Bonum Certa Men Certa

Article Translation (de Volkskrant): EPO Employees Are Tired of Tyranny and Take to the Streets

de Volkskrant article

Summary: A somewhat belated translation of Dutch media coverage of the EPO staff protest in Rijswijk last month

THE EPO is alienating many people in Holland. All that these people have to do is switch on the television, pick up a newspaper, or read some blogs/news sites online. Petra Kramer has thankfully offered help with translation of Dutch articles about the EPO. One of these articles is a month old, but we never got a translation of it before, so here it goes:

EPO Employees are tired of tyranny and take to the streets

Report: Employees European Patent Office to the streets

Five suicides in three years, colleagues collapse: employees of the European Patent Organisation, tired of the tyrannical leadership - "They have no compassion - take to the streets.

"Elisabeth, Ion, Malika, Laurent, Jésus." A British employee of the European Patent Office in Rijswijk has written the names of five suspended or be it sacked colleagues on his T-shirt. With several hundred colleagues, he demonstrates in front of the Hague Peace Palace on a Thursday afternoon. "My name does not matter, it's too dangerous to mention."

For some time a high rising conflict has been festering between the staff and the top of the European Patent Office, the international organization with seven thousand employees which assesses the patent requests for 38 European countries. Their boss, the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, imposed the deterioration of working conditions from his office in Munich so claims the accusation.

The specific reason for the demonstration was the dismissal of two colleagues and the demotion of a third party in Munich. One of those affected is the department chair of the Suepo union in Munich, the Dutch Elizabeth Hardon. Last week, all 1,300 employees in Munich took to the streets yesterday 900 of the 2,700 workers from Rijswijk demonstrated in the Hague embassy district.

"I want my rights back," it says on a banner. On a T-shirt that says "I support my suspended colleague" 'suspended' is crossed out with pencil and replaced by" fired !!! ".

"It's a vendetta between top management and the unions," a protester analyses during the protest march of the French to the German embassy and back. "There are dismissed colleagues and some of their pension will be retained." Those who are critical of or working for the federal expect reprisals. Last year we found that executives of the union are monitored by investigators of the controversial British research firm Control Risks.

The otherwise quiet embassy district is overwhelmed by whistle-blowing protestors. Many protesters wear earplugs. A German ambassador is there to receive the petition. A German worker: "Because of the the international status we do not know where to file our complaint. Should we do it at the House of Representatives? At minister Ascher? At the European Parliament? There is an external procedure for labour disputes but it takes eight years."

The last three years there were five suicides among staff, two of them in Rijswijk. An employee took his own life on the last day of his summer vacation. Before that another employee jumped of the seventh floor. Labour inspection was not allowed to investigate.

"As an international organization we are outside the legal framework," the British patent expert explains. "We may indeed refuse access to any inspection because we have immunity, but that does nnot mean we have to do it course."

Among the staff in Rijswijk turmoil has grown after a critical colleague succumbed to the pressure on Friday. "He collapsed in the cafeteria and had to be transported by ambulance. But the next week he had to immediately explain himself, "says an Italian. "They have no compassion."

Appointing volunteers

Next week, CEO Battistelli will visit the Netherlands. He wants to talk with a delegation of the staff, so say several protesters, but no one dares. "Now his department is appointing volunteers," sneers a Spaniard. "Call it anything but voluntary."

The German worker, who works in Rijswijk for years, pointing to him: 'Surely three-quarters of these people have a doctorate, but we are afraid to go on the street. That's ridiculous. It's like North Korea. "

After a half an hour the buses return to the office in Rijswijk. Hundreds of colleagues who did not dare to demonstrate are waiting for them. "There is a lot of fatalism. Many colleagues say that we have already lost the battle, "says a Frenchman. "They are afraid to put their head on the chopping block."

Petra Kramer's note on the above, due to the stubborn paywall, was this: "Human corrected machine translation of Paywalled, but if you don't have any cookies from that site it should be accessible for free."

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