfectly legitimate manifestation of “the political jousting between management and staff bodies that is part and parcel of the life of a healthy International Organisation”.

The Appeals Committee emphasised that it is essential for staff members to have knowledge of the various positions discussed between EPO management and the Staff Committee on matters of general interest for staff. This ensures that EPO management can be exposed to a degree of accountability to staff in relation to policy decisions affecting them.

It’s as plain as the proverbial pikestaff that there are no plausible grounds to justify censorship of the SUEPO communiqué of 4 February 2021.

SUEPO was doing nothing more than informing its members of matters which are of general interest to them, namely the administration of “Compensation and Benefits” at the EPO and the current HR shenanigans in that department.

Apart from that, Campinos – a PR savvy individual who promotes himself as a “child of the Carnation Revolution” – seems to be keen on avoiding the negative publicity which would be likely to result from an association with the kind of strong-arm totalitarian techniques which were Battistelli’s hallmark.

“With his message of 16 February Campinos has nailed his colours firmly to the mast and has made it clear whose side he is on.”So under the given circumstances the only option open to Bergot and Campinos is to resort to their current “Punch & Judy Show” tactics. These consist of falsely accusing SUEPO of “attacking the professionalism and reputation of our mutual colleagues and also the reputation of the Office” and demanding an unconditional retraction and apology.

With his message of 16 February Campinos has nailed his colours firmly to the mast and has made it clear whose side he is on.

But it remains unclear what exactly he hopes to accomplish by rallying to the defence of Bergot whose fitness for the senior managerial position which she holds is likely to remain in question no matter how strongly and vigorously he protests to the contrary.

All that Campinos appears to have achieved here is to cement his reputation inside the EPO as a pusillanimous and ineffectual chief executive – who is incidentally rumoured to suffer from serious substance abuse issues.

Rather than attempting to tackle the problems facing the EPO and to promote genuine and meaningful “social dialogue” between management and staff Campinos has revealed himself to be living in the shadow of his former mentor and “patron”, Battistelli. He seems to be utterly incapable of shaking off the insidious legacy of cronyism and favouritism which he had inherited from that quarter.

“All that Campinos appears to have achieved here is to cement his reputation inside the EPO as a pusillanimous and ineffectual chief executive – who is incidentally rumoured to suffer from serious substance abuse issues.”Only time will tell whether or not Campinos will end up regretting his decision to back what is obviously the wrong horse in the present dispute.

But for the moment one thing is clear: the current controversy has once again demonstrated the precarious and perilous state of “social dialogue” at the EPO.

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