07.12.21

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EPO Dictator Campinos Continues Crushing EPO Staff, Outpacing Battistelli in Terms of His Abuses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Campinos slow response
It’s a good thing that Mr. Campinos is not being assessed for “timeliness”

Summary: Any remnants of whatever illusion there may be that Campinos pursues social dialogue with the staff is farcical at best; he’s hiring lawyers at the expense of 6 million euros to attack his own staff and he’s crushing representation like never before in the history of the Office

THE Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO isn’t being alarmist; it’s just writing to express the horrific situation at the EPO — a situation that the German government turns a blind eye to because the EPO is seen as a bottomless cash repository of Germany. Having tolerated Benoît Battistelli for 8 years, and having tolerated António Campinos for over 3 years (even covering up his crimes!), it seems to be ignoring that almost not a single member of staff can trust the so-called ‘leader’ anymore. And later they’ll wonder why the EPO cannot recruit people with the necessary skills, leaving the Office in disarray and patent quality rapidly languishing?

“And later they’ll wonder why the EPO cannot recruit people with the necessary skills, leaving the Office in disarray and patent quality rapidly languishing?”Almost every day we identify stories about failed litigation; the patents perish in courts. European Patents are becoming increasingly synonymous with Invalid Patents (some of these are software patents).

How does Campinos tackle the issue? He’s trying to silence the staff — an own goal for sure! “On 17 June 2021,” the CSC wrote, “Mr Campinos rejected [a modest proposal almost 3 months late!], considering that secretarial support was “not in line with the overall strategy or the time we are living in” (sic!). The decision is yet another attack against the functioning of the EPO staff representation (and against freedom of association).”

“How has Europe ended up this way?”Remember that Campinos had already blacklisted SUEPO, the union, before he treated the CSC similarly. We took note of several examples to that effect in recent months. There’s almost nobody left to talk to. It’s like the Office is run by drones of lobbyists (much like German politicians in the pockets of Team UPC). How has Europe ended up this way? Who’s going to put a stop to it? Is it too late?

The documents from the CSC have just been disseminated among staff; someone sent us copies and those deserve a place in the public domain, so we’re reproducing them below.

Here is the publication about what happened:

Munich, 09-07-2021
sc21088cp

Disbanding secretarial support for staff representation

On 31 May 2021, the last secretary of the staff representation retired after having worked in this position in Munich for 25 years. Early March 2021, the Chairmen of the Local Staff Committee in The Hague and Munich had filed, at the request of Mr Campinos, a “business case” for secretarial support. On 17 June 2021, Mr Campinos rejected it, considering that secretarial support was “not in line with the overall strategy or the time we are living in” (sic!) The decision is yet another attack against the functioning of the staff representation.

The end of a permanent contact point
Over the years and after each election, the composition of a staff committee evolves. In the middle of changes, the secretariat of a staff committee serves as a professional and permanent contact point ensuring continuity of service to some 7000 staff members, visitors, staff associations of other international organisations and to the EPO administration. This role was fulfilled for more than 30 years by EPO administrative employees, some of whom worked as well part-time in another departments. In order to maintain secretaries at this post, the Chair of the staff committee simply needed to fill in a “staff deblocking request”, which was automatically granted. Shortly after Mr Campinos took up his post in 2018, the future of the secretariat was discussed in the Working Group on Staff Representation Resources and we felt he was reluctant to replace retiring secretaries: it was “a red line for the President”, as his services put it.

A “business case”?
Although Mr Campinos had already made up his mind, he requested a “business case” for secretarial support. For Mr Campinos, everything needs a business case but is subject to an assessment of his own, where his personal taste may simply take precedence (e.g. the glass walls of the “Isar Daylight project”). In early March 2021, the Chairmen of the Local Staff Committee in The Hague and Munich filed the “business case”1 for secretarial support.

____________________
1 “Business case for permanent support administrative employees for the Staff Committees”, Letter from the Local Chairs of Munich and The Hague to Mr Campinos, 12 March 2021 (sc21089cp)


On 17 June 2021, Mr Campinos rejected2 it with the argument that secretarial support was considered “to be not in line with the overall strategy or the time we are living in” (sic!). The poorness of this conclusion shows that laziness of thought and oversimplification prevail when it comes to staff representation matters.

Secretary – more than a task, a profession
Secretaries (also called executive or management assistants) have multiple roles. They are documentalists (classify and archive), organisers (for meetings, training and travels) and editors. Mr Campinos seems to suggest that secretaries have no future with his New Normal, although he has recently created a professional network for them3. Even in a digital and paperless environment these tasks still need to be done. In an Office with an exploding number of cumbersome tools and time spent in online meetings, secretaries, and resilient ones at that, are needed more than ever. Ultimately, by implying that secretarial support is a task that anyone can perform on the side, Mr Campinos is denigrating staff who are actually in a profession that requires special skills acquired through studies, training and certification.

Conclusion
The decision is another attack against staff and its representation. While Mr Campinos has increased staff representation time since 2018 (but never to 2013 levels), he is now depriving staff of a permanent contact point and their representatives will have less time to directly advocate for staff interests. What Mr Campinos gives with one hand, he takes away with the other.

The Central Staff Committee

_____________
2 Letter of reply from Mr Campinos, 17 June 2021 (re21090cl)
3 See Intranet publication of 22 April 2021: “Launching the MA Professional Network at the EPO”

Here is the item cited in footnote 1:

12 March 2021

Business Case for permanent support administrative employees for the Staff Committees

Problem statement:
Without the support of a permanent administrative secretary for all staff committees:
• the elected staff representatives must dedicate time and training from their time budget to perform the administrative tasks currently under the responsibility of the administrative secretary (JG 6).
• non- availability of a single contact point, five days per week for staff and the Administration.
• non-continuity between different staff committees throughout time. Elected staff representatives come and go, their knowledge leaves with them. With dedicated administrative staff, continuity would be made possible, which would benefit the Office and staff alike.

Experience proves that having one secretary only for the four sites on a 50%-basis time exemption will not address the problem. Therefore we ask for two administrative secretaries on a 50%-basis, one located in The Hague and one in Munich.

Background: The tasks of the Administrative Employees who will dedicate the equivalent of 1 FTE to Staff Representation secretarial support are:

1. Permanent contact point: Serve as permanent contact point between the Staff Representation and both the Staff and the EPO administration. Attend colleagues and visitors. Provide information to colleagues upon request.

2. Archiving and documentation activities: Archive the correspondence/documents of all Staff Committees and keep track of past activities. Organise, classify and maintain the documentation, manage the archives, databases, website and files in paper and electronic form. Continue the introduction of an e-archive from present to past. Spot urgent emails and forward them to the competent member(s) in charge according to the importance and urgency of the request. Treat correspondence mails and letters and record them accordingly in paper and electronic form.


3. Publication and communication support: Produce, format and edit documents, letters, communications, briefs and publications for the EPO intranet (estimated amount: 150 a year). Oversee the Staff representation’s SharePoint and Microsoft Teams Channels. Handle incoming/outgoing letters and other correspondence. Perform any other tasks to support the efficient running and services between the four Local Staff Committees. Reply to telephone calls and transfer to the appropriate person(s) (for example in case of a request for assistance). Update Excel files, e.g. contact lists, staff changes on regular basis.

4. Duty travel support: Organise duty travel deputise for authorising duty travel requests for the Staff Committee members.

5. Training support: Arrange and collect input for individual and group trainings for Staff Committee members.

6. Logistic support: Book meeting rooms and organise meetings and videoconferences, including managing of invitations and preparatory documents.

7. Support project management: Maintain project plans, monitor deadlines and follow-up of action points.

It is expected that most of the work time would be dedicated to tasks 1), 2), and 3).

Objective and requirements

Within the framework of Circular 356, the Local Staff Committees The Hague and Munich are looking each for one Administrative Employee who will dedicate 50% of their working time to this duty, while continuing with their current duties for the remaining amount of their working time. They would be recruited internally from amongst staff members in Job Group 6. Permanent and employees on fixed-term contracts would be invited to apply by internal note (Category III of job mobility policy).

The job profile entails:
• a wide variety of tasks in a changing / evolving environment;
• organisational skills;
• communication and diplomatic skills.

The vacant positions would be advertised as soon as possible to ensure continuity of
service.


Alternatives

Under continuity and workload aspects there aren’t actually any viable alternatives: continuity can only be assured by staff not subject to election by staff or to the limitation of the number of consecutive mandates: elected staff representatives come and go, their knowledge leaves with them. With dedicated administrative staff who could take over the above tasks, continuity would be achieved, to the benefit of the Office and staff alike. The cost would be more than offset by the improved professionality, quality, consistency and continuity of administrative processes between the Administration and the Staff Representation.
Having a staff representative perform the above tasks is, apart from the lack of necessary skills and training, difficult to accept for an elected staff representative who joined the staff representation to be directly involved with staff matters. It would mean to be restricted to spending the available time on administrative tasks only. Representatives have to concentrate on their mandate as defined in the ServRegs and confirmed by their electorate. The time of this staff representative would be “lost” for the normal staff representative work, and would need to be redistributed to the other staff representatives.

Tasks 1) and 2), are very time consuming, and cannot be easily distributed among several staff representatives. They need to be executed by the same persons for reasons of consistency, efficiency and in order to limit possible errors to a minimum. The current situation in the local staff representation The Hague which has to cope without administrative support since mid-2017 proves the incompatibility: onlytask 1) has been rotated among several staff representatives and, despite best efforts and considerable amount of dedicated time, there have been several instances of delays and errors in the communication process. And most importantly, the time and effort dedicated to these administrative tasks, have resulted in stress-related health issues which has also negatively impacted their examiner work. Clearly an unsustainable situation, which represents a lose-lose situation for the staff representatives and the EPO.

The lack of an administrative secretary as the permanent contact person between the Staff Representation and both the Staff and the EPO administration will introduce delays and risks of issues due to legal deadlines. In addition, the archive will not be updated and maintained for future staff representatives who would not be able to find relevant documents that are needed to support staff members and to efficiently exchange with the Administration.

Action plan: as soon as possible: open a call for candidates for two positions of administrative secretaries for the Staff Committees. Based on the list of tasks and available skills of the successful candidates, determine how to distribute tasks between the two and allocate time and resources to optimise the two half posts.


Currently, there is only one administrative secretary left on a 50%-basis time exemption, who is retiring end of May. In order to organise for a smooth handover of the important tasks, the call for candidates is urgent.

Summary: The two administrative secretaries who will be responsible to support the Staff Committees would serve as the connecting line between the four local committees. In addition, the secretaries would guarantee a stable relationship with the counterparts in the EPO administration and serve as contact points for both staff and EPO administration. They would help the elected staff representatives to concentrate on their mandate as defined in the ServRegs and confirmed by their electorate. Any other alternative is detrimental to the quality of the work in representing the interests of staff. The positions of administrative secretaries offer a diversification of tasks, present a challenge and provide prospects for individual development for possible future positions.

The Local Chairs of Munich and The Hague

Michael Kemény

Jorge Raposo

Here is the item cited in footnote 2:

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Your letter of 12.03.2021

Mr Michael Kemény
Mr Jorge Raposo

Via email: ████████@epo.org; ████████@epo.org
cc : ████████@epo.org

Dear Mr Kemény, dear Mr Raposo,

Thank you for your letter dated 12 March 2021 describing your business case for permanent secretarial support for the Local Staff Committees in Munich and The Hague.

The Office understands that you request two permanent administrative staff on a 50%-basis (overall 1 FTE), one located in The Hague and one located in Munich, to provide secretarial support to the Local Staff Committees. Your request is described in view of (i) replacing an administrative employee, who has performed administrative support to staff representation on a 50%-basis and retired end of May and (ii) the need for additional administrative support due to your experience that one administrative employee at 50% is not sufficient to cover all sites.

The services have assessed your request.

As indicated during the CSC-President meeting on 19 May 2021, there are some elements from your request that need to be addressed.

First, you mention the need for coordination. In our view, coordination, including being central points of contact, could be seen as part of the activities of the chairs or assigned to any other staff committee member.

Second, duty travel has decreased significantly due to the pandemic situation and video-conferencing has proved to be a reliable and safe tool to support our organisation and objectives in line with the Office’s new environmental policy.

And last but not least, in view of the progressing digitalisation of our work environment, a general review of secretarial and administrative tasks is required. With advanced digitalisation, the need for the classical secretariat work such as document and email management, printing, logistical support or other administrative tasks should gradually diminish or be handled by staff committee members. Furthermore staff representation time has continuously been increased over the last years.


It is in this light that the Office considers your request to be not aligned with the overall Office strategy or the times we are living in.

On the basis of the information provided, the request cannot be endorsed.

Yours sincerely,

António Campinos

So while the EPO posts rainbows and nonsense about ViCo in its “news” section (exploiting civil rights issues for self-congratulatory whitewash) it is actively attacking all of its own staff in a fashion not even Battistelli did. But nothing to see here, move along, said EU officials and the German authorities… doing so at their own peril.

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