11.20.20

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Inside the EPO During Corona: Managers Don’t Think of the Children, Cut Their Budget for First Time in Half a Century

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not what staff signed up for when joining the Office, relocating to another country along with family members

Chair/authority
What comes next? Who faces the next round of cuts?

Baby: What comes nextSummary: The systematic attack on staff’s rights and welfare shows no signs of stopping; the so-called ‘president’, who isn’t even showing up for meetings with staff, has turned Europe’s second-largest institution from cash cow into a cash laundering apparatus that eats its own workers

THE management of the EPO continues to crush the staff to amass more money to gamble with (for personal gain). This is a crime. Textbook definition of looting, class warfare, or trickle-up effect (taking from the poor and/or the working class to enrich those who are already very rich). Europe’s reputation is in trouble/peril when its second-largest institution, in effect a monopoly, acts no better than the Mafia (it’s just presented in a more positive light owing to complicit, supine and sometimes bribed media).

The EPO is ruining health, relationships and even whole families. With a pandemic raging the EPO’s management doubles down on that objective, leveraging the worst possible time to implement further oppressive sanctions.

“With a pandemic raging the EPO’s management doubles down on that objective, leveraging the worst possible time to implement further oppressive sanctions.”As recently as yesterday we published a copy of this document in English [PDF] about consultation regarding allowances for kids. Office staff might be getting a new chair, but the big benefits are going away because António Campinos robs the staff while Benoît Battistelli et al steal EPO budget by gambling it away.

Here they go again:

Since the official announcements of 24 and 30 July 2020, the staff representation has received an impressive number of reactions from staff, confirming that the planned Education and Childcare Reform is a sensitive topic affecting our families and colleagues.

The President has revised the initial timeline: his aim is now to present a new scheme to the Budget and Finance Committee in May 2021 and the Administrative Council in June 2021. The President has already decided of his own volition to implement measures related to school children (aged 4 to the finalisation of secondary schools) for the school year 2022-2023. He has also announced that the timetable for implementing measures for other categories of children will be finalised in the course of the working-group discussions.

Our scheme goes back to that of the Co-ordinated Organisations since 1977 and has been amended over time, either to improve the benefits or to extend eligibility to other categories of staff. For the first time in the history of the EPO, a President has tabled a proposal that will reduce the overall budget and will have a very negative impact on some of those eligible to date. It will thus have an impact on the attendance and capacity of schools currently in use.

For these reasons, and in order to formulate an opinion and prepare counter-proposals, the staff representation believes than an in-depth financial and social impact study is necessary. Postponement will give more time for this.

The full sheet contains some of the same paragraphs and reads as follows:

Munich 03.09.2020
sc20127cp – 0.2.1/4.2.2

Education and Childcare Reform Moving ahead

Since the official announcements of 24 and 30 July 2020, the staff representation has received an impressive number of reactions from staff, confirming that the planned Education and Childcare Reform is a sensitive topic affecting our families and colleagues.

The staff representation was involved in a Working Group only once within the framework of a meeting with the administration which took place on 21 July. We received the supportive documents on 17 July, only one working day before the meeting. Our report on that meeting can be found here.

Timeline for consultation / implementation

The original timeline foresaw the submission of a final proposal for opinion to the General Consultative Committee on the 1st of October and for decision to the Administrative Council in December 2020. This would have left minimal or no margins for discussions.

The President revised the timeline: it was announced on 30 July 2020 that “[t]he aim is now to present a new scheme to the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) in May 2021 and the Administrative Council in June 2021”. The staff representation welcomes this move as it will give more time to perform a complete impact study.

The President has already decided of his own volition that “measures related to school children (aged 4 to the finalisation of secondary schools) will be implemented for the school year 2022-2023”. He has also announced that ”[t]he timetable for implementing measures for other categories of children will be finalised in the course of the working group discussions”.

Impact study

Our education allowance scheme goes back to that of the Co-ordinated Organisations since 1977 and has been amended over time (see CA/D 6/80, CA/D 13/84, CA/D 2/98 and CA/D 10/02), either to improve the benefits or to extend eligibility to other categories of staff. For the first time in the history of the EPO, a President has tabled a proposal that will reduce the overall budget and will have a very negative impact on some of those eligible to date. It will thus have an impact on the attendance and capacity of schools currently in use. Furthermore, in the past, when the scheme was amended, a survey was conducted at the request of the General Advisory Committee (GAC) to estimate the annual costs of the proposed amendments (see e.g. CA/88/84).

For these reasons, and in order to formulate an opinion and prepare counter-proposals, the staff representation believes than an in-depth financial and social impact study is necessary.

Your Central Staff Committee

So there’s still no genuine dialogue at the Office; everything is being sold away, outsourced, sabotaged, looted. The so-called ‘president’ cannot be bothered to listen to staff and definitely won’t incorporate any of the representation’s suggestions.

Less than a week after the above publication was issued the so-called ‘president’ couldn’t even bother attending the meeting, citing health reasons (going to work without a mask and without socially distancing oneself from colleagues can lead to that).

The Central Staff Committee circulated the following letter/report:

Munich 15.09.2020
sc20136cp – 0.2.1

Non-meeting on 9 September

Dear colleagues,

The President had scheduled a meeting with the CSC on 9 September. The meeting took indeed place but, to our surprise, without the President, who could not attend for health reasons. We wish him a speedy recovery here. Instead Ms Seegert chaired the meeting. The meeting started with a human touch, with new colleagues Mr Andreas Sattler and Mr Kwai Hong Ip introducing themselves. We welcome them and wish them every success in their new positions.

We first asked to address the rewards exercise in 2020.
In our view, issues remain as in the previous exercises: gender-related discrimination, handling sick leave, part-time, covert restriction for promotion, excessive focus on production, unpredictability and opaqueness in attributing (collaborative) bonuses. PD43 (and VP1) explained that we were all wrong but that the exercise was keeping improving1. We now hope that the extra effort of staff in corona times will be decently rewarded next year. We reiterated our request for receiving the statistical data on the distribution of the rewards as already requested in written form.

The President had proposed further agenda items:

Reform of the composition of the Appeals Committee

A dedicated working group chaired by Ms Seegert herself had met twice on this topic. This was enough to arrive at irreconcilable positions as regards the eligibility of staff to sit on the Appeals Committee2. The President had already decided before the meeting to adjourn the reform sine die).

New Normal

We asked for meaningful involvement at an early stage and to be included in the New Normal taskforce, since the New Normal will have a huge impact on the whole organization and thus

_______
1 For more details, everyone can read the President’s announcement on the Intranet.
2 Essentially as regard the criterion for eligibility. Presently only elected staff representatives can be appointed on the ApC. In future, the Office would like to allow only staff without any appeal pending to sit as members on the ApC.


a huge impact on all staff. The Administration repeated their previous position that the consultation of the Staff Representation will take place after they will have defined their policy on what New Normal should look. The Administration further announced that they would launch an online survey soon3. We would have liked to ask again personally the President to be involved early enough to contribute to sketching the big picture. Being involved in the preparation of a survey was standard even in the Battistelli era.

Education and Childcare Reform

We repeated what we had already published online. At least the President’s decision to postpone the reform has one good side: it will give more time for an in-depth financial and social impact study. The working group will meet again on 22 September, hopefully with enough information to start moving forward on this topic. To this end we requested additional statistical data by site, schools and educational stages.

Conclusion

Ms Seegert concluded by thanking all for the “constructive” meeting. We for our part cannot help but think that the meeting was largely unsuccessful.
On a more hopeful note: the President used to start discussing with us with the motto: “let us meet in the middle of the bridge”. This presupposes that we actually meet and talk. The next CSC meeting with the President is currently scheduled on 18 November, in 2020…

Your CSC

_______
3 By the time this report is out, the survey might even be ongoing.

The next meeting was due two days ago, but there’s no ‘spoiler’ yet.

Either way, it seems abundantly clear and apparent there’s nobody to talk to at the Office. They just keep crushing the staff whilst only ever pretending that staff agrees to that. No wonder there’s no recruitment ongoing and quality of everything (staff welfare, staff experience, patents) rapidly decreases. To the point where European software patents are becoming ‘acceptable’, even if they’re against the law and actual courts reject those. We’ll say more about such patents in our next post.

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