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The EPO’s Race to the Bottom — Part IV — New Career System (NCS) and New Pension System (NPS)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. The EPO’s Race to the Bottom — Part I — From Bad to Worse
  2. The EPO’s Race to the Bottom — Part II — “Playing People Off Against Each Other is Not the Way We Want to Go Forward!”
  3. The EPO’s Race to the Bottom — Part III — “The King is Naked” (a Fake Financial Shortage and ‘Missing’ — or Plundered — Billions)
  4. YOU ARE HERE ☞ New Career System (NCS) and New Pension System (NPS)

Career skies

Summary: The vision for EPO staff and former staff is grim; in just one decade Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos have turned the EPO from an attractive employer into a pariah which routinely breaks the law and is reviled by its very own staff

“The New Career System (NCS) has ruined the careers of many while it has boosted a few, amongst which the top managers that designed it. The figures provided by management show exactly that.”

Those were the words spoken by the union of the EPO’s staff [PDF] (mostly examiners) two years ago. “Do you want to keep competing against your colleagues, endanger your health and destroy your job satisfaction?”

See the prior part about creating a dog-eat-dog workplace, where people compete over who can cut corners the best (or stay up the longest, possibly awake all night long to meet “targets”).

The union thinks “the time has come to fix the career system, by providing guaranteed step progression and a truly merit-based career. In this paper we develop some of the measures we are proposing to amend the NCS in order to make it fit for purpose.”

“See the prior part about creating a dog-eat-dog workplace, where people compete over who can cut corners the best (or stay up the longest, possibly awake all night long to meet “targets”).”The SUEPO Munich and The Hague Committees also spoke about the quality of patents, which is fast declining. See under PRODUCTION TARGETS AND QUALITY: “The staff representation provided as early as February 2019 an input for the strategic plan (see conclusion, point 5.1.1) and stressed that the targets must be brought to a sustainable level. This has been ignored so far by management 3. SUEPO has proposed 17 measures to address the social situation at the EPO. SUEPO measure 1 reads: 1. Set production objectives at a healthy and sustainable level to ensure that the quality of granted patents returns to the level which made the reputation of the EPO.”

In another publication, published on the same month [PDF], the New Career System (NCS) was mentioned alongside the New Pension System (NPS). When it comes to pension, they noted, “some are far more equal than others…”

It would not be the first time management rewards itself massively, at the expense of everybody else (like, those who actually do all the real work).

“In his live interview with four team managers on 22 October,” the authors said, “Mr Campinos, when confronted with the concerns of colleagues in the New Pension System (NPS) recently hired in the Office, stated “We are in the same boat, kind of”.”

Well, many submerged and the captain clutching the rope off some helicopter, having been landed with a golden parachute into this “boat” (to sink it, having never worked there before).

“Well, we beg to disagree,” the authors added, “at least with the first part of the sentence. Mr Campinos and other senior managers, e.g. VPs or PDs, recruited after 2008 are indeed placed under the NPS. But it is the only thing they have in common with recently hired staff, for several reasons.”

“It would not be the first time management rewards itself massively, at the expense of everybody else (like, those who actually do all the real work).”The EPO is being destroyed and the media which covers patents refuses to talk about it. The media which isn’t focused on patents never really does any journalism about patents, at all (not anymore). This is why these documents need to be put out there and discussed, as I did last night.

I’ve reached out to Ryan, who is roughly my age but is based in the United States. He commented on the part which struck a nerve for saying: “Do you want to keep competing against your colleagues, endanger your health and destroy your job satisfaction?”

“That’s exactly how businesses treat workers in the US even though they say they can’t find replacement workers,” Ryan explained. “They sure keep acting like they can. They’re already closing the store and saying “No employees came in.” and they drive off the employees. It’s not just places like Walmart. It’s everywhere.”

“Mom [Ryan's mother, a nurse] said she was glad that she left her last job because bad management came in and now it’s totally ghetto. They have agency staff in there for half the staffing, and they show up whenever they feel like it. There’s no continuity of care for residents and it’s expensive. The whole thing is necessary because the management is so toxic that they drove out all of the career nurses and everyone who had been there forever and now it costs them more to run that place poorly than it ever did when it was a nice place. I think companies are sticking to their old mentality of there’s always more where these people came from. Then they wonder why they have to keep raising wages and throwing out hiring bonuses and there’s still nobody that their rules allow them to bring back in.”

Ryan used to work for Walmart, so that analogy is a recurring theme (for cut-throat enterprises).

“Notice how the EPO lowered the salary by about 80% (not a typo) for some new examiners/recruits.”“Walmart operates like the Borg,” he explained. “If they drum you out, they put you on at least an automatic 6 month shit list where you won’t be rehired, and now they wonder why entire stores have to be closed for lack of staffing. And if you do get a call saying “Hey, come back!” It’s for starting wages, and you have to start all over, and you don’t rack up personal hours and have to wait for health insurance again. So it’s very demoralizing. People who come back say “I’m poorer than the last time I worked here!” and then they don’t want to do much work, and they leave again because Amazon hired them. I mean, this has been going on forever, but the COVID nonsense has made it worse. They need to throw out the playbook and figure out a way to retain employees. And a lot of places are like that. The nursing home my mom worked at years ago went through calling people who used to work there. She goes: “Do I start out with everything I had after 20 years of my life in that place?” and they go, “Well no…” So it’s basically like, the only reason she was still doing it was because it was a pain in the butt to get in the car and commute, but she’d been there so long that nobody else was going to offer her the deal she had there. If all they’re going to do is hire her back for what some nurse who starts on day 1 makes, why would she leave the job she has in her own town? She’s almost at an age where she can retire and there’s so much crap going on lately that she’s seriously considering just doing it.”

Notice how the EPO lowered the salary by about 80% (not a typo) for some new examiners/recruits.

Regarding pensions, Ryan said about his mother that “her employer froze her pension years ago even though they lied and said it would keep growing until 67 if she wanted to keep working there. So that won’t get any bigger. And she has to retire to take it, and then they’ll be down another nurse.”

“But now they come back and say if she retires, she can still work there and claim her pension and they’ll give her 40 hours a week anyway if she wants it and they’ll just say she’s retired. It’s organizational lulz. People in management are Attack of the Clones. It’s the same damned mess everywhere. They don’t know what they’re doing. They sap morale. Last year, they sent out 10 emails….Not 1 or 2 but 10, saying there’s going to be a big bonus at the end of the year if you stay. Then the end of the year arrives and the Diocese office sends out another one saying they “miscommunicated” and there was no bonus. Is this starting to sound like the EPO?”

The EPO keeps lying to staff, that’s for sure. Pensioners too are being 'looted' (plundered funds).

“The EPO keeps lying to staff, that’s for sure.”“What we need is a new New Deal,” Ryan claimed. “Workers are so burned out at this point that it’s hard to get productivity out of them, especially because management theory is obsolete and they need to get out of their own way and look at how to keep the people they already have and motivate them to produce more. But the “vicious treadmill”, especially in low wage work, has said, “You start looking for ways to fire people the day they start working there. Then when they cost more than a new hire, you sack them and make them apply for their job again.” What actually ends up happening is you toss out the good ones along with everyone else, and end up bringing in an unknown factor. When you could have just pruned the diseased branches. I actually had a boss that was honest with me one day. Shocking. He said, “You know, if I had 5 more of you, I wouldn’t need 18 people in this department. But hard work doesn’t actually get you anywhere at most places. It gets you more work, but they still treat you like shit. The pay is still the same as if you were slowly meandering about like everyone else. So people get this signaling that they should slow down and stop having standards, because there’s no reward.”

Regarding the sagging salaries of EPO workers (especially newer workers), Ryan said: “I’m assuming they’re not picky about who they hire and they’re not actually there to examine anything. Then they start looking to lay off people who are already there, so they can replace them with someone cheap. Like, the law says they have to have “examiners”.”

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