12.13.21

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A Year After the Last EPO Strike Another One May be Brewing

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: With EPO ‘Strike Regulations’ Belatedly Ruled Unlawful, EPO Management May be Lowering the Salary Even Further by Introducing Outside ‘Temps’ or Casual Workers | EPO Cannot and Will Not Self-Regulate (“financialisation” means institutions get rid of their own staff)

EPO salary cut
Yes, a de facto salary cut each year

Summary: The EPO is being crushed (or turned into a rubber-stamping pipeline) by Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; EPO staff isn’t tolerating it

A YEAR ago (one year minus 2 days) the EPO’s staff went on strike; back then they were expected to ask for permission/authorisation and even run a vote for it, based on some unlawful regulations. Today we look at or take stock of last year’s events, the principal reason for the strike, and the current situation. Some of it is history, but the issues persist and have in fact gotten worse since last year.

Earlier today (this morning) staff representatives in Munich circulated a message attributed to the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO. To quote: “The result of the Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) has now been published on the intranet by the administration, albeit in an obscured manner buried among various topics discussed in the last GCC. In this paper, we try to give more insight into the outcome of the SAP and break down the steps to arrive at the result for 1 January 2022.”

The publication is dated 3 days ago [PDF] and it suggests that last year’s warnings were not in vain. While inflation soars the pays stays unchanged; in the words of the representatives: “The adjustment of 0% in 2022 and the eventual adjustment by the pitifully low capped adjustments should be understood as a loss in purchasing power because of the inflation and the increase in the cost of living. Note that the SAP has a disastrous effect not only on our salaries, but also on our allowances and pensions. Staff will now suffer from the combination of Battistelli and Campinos reforms.”

This ought not be surprising. They’ve been warning about this for a very long time. Campinos even pretended to have changed his mind. “No adjustment of salaries on 1 January 2022″ simply means that yet again salaries are, in effect, decreasing. All this while the EPO exploits the pandemic to reduce operating costs and therefore profit more than ever before. Those profitd are then diverted into gambling and speculation; we know who stands to gain from that…

And sure, it’s also illegal.

All of this is very familiar because almost exactly a year ago in Munich similar publications were circulated. Here are a couple of slideshows and publications from almost exactly one year ago, published by the Staff Committee Munich or Munich Staff Representatives (LSCMN):

Seven reasons to strike on 15 December 2020 [PDF]

Slides [PDF]

More slides [PDF]

These online “meetings” were “attended” by over a thousand people during the pandemic. More people than that would then go on strike.

Meanwhile, almost exactly one year ago from SUEPO Berlin Committee (same country) came the following publication, stating:

Enough is Enough

Defending our working conditions from permanent erosion. Defend your future.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Dear SUEPO Member,

During this year of pandemic our management has not hesitated to continue the attacks on our working conditions: Education allowance, career, contracts. The attack on our salaries and pensions through the application of an imposed Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) is the latest and more brutal attack on all of us. It produces a cut of real salaries (purchasing power) and pensions of roughly 3%, which is more than one step in your grade. This is only the first year of the application of the President's SAP. More cuts are only a matter of time. If not fixed, the President's SAP mechanism will melt our salaries and pensions (-25% in 10 years, and -50% in 20 years, if we have similar adjustments in the future).

The office's financial figures for September 2020 already disclose that the alleged financial gap of 5.8 BN Euro has been reduced down to 0.3 BN EURO by the financial measures already taken. This is equivalent to the EPO's budget surplus for 2020. It can be expected that the alleged financial gap of 5.8 BN Euro is entirely CLOSED until the end of 2020 without any adaption of the SAP.

Even though the Covid-19 crisis led to a reduction in the GDP worldwide and so in Europe for this year, the OECD estimations show a significant GDP growth for the coming year, such that even better financial results can be expected for the EPO in the future. Also the assumption of an economic crisis in 2021 as made in the financial study phase I will obviously not materialise, which underlines the fact that the financial studies are unusable. This has been also acknowledged by the audit done by Ernst and Young.

In fact the previous SAP could just be continued without any financial risk for the EPO.

The President's SAP has not factual basis anymore1.

However, the President does neither seem to acknowledge the actual office's financial situation nor the positive economic future perspectives. He refutes that his SAP is erroneous and refuses to approach the Administrative Council in order to correct it as soon as possible.

Instead he alleges that staff would support his SAP, while staff representation would live in a bubble or in a different universe being remote and disconnected from you and your real interests.

He continues further with his salary adjustment procedure which will – just by the application for 2021 alone – result in gains of about 1 BN Euro until 2025 leading to excessive savings of more than 700 Million Euros on the expense of us, the staff at the EPO. These gains are half of the 2 BN Euro, which was supposed to been gained until 2038 on the part of staff by an amended SAP.

The President's mantra on the "redistribution" of excessive savings after three years (periodical settlements, Article 10 Implementing Rule for Article 64 ServRegs) is nothing more but a smoke screen: Currently the "redistribution" is neither designed nor defined. However, it is already clear that pensioners will never benefit from it, salary scales will not be adjusted therewith such that it will never be pensionable and it must be approved by the Administrative Council anyway.

In view of staff's high achievements in production and productivity over the last years the President's SAP is a slap in the face of every staff member and far from being fair or at all justified2.

SUEPO is decided to fight this new attack. The future of the Staff, the stability for our families, the respect of the engagements made (pensions, careers, schools) are more important that the big pile of cash the president wishes to have as a new toy. Nobody should play with our salaries and our pensions.

We ask every staff member to stand up and face these attacks. 2021 may be a year of social conflict until these attacks cease, which is why we need to send a strong political signal:

We3 call you for one day of strike4 during the plenum of the Administrative Council on 15 December.

Please do participate massively and talk with your colleagues about this strike.

We are STRONG TOGETHER!

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Your SUEPO Berlin Committee

1 For further info please see the attached document "The SAP story" [PDF]
2 see also attached flyer "Two Sides of the Coin" [PDF]
3 This call for strike supported by all local SUEPO Committee and by SUEPO Central
4 See the respective notification of the strike to the President dated 07.12.2020, the underlying call for strike [PDF] as well as the results of the corresponding strike ballot. [PDF]

So many of the exact same issues persist. Now, with fewer “regulations” against strikes, a strike can be done or started spontaneously. It just requires a degree of coordination — not that the captured (by patent litigation firms) would notice and cover that.

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