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EPO’s “Towards a New Normal” Hogwash Just Another Attempt to Make Unlawful and Unconstitutional Policies Seem OK and ‘Normalised’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A spring thing
2 years after COVID-19 began to spread (Wuhan, China) the ‘cancer’ inside the EPO (“cancer” is what EPO staff compares the management to) is still killing the institution and a decrease is patent applications in already observed

Summary: Documents from the EPO serve to show the nature of the regime’s agenda; it does not concern itself with the Rule of Law and it still — in the latter half of 2021 — tries to leverage an epidemic from 2019 to make crimes the “new normal”

DAYS ago we explained that the so-called 'new normal' of António Campinos was at risk (there’s some early coverage). Are EPO judges getting cold feet about approving the unlawful? In spite of the cold feet associated with defying presidential orders in a regime of terror (Benoît Battistelli already attacked judges in many different ways)?

“As a side note, it seems worthy of a mention that the Administrative Council brushed aside EPO/Microsoft privacy violations…”Regardless, a couple of weeks ago a letter was sent by the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO. “The orientation document “Towards a new normal” (CA/38/21),” they explained, “has been submitted to the Administrative Council. The administration has informed us that a first meeting of the Working Group on teleworking would take place before the summer break. In preparation of this meeting, we have requested:

  • The mandate of the Working Group;

  • The content and outcome of stakeholder consultation and focus groups;

  • The overview of the savings made by the Office under the “emergency” teleworking guidelines.”

As a side note, it seems worthy of a mention that the Administrative Council brushed aside EPO/Microsoft privacy violations, as instead of tackling the abuse it just issued this laughable puff piece (warning: epo.org link) — yet another one of those self-serving white-washing press releases.

“We are looking forward to constructive and fruitful exchanges on the topic of teleworking”, the CSC continued, listing the four annexes of the letter, which have hyperlinks associated with them:

For the purpose of institutional transparency (the public deserves and needs to know) we’re reproducing this letter in full below:

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO
ISAR – R.1080

Reference: sc21082cl – 0.3.1/4.4
Date: 22.06.2021

Working Group on teleworking: Preparation of the first meeting

Dear Mr President,

Following the invitation of 20 May, the Central Staff Committee (CSC) has now proceeded on 10 June with the requested nomination of participants to a Working Group on teleworking.

The invitation also mentioned that a first meeting would take place before the summer break. In preparation of this meeting, we kindly request the following:

1. Mandate of the Working Group

The topic of teleworking may embrace many aspects. In order to structure the discussions and as a matter of efficiency, we kindly request to be informed of the mandate given to your nominees in this Working Group. For instance:
- Should we understand that a teleworking policy for the mid-term only (CA/38/21, page 17) will be open for discussion?
- Will we define together clear rules for opt-in and opt-out fully explaining the consequences for staff?
- Will the aspect of maintaining a sense of belonging in a hybrid environment be part of the mandate?
- Will we address the special challenge on health and safety of staff (both mental and physical) when staff are teleworking (CA/38/21, page 16)?

2. Content and outcome of consultation and focus groups

The document “Towards a New Normal” (CA/38/21, page 13) mentions that at the close of the consultation on 16 April “[i]nternal staff and Boards of Appeal members submitted a total of 195 responses representing 887 people [...] There were also 29 external responses: 15 from European Patent Organisation

member states; 4 from user associations; and 11 from individuals.” Furthermore, several focus group meetings took place on the topic of teleworking.

For the sake of transparency and in order to avoid duplication of work, we kindly request to be provided with:

-more detailed information (in particular anonymized raw data) about the content and outcome of the consultation than is present in Annex 3 of CA/38/21 and the PPT presentation published in Communiqué of 15 June 2021, and
-detailed information about the focus groups which took place.

3. Overview of the savings made by the Office under the “emergency” teleworking guidelines

The “emergency” teleworking guidelines put in place on March 2020 in view of the pandemic together with a building occupancy rate capped at 15% significantly increased the number of staff members working from home compared to the Part-Time Home Working scheme. This led to significant savings made by the Office.

Indeed, the budget implementation statement for the 2020 accounting period (CA/10/21) show that the expenses for “travel, stationery, office supplies, mail services, security, transport, insurance and costs for external experts and studies” (page 19, 26 and 41/80) were “€28.3m below budget”.

Further savings were made on cleaning, repairs and maintenance (page 17/80), “staff welfare [...] recorded an underspend of €3.4m (58.4%) owing to a significant reduction in canteen subsidies paid in the year due to the sharp increase in home working” (page 37/80) and “operating expenditure for furniture and equipment was €1m (38.9%) below budget, mainly due to lower costs for rental printing infrastructure due to a fall in use as staff worked from home” (page 37/80).

We kindly request that full transparency is made on the savings made by the Office thanks to the “emergency” teleworking guidelines.

Please find also attached herewith annexed documents to help the discussion:

Annex D1 « Telework in the EU before and after the Covid-19 », Joint Research Centre, European Commission (page 4, figure 4, “Prevalence of telework across EU Member States”)

Annex D2 « The costs and benefits of working from home », PricewaterhouseCoopers , (pages 4-6, “Impact on employers: direct costs benefits [...] 1.681,4 M€ per year in the Netherlands for companies”)

Annex D3 « The impact of teleworking and digital work on workers and society

», European Parliament, EMPL Committee ordered study (pages 59 to 65, figure 22, “cost reductions due to telework”)

Annex D4 « The business case for remote work », Global Workplace Analytics, (pages 6 to 23, “2-3 days telework reduces the costs by $11.000/employee/year for an average US employer”)

We are looking forward to constructive and fruitful exchanges on the topic of teleworking.

Sincerely yours,

The CSC nominees to the Working Group on teleworking

I personally disagree with terms like “remote work” or “teleworking” in their conventional use; in reality, when people leave their homes they become “remote” and “tele” implies distance (i.e. from one’s residence). In practice, the very opposite happens, but the loaded terms seek to normalise the status quo where people sit inside open office cubicles, in glass and metal cages (buildings) where they’re constantly monitored and need to commute back and forth just to use a computer. And maybe receive bollocking from overambitious bosses who don’t even understand the job (or cannot do it themselves).

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