Gemini version available ♊︎

EPO Management Still Treats EPO Workers Poorly, Even During Pandemic

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A candid letter from the EPO’s staff representatives helps shed light on how staff of the EPO feels, with particular focus on DG1 colleagues in Job Groups 5 and 6

THE Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO, or elected staff representatives (for patent examiners for the most part), wrote to the Welsh outsourcer of António Campinos earlier this month ahead of a meeting scheduled to take place later this week. This Welsh Microsoft outsourcer isn’t a by-product of Benoît Battistelli, but he’s problematic nonetheless. He didn’t net or secure this high-paying job to do what’s right; he’s at the EPO to serve the “alt-right” of the patent world — the extremists who lack respect for science and facts.

“As for the EPO managers using buzzwords like “upskilled”, this is a codeword for companies like IBM to get rid of older (more senior, experienced, and well-organised) staff.”Towards the end of last year concerns were raised citing “house arrest” (not the same as “house ban”) and this has a lot of impact on the EPO’s operations, not just human rights compliance and mental wellbeing of modest people. A bad EPO cannot attract the staff the EPC demands. Some days ago the CSC told staff: “In October 2021 we started meeting Job Group 5 and 6 colleagues to gather first-hand information on their concerns and their well-being status, and to ask them for their views on future perspectives for their Job Group and Job Profile. Amongst the colleagues we met were various Formalities Officers (FO) teams in The Hague. Their feedback will serve as a basis for our discussions with the Vice-President DG1, with whom we will meet on 24 February. We would like to share the letter we sent him.”

Many members of staff received a copy of the letter, so why not reproduce it for members of the general public, including besieged programmers (who face threats from a wave of European software patents)?

Here is the full letter, which is dated 11 days ago (around the same time as the call for industrial action).


Dear Mr Vice‐President, dear Steve,

In October 2021 we started meeting Job Group 5 and 6 colleagues to gather first‐hand information on their concerns and their wellbeing status, and to ask them for their views on future perspectives for their Job Group and Job Profile. Amongst the colleagues we met were various Formalities Officers (FO) teams in The Hague.

It is their feedback which we would now like to share with you. We believe this should serve as a basis for our future discussions with you and your team so that we can best support our DG1 colleagues in Job Groups 5 and 6 by jointly working on proposals.

We received positive feedback about general access to teleworking and the delivery of necessary IT equipment. The possibility of working from abroad was welcomed as well as the flexibility in working hours. Staff that needed to be in the Office appreciated being allowed to do so. Regarding FO tasks, some colleagues explicitly appreciated the diversification entailed in their job and the possibility of working in projects.

There are, however, several issues which were reported to us, and which we would also like to bring to your attention (not necessarily presented in order of importance):

Organisational issues: Small teams find it difficult to properly organise holidays or cope with sick leave in their units. The obligation to take leave on enforced Office closure days is extremely unpopular, especially as the original intention of these closure days, to save heating costs, etc., is no longer valid when the Office buildings are not being occupied.

There are strong concerns about the upcoming reorganisation, the planning of which FOs feel that, once again, they were not involved in. Whilst this reorganisation is scheduled to happen in the second quarter of 2022, no clear information has, as yet, been made available.
Our colleagues request to be properly informed about changes they have to prepare for.

IT Tools: FOs are exhausted due to the constant changes in IT tools in their area. They wish to be better involved in the development of any new IT tools in order that their needs are met. Changes are often perceived as unnecessary and are implemented in an illogical manner. FOs would like to have a break and time to absorb the changes. In addition, with the multiplication of channels of communication and knowledge sources a lot of time has been lost in searching for information.

Impact of (excessive) teleworking: Though there is still good social bonding in the teams from pre‐COVID times, personal interactions and/or integration into DG1 and staff groups is strongly missed. Some colleagues report that they suffer from loneliness and demoralisation. Many report screen fatigue. Colleagues who come to the Office premises are frustrated that, without a canteen, sports facilities etc, they are not able to see and talk to colleagues in person.

Teams were merged shortly before mandatory teleworking started; therefore, members of the new teams have not had the chance to meet with their colleagues. This absence of face‐to‐face interaction is felt to be prejudicial to proper integration into new teams.
Trainers and coaches report that virtual training is more challenging due to the limited possibility to detect and address difficulties trainees might have.

Future perspective: Our colleagues complain about the limited and fuzzy information they receive about their future work. They do not know whether they will continue to do what they did the last 10 years for another 10 years, or whether they will rather have to apply for a job in another department – this is frustrating and gloomy. The message from management that “no one will be left behind” is simply not enough. Several colleagues are considering early retirement due to this uncertainty.
FO colleagues have a thorough knowledge of the complex and ever‐changing patent procedure, most of them have been working for many decades – despite often obsolete and unreliable IT tools – to support and complement the work of Examiners. Yet, management considers that they need to be “upskilled”; this very term is perceived as disrespectful and adds to the general feeling that management do not know about FO work.
In addition, our FO colleagues consider the loss of the LPS as very damaging to the knowledge transfer process, and for the accessibility and efficiency of procedural support. FOs need proximity procedural support and the work of SCAPES should be limited to 2nd level procedural support.

Career and rewards: According to our colleagues, the Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) is unfair, and the career system is broken. Several older colleagues, who are stuck in the last step of the last grade within their Job Group, do not have the prospect of any further salary progression. Other colleagues report that starting in a lower grade, and with the New Career System, it will be impossible to reach the last grade and step of their Job Group. There is no transparency regarding (pensionable) rewards and bonuses, and our colleagues ask what the functional allowances are about. There is a clear feeling that not all FOs receive adequate rewards. They also regret there was no reward for their achievements during the pandemic year 2021. In our colleagues’ perception, there is a lack of recognition from the side of management. Part‐timers (most often mothers) feel discriminated against as they cannot be involved in projects and are therefore not equally valued.

In the meantime, we have received an invitation to meet you and your team on 24 February in order to further discuss JG 5&6 matters. We hope that the feedback raised by our colleagues can serve as a sound basis for this discussion and to help define the next steps. We are looking forward to a fruitful meeting,

Kind regards,

on behalf of the Taskforce JG 5/6 matters

Many people who work or have worked from home would be able to relate to some of the above sentiments. As for the EPO managers using buzzwords like “upskilled”, this is a codeword for companies like IBM to get rid of older (more senior, experienced, and well-organised) staff. You basically twist experience and seniority as a negative, a burden, a liability. Maybe Microsoft told Mr. Rowan that having no keylogger on your PC makes your skills “outdated”.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New

  1. Links 01/07/2022: More Widespread Calls to Delete GitHub

    Links for the day

  2. [Meme] President Crybaby

    EPO President António Campinos, who constantly assaults the EPO’s staff, has portrayed himself as a poor victim of “hostile” staff (reversal of narratives)

  3. People Are Very Angry That Campinos Was Left in Positions of Power Without Any Competition and in Spite of Failing to Fulfill Essential Goals

    As predicted, people are infuriated by the decision of the Administrative Council to give Campinos several more years to destroy the EPO and its reputation (while moreover pushing a totally illegal and unconstitutional patent court system, which severely harms the image of the European Union)

  4. Microsoft Windows is a 'Burning Platform' (Both on the Server Side and the Client Side)

    'Burning platform' is a derogatory term from Microsoft's Elop; ironically, today's 'burning platform' is actually Windows, even if the corporate media isn't talking about that

  5. Links 01/07/2022: Nitrux 2.2.1 and Raspberry Pi Pico W Chatter

    Links for the day

  6. Links 01/07/2022: Wayland 1.21.0 and SteamOS 3.3 Beta

    Links for the day

  7. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 30, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 30, 2022

  8. [Meme] EPO Election (Auction)

    The corruption at the EPO did not end with Benoît Battistelli‘s departure; it’s still deepening

  9. Links 01/07/2022: Condres OS 1.0 and Microsoft Losing More Share in Web Servers

    Links for the day

  10. Published 10 Minutes Ago: IRCNow by Aaron Lin

    This talk was uploaded moments ago. “Of the users, by the users, for the users…”

  11. Links 30/06/2022: PostgreSQL 15 Beta 2

    Links for the day

  12. Links 30/06/2022: Pine64 Has RISC-V-Based Raspberry Pi Rival, Pico W Introduced

    Links for the day

  13. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 29, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

  14. It's 2022 and Installing Software in GNU/Linux Has Never Been Easier

    GNU/Linux is easy to use and extend; the above demonstrates how new software gets installed, removed, and updated in KDE Neon

  15. Sitting Down Less

    Avoiding long periods of sitting down is important for one's health, especially in sedentary lifestyles or jobs

  16. Microsoft Windows Market Share in Russia in 2022: Down From 55% to 50% in 5 Months

    As June ends (last day today) let’s examine the rapid demise of Windows in Russia, even before the exodus media speaks of this week (an ongoing story)

  17. European Patent Office is a Kakistocracy Illustrated

    Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos aren’t just a “dark era” for the EPO; they might in fact be the end of the EPO, having made corruption the “new normal” or “new ways of working”

  18. [Meme] EPO Rewarding Corruption Instead of Upholding the Law and Protecting the European Patent Convention (EPC)

    Wednesday proved that the EPO actively guards corruption and protects Team Battistelli from scrutiny; instead of standing for patent law the EPO under António Campinos stands for overt violations of the law; national delegates are fine with it as long as they’re personally rewarded for complicity

  19. Links 29/06/2022: Collabora Online Developer Edition 22.05 and HPLIP 3.22.6

    Links for the day

  20. Links 29/06/2022: Ubuntu Touch OTA-23

    Links for the day

  21. Cautionary Tales About an António Campinos-Run EPO

    The EPO is basically doomed under António Campinos because he abandoned the law for short term monetary gains (e.g. granting fake software patents under the guise of “4IR”), assuring the demise of the institution, which can no longer attract employees that meet the standard strictly required under the EPC, begetting outsourcing which only worsens everything

  22. Sustainability of Crime at the European Patent Office (EPO), Europe's Second-Largest Institution

    The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has voted for corruption; it wants violations of the law to carry on for several more years and it all boils down to money (they get paid more if they support breaches of laws, constitutions, and treaties)

  23. EPO is “Building a Team of C and D Players”

    This pretty well describes what happened to the EPO under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos

  24. Corrupt António Campinos Bought Himself Another Term by Bribing Voters, Whom None of the Staff Trusts

    The EPO has failed to shake off the cabal of Benoît Battistelli; his friend António Campinos has bought himself a second term, demonstrating just how dysfunctional the EPO became (pushing illegal and unconstitutional “reforms” while violating the EPC at every turn)

  25. Links 29/06/2022: Russians Moving to GNU/Linux

    Links for the day

  26. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 28, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, June 28, 2022

  27. [Meme] The Delegates' Munich Rally (June 29th 2022), Re-electing a Corrupt Dictator?

    The EPO's presidency is still being bought using bribes, so there’s no real democracy (auctions, not elections); The reference may be seen as offensive, but remember Benoît Battistelli‘s family ties to Nazism

  28. Most “Job Applicants to an Examiner Position at EPO Who Were Offered a Job Did Not Take it”

    One of many interesting comments left since Monday

  29. CNX Software or CNX Microsofter?

    Is the money worth it, CNX? You are putting off readers, very few of whom are likely to be using antique versions of Microsoft Office; better to focus on news, not spamfarming

  30. Links 28/06/2022: Vim 9.0 and vnlog 1.33

    Links for the day

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts