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As Expected, Minimal Pseudo Compliance From EPO Management, Adding Insult to Injury

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Earlier this month: Two Months of ILO-AT Non-Compliance at the EPO and a Decade of a Docile Administrative Council That Approves Illegal Proposals

Extension of strike judgments to all staff

Summary: SUEPO Central, the core of the staff union of EPO staff (almost 7,000 workers at the EPO, most of whom are SUEPO members), has strong words about the EPO’s attitude and stance, which is perhaps unsurprising but still extremely disappointing

MORE than two months after the historic judgements of ILO-AT the EPO‘s President, António Campinos, writes internally to staff about Benoît Battistelli‘s strike regulations being ruled unlawful. Almost a decade too late!

The staff union is rightly upset and understandably circulates another publication among members. We’ve decided to reproduce it below, in full, as HTML:

23 September 2021
su21024cp – 0.2.1/5.1/5.2

Extension of strike judgments to all staff “No moral damages. No apology.” What next?

In his Communiqué of 14 September, Mr Campinos finally detailed the Office’s approach regarding the strike judgments of the 132nd session of the ILOAT. The Office intends to apply the outcome of the judgments to all staff on strike since July 2013 only insofar as they concern excessive strike deductions or for unauthorised absence on 2 and 3 July 2013. No moral damages will be awarded to those who neither filed a complaint in front of the Tribunal nor an application to intervene1. In a meeting with the Central Staff Committee (CSC) on 15 September, Mr Campinos even strongly excluded any form of apology from the Organisation to its staff.

The Office intends to conclude all payments by the end of the year. For the time being, we strongly recommend that you maintain your pending complaints and applications to intervene. This paper provides more details.

Meeting with the President: Lessons (not) learnt
On 15 September, the staff representation could address for the first time directly with Mr Campinos

the ILOAT strike judgments of 7 July. The staff representation argued that all EPO staff had been adversely prejudiced by the violation of their fundamental right to strike and by abuses of power. An International Organisation cannot take a fundamental right from its staff, give it back more than 8 years later and pretend that nothing happened. In his reply, Mr Campinos threatened to reduce cash injections into the pension reserve funds if he were to grant moral damages to all staff. Mr Campinos added that we should understand that in our Organisation, it’s just about moving money from one place to another. One could expect that upper management could be held accountable for designing HR policies violating fundamental rights, but Mr Campinos preemptively warned anyone who could point the finger at his services which he fully entrusts with further reforms.

The staff representation then suggested that the Organisation takes responsibility for mistakes of the past by at least apologizing to its staff. Mr Campinos bursted out in anger and shouted that he would not apologize and that we would never get an apology from him. With this statement, Mr Campinos confirms that he not only takes full responsibility for the continued policies during the first 3 years of his mandate, but also fully endorses the Battistelli administration. Mr Campinos reproached the staff representation to be not constructive when willing to discuss events that happened ages ago and added that we may have won this one but we don’t win 8 out of 10 of our

1 According to Laurent Germond, Director Employment Law, the Office identified 38 complaints still pending in front of the Tribunal, some of them being joined by interveners.

cases. Here, Mr Campinos confused quality and production: in terms of legal procedures, some are more fundamental than others.

In the meeting, Laurent Germond, Director Employment Law, recalled that the Tribunal’s statute does not foresee any class action procedure and that complaints will remain of an individual nature. The Office intends to apply the outcome of the judgments to all staff on strike since July 2013 only insofar as they concern excessive strike deductions or for unauthorised absence on 2 and 3 July 2013.

SUEPO expresses its solidarity to all staff in the HR Department who are now striving to conclude all payments by the end of year and have to repair the damages caused by their upper management.

What next?

Concerning the still running procedures against the strike regulations, we recommend the following:

I. Case AT-5 5167: Mr Battistelli abused his power by not organising the UNITY ballot

In his Communiqué of 14 September and as confirmed in front of the staff representation, Mr Campinos excludes the award of moral damages to all staff who were deprived of their right to vote in the ballot for the strike of the “UNITY initative” of 16 May 2014.

SUEPO recommends that complainants and those who file applications to intervene (see instructions here) maintain their procedures.

II. Case AT-5 5179: the SUEPO called strike of 2 July 2013 was lawful

In his Communiqué of 14 September and as confirmed in front of the staff representation, Mr Campinos intends to apply the outcome of Judgment 4433, but only partially, to all those employees who participated in the industrial action of 2 and 3 July 2013. The unlawful deductions for unauthorised absence will be reimbursed, the threatening letter from Principal Director Human Resources (Ms Bergot at the material time) will be removed from the personal file, but no moral damages will be awarded.

SUEPO recommends that complainants and those who file applications to intervene (see instructions here) maintain their procedures.

III. Management review MR/2021-0025
Excessive strike deductions of the January 2021 for the December 2020 strike

Mr Campinos had rejected the management review in a decision dated 21 June 2021.

In his Communiqué of 14 September, Mr Campinos announces that the outcome of Judgment No. 4435 will be applied to all those employees who went on strike since the introduction of CA/D 5/13. This concerns as well the deductions made on the January 2021 salary slip which are now expected to be reimbursed with interests at 5% per annum, less the amounts which could have been deducted on the basis of 1/30th (as applicable prior to the introduction of CA/D 5/13).

SUEPO considers it not necessary that all concerned staff file a mass appeal against the rejection decision for MR/2021-0025 dated 21 June 2021.

IV. Case AT-5 5244: Excessive strike deductions of 1/20th are unlawful and punitive

The extension of the outcome of Judgment No. 4435 concerns the strike deductions during the period of October 2013 until April 2016 covered by this case and which are now expected to be reimbursed with interests at 5% per annum, less the amounts which could have been deducted on the basis of 1/30th (as applicable prior to the introduction of CA/D 5/13).

As long as the payments are not concluded, SUEPO recommends that complainants and those who file applications to intervene (see instructions here) maintain their procedures.

The still pending complaints and the filing of hundreds of applications to intervene since the announcement of the strike judgments on 7 July may have been one of the reasons for Mr Campinos to extend the outcome of some of the judgments to all staff.

We regret that Mr Campinos only decided to opt for a partial extension of the outcome excluding noticeably moral damages. This shows once again that in order to fully safeguard their rights, EPO staff must go to litigation.

SUEPO Central

As a side note, I was having a very productive today. Had a long (and long-distance) call with political entities willing to do something about EPO abuses. Tons of time and energy has been poured into it (research and talking/communicating), but it needs to be done and we hope to have some breakthrough soon. We’ll refrain from sharing any more details as they can jeopardise the process at this relatively early stage.

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