Bonum Certa Men Certa

Social Agenda 2024 at the European Patent Office is Depressing to Staff

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Jan 20, 2024

Social Agenda 2024 at EPO

"Only about a third of Europe-wide monopoly (patent) recipients are actually European," we wrote yesterday. One reader has since suggested that we write more about the EPO and how, under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, it works against Europe rather than for Europe. Heck, it even works against its own staff! Some are tacitly forced to grant European software patents just to fake so-called 'production'.

So today we wish to share an open letter about the staff of the EPO (mostly examiners) and how they view this year's social agenda. About a week ago the following message was sent to staff or circulated among staff (that takes time due to the illegal censorship).

Among the many recipients there are usually several willing to send us a copy. Here's what this one said:

Dear Colleagues,

The Office will face a number of challenges in the year 2024. Based on the feedback received from staff, the Central Staff Committee (CSC) proposed to add the following topics to the Social Agenda 2024:

- Functional and ergonomic software tools at the EPO

- Monitoring and review the EPO career system

- Learning from the New Ways of Working

The CSC firmly believes that progress in functional, fit-for purpose and ergonomic tools, a career system that is perceived as fair and balanced, and learning from the New Ways of Working to balance interests will contribute most to staff well-being at work. And only a healthy staff can contribute to the success of the EPO.

Read more in this open letter to the President.

Sincerely yours

The Central Staff Committee

The corresponding open letter probably belongs in the public domain where EPO stakeholders (including European citizens who are being subjected by law to these corporate monopolies) can see it, either as HTML, plain text, or GemText.

Here's the full text:

European Patent Office
80298 Munich

Central Staff Committee
Comité central du personnel
Zentraler Personalausschuss

Tel. +49-89-2399-2120

Reference: sc23146cl

Date: 21.12.2023

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

by email


Social Agenda 2024

Dear Mr President,
The Office will face a number of challenges in the coming year. Based on the

feedback received from staff, the Central Staff Committee (CSC) makes the following proposals for the Social Agenda 2024. The CSC already knows from the Annual Work Plan 2024 that you have planned a number of topics for next year’s Social Agenda. Taking up your suggestion that changes to HR software tools will be closely coordinated with the social dialogue, it is important to extend this idea to other areas of computer tools. It must be ensured that the computer tools used in day-to-day-work are not falling short of expectations due to a lack of prioritisation and an excessive belief in the mantra of the minimum viable product.

The first proposal to add to the Social Agenda is therefore the topic of functional and ergonomic software tools at the EPO. The CSC proposes that the workflow, how software tools are released, the frequency of updates, and how user feedback is gathered, be reconsidered in a common working group. The tools should be carefully analysed and benchmarked in order to be able to evaluate any alleged efficiency gains.

Furthermore, the CSC is of course aware that performance management is closely linked to the reward system. However, too many examples are known where the current system encouraged negative excesses. These include excessive competitiveness, which can hinder productive cooperation and information sharing between colleagues. Colleagues have also the impression that their contributions are not considered adequately despite their high-quality contribution to the tasks of the Office. This leads to a deterioration of the working atmosphere.

The second proposal to add to the Social Agenda thus is the monitoring and review of the career system in the EPO. The CSC is concerned that the recent changes to the implementation of the New Career System will lead to further challenges for staff and management.

The New Ways of Working pilot had the greatest impact on the daily work of colleagues. Careful reflection on the pros and cons of the pilot is necessary to achieve improvements. The wishes of the staff are heterogeneous, and expectations are high. This is precisely why it is important to take a balanced approach. The CSC would like to help ensure that as many interests as possible can be taken up in the envisaged continuation of the new Ways of Working. Therefore, our third proposal is to include learning from the New Ways of Working in the Social Agenda.

The CSC firmly believes that progress in functional, fit-for purpose and ergonomic tools, a career system that is perceived as fair and balanced, and learning from the New Ways of Working to balance interests will contribute most to staff well- being at work. And let’s all be aware that only a healthy staff can contribute to the success of the Office. Therefore, the CSC would like to leave it at these three core proposals for the Social Agenda 2024.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Kelly
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

This is more softly-worded or more polite than the union would have put it. It's phrased as if the mistreatment of staff is some unfortunate accident rather than something deliberate.

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