12.18.20

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Almost Half of Vienna-based EPO Staff Went on Strike This Past Week

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

First time in several years

A photo from EPO Vienna

Summary: A report on participation in the latest EPO strike, which is the first strike in years; it’s abundantly clear that in spite of many barriers (making it harder to go on strike) and risks associated with unemployment in these difficult times, as many as 1,448 employees have chosen to take direct action

THE unique situation Viennese EPO staff (or EPO staff based/stationed in Vienna) is in was mentioned here last month. The cuts are being implemented by António Campinos, who barely replaces departing/retiring staff. It is therefore not surprising that despite the risks (of reprisal) almost half of EPO staff there was on strike on December 15th.

“We’ve taken note of the fact that media across Europe did not mention this strike, despite it affecting Europe’s second-largest institution.”“On 15 December 2020,” the Central Staff Committee wrote, “according to the figures published by the Administration and despite strike registration being difficult for managers, 1.448 employees representing 22,6% of all staff participated in the strike. It is the highest result of an industrial action since 2016 and a clear signal to the President that there is room for improvement in terms of social peace.”

Here is the full letter:

Munich, 18.12.2020
sc20191cp – 0.2.1/0.3.2

2020, a striking year

Thanking you for your support

Dear colleagues,

Over the year 2020, EPO staff has shown to be resilient. The on-going Covid-19 pandemic has changed our work and our family life. EPO staff worked well and deserve to be thanked for going above and beyond in their efforts this year.

The participation in the General Assemblies on the 19th November (ca. 2000 attendees combined from Munich and The Hague) and the numerous Virtual Floor Meetings (ca. 2100 attendees overall) showed the desire of staff to gather again in live events and their interest in what is going on in the Office. We called on you to make your views on the recent reforms known in emails to the President and VP4, and you answered. We found your words stirring and felt it necessary to move forward with additional actions.

The decision to call for strike did not come easily because staff have already given a lot this year to maintain business continuity and to meet their ever-increasing objectives. However, the reluctance of management to acknowledge any discontent at the EPO forced us to resort to strike as a means of last resort.

On 15 December 2020, according to the published figures and despite strike registration being difficult for managers, 1.448 employees representing 22,6% of all staff participated in the strike, including 28% of staff in The Hague, 17% of staff in Munich, 39% of staff in Berlin, and 46% of staff in Vienna. It is the highest result of an industrial action since 2016 and a clear signal to the President that there is room for improvement in terms of social peace.

We asked you to support us and many of you supported us. We thank all those who participated in the proposed actions.

In his season’s greetings, Mr Campinos announced his decision to offer one week of additional holidays for the first week 2021, and for that we thank him. We are now looking forward to next year to tackle with him the concerns of staff thanks to the strong mandate you gave us.

Since this might be the last publication of your staff representatives this year, we take the opportunity to wish you all a relaxing break and a happy new year!

Sincerely yours,

Your Central Staff Committee

Readers are asked to remember that many of these employees are working from home; this further complicates a classic strike action. Office management was quick to exploit the pandemic to stifle the previously planned strike action, which coincided with lock-downs across Europe.

EPO Vienna“We are now looking forward to next year to tackle with the President the concerns of staff thanks to the strong mandate you gave us,” the representatives concluded. “In the meantime, we take the opportunity to wish you all a relaxing break and a happy new year!”

We’ve taken note of the fact that media across Europe did not mention this strike, despite it affecting Europe’s second-largest institution. It did, however, publish a bunch of reputation-laundering fluff for Office management.

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