12.12.19

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The EPO’s Strategic Failure 2023

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

 

EPO FLIER No. 49

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Part 1: Potemkin social dialogue

By electing Mr Campinos to become the seventh EPO President, the Council gave him the mandate to renew social dialogue and ease tensions between management and staff1. But Mr Campinos has failed to restore social dialogue2. Even worse, the first reporting exercise3 under the new president marked new lows of fairness and respect for the staff4. And since the president published his Financial Study5 and planned 17 Financial Measures6, the tensions have increased.

Building trust in management decisions?

The 2019 staff survey revealed that only 16% of EPO employees have confidence in senior management decisions (the European benchmark is 66%). The Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023) wants to build confidence in top management decisions by explaining them through more effective communication (Goal 1, Key Iniative 5).

The president’s frequent announcements have indeed a friendly tone. But explaining bad decisions with nice words and continuously repeating his own point-of-view is not enough. The decisions must become better, they must provide solutions which work, and solve problems which exist.

Bypassing the staff representation

The president had one-to-one meetings with more than 1000 staff members. But despite this effort, the staff survey showed that 63% of the employees still think that too little is done to get the opinion of staff. When decisions are taken, the staff representation is still not involved, and staff opinion and concerns are not duly considered. Pretending to listen is not enough. Staff wants decisions to be prepared through discussions with the elected staff committees. Decisions must be based on facts instead of a “compromise” derived from the administration’s unrealistic assumptions.

Despite the president’s frequent declarations that he wants “mature and constructive social dialogue” and “effective partnership with staff representatives and unions”7, he disregarded the CSC’s input8 to his Strategic Plan. Consultation in the General Consultative Committee (GCC) is fake, since the members of the management have no mandate to negotiate9. The planned 17 Financial Measures were developed in secrecy10. When publishing them, the president surprised the CSC as much as the other staff9. When staff representatives pointed out that the Financial Study contained many contradictions, the president replied “I don’t care, I will go ahead anyway.”11

Mr Campinos has copied the strategy for social dialogue from Mr Battistelli. He avoids considering contributions from staff committees and unions. He instead follows the bad example of his predecessor and prepares decisions by discussions in “focus groups” consisting of volunteers being hand-picked by management. Mr Campinos recently added a new class of ‘social communicators’. The team managers were asked to collect feedback from staff on the planned 17 Financial Measures, filter it, and forward it to the management12. The calculation is to bypass2 the elected staff committees, and to split13 the staff, since the Financial Measures affect different groups of employees in different ways.

Conclusions

After more than 20 months of President Campinos, there is still no genuine social dialogue9,14. Bypassing the staff committees is part of the president’s strategy. He thereby undermines staff’s right of being democratically represented. And by doing this in an environment where 58% of staff feel that it is not safe to speak up, while only 27% do15, he fosters a culture of fear2.

The president has prepared his 17 Financial Measures – “the biggest attacks ever”6 on our careers and pensions – in secrecy, without involving or even informing the staff representation. Although the president has conceded that there is no necessity to act now16, during the discussions in the working group on Financial Measures, his representatives stick to the dogma of a € 5.8 billion coverage gap17.

The president’s bold statement in his Strategic Plan that the EPO will “encourage social dialogue in all of its forms”18 and his regular updates7 on social dialogue are mere Potemkin villages.

________

3 “’Rat race 3.0’ Part I: Staff Reporting in the New Career System (NCS) – Total mayhem” (SUEPO The Hague, 01.03.2019, see R.I.P. Kat…)

4 EPO FLIER No. 47 Reporting below the belt (03.06.2019)

5 CA/46/19 “Financial Study” and “The Financial Study: Yet another hoax”, parts 1 to 4 (CSC, May – June 2019)

6 “The President’s ‘Publication of Financial Measures’” (CSC, 07.10.2019)

7 Presidential announcement “Social dialogue – My vision” and updates of 04.06.2019, 19.07.2019 and 18.10.2019

8 Open letter “Strategic plan – Input of the CSC” (CSC, 25.01.2019) with contributions to the Strategic Plan

9 Transcript of the staff General Assembly in Rijswijk on 10.10.2019

10 “Report on the demonstration of 23 October 2019” (SUEPO Munich, 28.10.2019)

11 “ACTIONS RESUME – DEMONSTRATION – Wednesday 23 October” (SUEPO Munich, 17.10.2019, see R.I.P. Kat…)

12 This measure also sidelines the directors, whose number shall be reduced by about 50% in the coming years, as recently announced; see Communiqué 03/19 “Adjustments to our organisational structure” (08.10.2019)

13 “The Financial Survey: A divisive exercise” (SUEPO Munich, 06.11.2019)

14 “The President’s Update on Social Dialogue or The battle of the communiqués” (CSC, 09.10.2019)

15 EPO staff survey: concerns about quality, low confidence in management, lack of respect (Kluwer Patent blogger, 07.04.2019)

16 “Different views on the ‘Interview on Financial Study’” (CSC, 29.10.2019)

17 “Report on the second meeting of the WG Financial Measures” (CSC, 02.12.2019)

18 SP2023, Goal 1, Key Initiative 6

 

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