03.26.17

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Yes, Battistelli’s Ban on EPO Strikes (or Severe Limitation Thereof) is a Violation of Human Rights

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

British unions must defend their right to strike – and become better at it
Reference: British unions must defend their right to strike – and become better at it

Summary: Battistelli has curtailed even the right to strike, yet anonymous cowards attempt to blame the staff (as in patent examiners) for not going out of their way to engage in ‘unauthorised’ strikes (entailing dismissal)

THE EPO had a general strike one year ago. The Office was half empty. But it only lasted one day, it resulted in paycuts for those who participated, and it took a monumental effort to organise, with permission sought from the bosses under extreme constraints and risk to those voting/joining. This isn’t what we should expect in the 21st century, certainly not in the EPO. The whole thing (the strike and vote for a strike) just came to show how badly oppressed EPO staff really is. For Battistelli and Bergot, moreover, attempts to prevent the strike were self-defeating and they just served to reinforce the point made by disgruntled staff (almost everyone vote for a strike).

The other day we noticed the following comment, which responded to provocation that we refuse to repeat (similar provocation, maybe from the same person, was posted among comments in The Register at the same time). To quote the response alone:

I understand that the examiners have moved to this working practice because Battistelli introduced Rank and Yank. Last year, the EPO granted 90,000 patents, which is 50% more than in the years before. The examiners increased their production by 50% just to compete with their colleagues for a salary increase of about 2,000 euro per year, which only half of the examiners are entitled to receive.

[provocation omitted]

I do not know anyone who works “for the bonus of 2,000 euro”. I certainly don’t. In fact, I couldn’t care less if I get the bonus or not. What is much more worrying is missing your target by such an amount that you get a poor report.

“But it is even worse. A judge remains in limbo, union officials have been fired, the appeal court will be moved to the outskirts of Munich. And the staff in the EPO remains silent. Poor people! They get what they deserve. “Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat.” ”

Unfortunately we are powerless, with the changes that BB has introduced. We have been been as non-silent as possible, witness the various protest marches that we have held, resulting in occasional negative reports in the (local) press. I’m curious what else it is that you think we should do under the current management – you may have rights in your country (whichever that is), unfortunately, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, we don’t. Obviously, when they decide to start investigating the contents of our private electronic devices, not only will we have no rights, we will also have no privacy.

I am posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

In reply to the above, one person said: “A proper all out strike for a month would have sent a message that could not have been ignored.”

This demonstrates that some clueless people (who don’t know the EPO’s new rules) are eager to just blame the victims. If the staff strikes without permission — as ludicrous as the notion of permission may be in this context — Team Battistelli will replace staff with Google algorithms (this is already done to a degree, limiting their role in decision-making and assessment of prior art). It would further damage patent quality and thus penalise European businesses.

The person in question (maybe just blissfully naïve) said:

EPO staff have nobody to blame but themselves.

A proper all out strike for a month would have sent a message that could not have been ignored.

If people are not prepared to show solidarity and fight for their rights then there is no point whingeing when they are taken away from you.

“I would think twice before blaming the examiners” at the EPO, said a person in response to this. They’re the victim. They are well paid, but they are suffering. The reply to the above went as follows:

Wow. That’s pretty harsh. Whilst I too have never been in the employ of the European Patent Organisation, I would think twice before blaming the examiners in the way that you have done.

You do realise that BB has imposed serious restrictions upon the ability of EPO employees to strike, don’t you? So, in effect, he has taken away the very weapon that you condemn the EPO examiners for not deploying.

And as for fighting for their rights, do you not count taking court cases as far as possible in both Germany and the Netherlands? And what about making repeated pleas to the members of the AC?

Frankly, I think that you should walk a mile or two in the shoes of the examiners… deprived of rights enshrined in European law, badly let down by the “supervisory” bodies (the AC, ILOAT and the national courts) that should be there to protect you, invisible to the majority of the general public, ignored by most mainstream media and politicians, the subject of increasingly draconian rules imposed by EPO management, etc., etc. I would like to see how you coped with all of that!

About time you had treatment for your hypoempathy disorder, methinks.

If they ever go beyond the rules, they will get sacked. Battistelli is merciless and he makes “examples” out of people, even innocent people. Yet the same person persists with the idea of civil disobedience on Battistelli’s ‘production line’, where no anonymity is possible:

Not true.

BB certainly imposed some restrictions on striking but he did not prevent a strike being called if the staff really wanted it. There just has to be a strike ballot and the will to follow through.

Instead of striking, the staff has basically capitulated and even went so far as to churn out a 40% production increase.

While you are at it maybe you should ask the Appeal Boards what happened to their interview with an IP journal and why they voluntarily consented to be censored by BB?

Unless you can explain that one I don’t intend to go for any hypoempathy disorder treatment any time soon.

Someone clarified the rules even further:

Would that it were so simple.
“The President of the Office may lay down further terms and conditions for the application of this Article to all employees; these shall cover inter alia the maximum strike duration and the voting process”

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-epo-rules-on-strikes-revealed-to.html

Indeed, BB is not afraid of “outlawing” strikes for which the staff have voted (in spite the draconian rules).

http://www.worldipreview.com/news/anger-as-epo-president-rejects-latest-strike-6767

Looks like you will have to start that treatment after all…

You will also have to explain what you mean about the Boards of Appeal. The structure of the EPO means that issues with DG3 are different to those with DG1. So I am not quite sure what the relevance of DG3′s actions would be to the situation in DG1. Do let me know if I’m missing something, though.

The very notion of a boss rejecting a call for a strike is utterly ludicrous. Therein lies a key issue, yet some people insist that unless EPO workers resign or engage in “illegal” strikes which would cause dismissal, they are part of the problem.

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