02.21.21

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, February 20, 2021

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Series Index: How António Campinos Resorted to Union-Busting

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Master's voice/His master's voice: Battistelli Era, Campinos Era

Summary: An overview of this month’s events inside the EPO

THE following posts have been published here since Friday. Today we close this mini series, but here’s a chronological index:

There will definitely be further developments (such as statements) soon.

For the Record: SUEPO’s Correspondence With ‘King’ António Campinos

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Contrary to what “Orange Man” says, the staff union told staff the truth and does not need to apologise to anyone (let alone retract any statements)

THE STAFF Union of the EPO (SUEPO) has been doing a very fine job for at least a decade. We’ve seen many SUEPO publications. They’re all polite and courteous. They’re professional. Unlike Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, who end up shouting at people to compensate for their incompetence and insecurity (temper issues are associated with low self-esteem or a lack of self control, which is a weakness, not a strength).

“Don’t believe the lies from Campinos. SUEPO told the truth.”Many EPO insiders, some of whom have spent decades of their lives working for the EPO, yearn for the days the Office was run by competent individuals, appointed based on their skills rather than based on their connections. And who can blame them? In my personal experience, scientists always prefer to be managed by scientists because if the manager understands the staff (on a technical level) there’s decreased chance of misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, and workplace harassment (typically hiding from an inherent disconnect). The poison inside the Office — some say “cancer” or “tumour” (yes, EPO staff habitually uses those exact words as analogies) — is a cabal of people who don’t know what the heck they’re doing. They want the public to think that scattering or pouring out there a growing batch of low-quality patents (i.e. unjustified monopolies) is “success” or “growth” or “production” (remember that monopolies and manufacturing are profoundly different things, which mustn’t be conflated or mistaken one for the other). This wheelbarrow of papers does no good for Europe. That much has been repeatedly demonstrated by scholars across Europe (at least those not corrupted by EPO bribes).

EPO queenTechrights strongly and categorically supports SUEPO. Everything we’ve been seeing from SUEPO is consistent with sincere commitment to EPO staff, even at personal risk at times (and collectively a risk to one’s family).

Don’t believe the lies from Campinos. SUEPO told the truth. SUEPO did what it promised to do for its members. It informed them. Battistelli tried really hard to demonise SUEPO (comparing them to “Nazis” and violent things like “snipers”), but tribunals outside the EPO repeatedly sided with SUEPO. Because they had the opportunity to examine actual evidence (or a lack of it).

To end this series we’d like to post (for the public record) the full correspondence from and to SUEPO. The person in charge of SUEPO handles the situation calmly, unlike the ‘wicked witch’ who is rumoured to be behind these repressive/oppressive actions (not the first situation of this kind).

First, here’s the message sent by Campinos to not only caution SUEPO but basically threaten SUEPO (notice the use or misuse of the English language, torturing words like “management” to say “colleagues” instead, even when referring to just one individual).

It is dated 10 Feb 2021.

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

To the Chairman of SUEPO Central

via email: xxxxxxxxxxx

Date: 10.02.2021

SUEPO publication of 4 February 2021 ‘Salary Adjustment Procedure 2020: Loss of Head in Directorate Compensation & Benefits’

Dear Mr Chair,

On 4 February, SUEPO published a letter regarding the situation of one of our colleagues and their line manager.

It is abundantly clear that red lines have been crossed in this publication. It constitutes not just an attack on two of our colleagues, but also on the values of the Office and all its staff. I am therefore writing to inform you of the gravity with which this publication – and your decision to publish it – is now being treated.

First and foremost, it is our assessment that the letter questions the ethics and integrity of one of our colleagues, merely for representing and expressing the views of the Office in joint meetings. I would like to underline, that whatever communication efforts or tactics are made by a union in the pursuit of its goals, we, as an Office, will not accept actions that have a detrimental effect on the dignity or reputation of any individual staff member. Moreover, in taking this approach in this latest publication, SUEPO is creating a climate in which colleagues may be fearful of public attack, simply for faithfully executing their professional duties.

Secondly, the letter publicly implies by insinuation that the management is responsible for the colleague’s situation. Not only is this categorically untrue, and even libellous, it is an attack on the reputation of the entire organisation, its professionalism and its values.

I accept fully that during the course of our duties, we can naturally expect different views, and even criticisms. You will be very much aware that staff representation and unions enjoy a wider freedom of expression in this respect. Encouraging such a plurality of views is what makes our organisation stronger. It ensures that the views of all our colleagues are heard and that we can try to move forward as a more cohesive Office.

However, like with any other freedom, there are boundaries. As already stated by the Tribunal, “any action that impairs the dignity of the international civil service, and likewise gross abuse of freedom of speech, are inadmissible”. As international civil servants, we are expected to provide the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity. In our organisation we also adhere to the standards of respect, dignity, and tolerance, especially given the different backgrounds, profiles and nationalities which all constitute part of the richness of our organisation.

I have also repeated on several occasions the specific importance of trust, fairness and mutual respect, especially in social dialogue. And finally, from our own Service Regulations, “an employee shall at all times treat others, inside and outside the European Patent Organisation (…) with professional respect and discretion”. This means not only respect for others as human beings, but also respect for their functions and for their professionalism.

For all the reasons above, your publication has clearly crossed a number of critical boundaries. You will understand that as a public organisation, the Office must take every measure to protect its staff and its reputation. I am therefore writing to request that SUEPO makes a public retraction of its letter, removes the letter of 4 February from its website and issues a letter of apology to the two colleagues concerned, by 15 February 2021.

Following these measures, we will be able to continue a constructive working relationship, and to work on the issues that we have started to address. As you are well aware, in times of pandemic, it is even more important to be strong together and to act within the basic fundamental principles of decency, politeness and respect.

Yours sincerely,

xxxxx

Just like in ’1984′ (the book), they ask staff to remove truthful information and then, moreover, apologise (to those whom they said the truth about). The EPO did this to me several times via aggressive law firms, which they wasted EPO budget on. If that’s not bad enough, they claim to respect some sorts of values which they clearly violate (nepotism is one manifestation of that) and talk about respect in the same way Code of Conduct proponents do (wherein only those at the top are shielded from the rules they wield, so it’s an asymmetric power relation, favouring the enforcers). They speak of the “reputation of our organisation” as if management itself isn’t the culprit; to them, those who point out what’s going on are the real issue. They never had “genuine and constructive dialogue” as they merely listen (or barely listen) but never take into account, let alone implement, any proposals from staff representatives. They say they wish to “protect all colleagues from such public attacks” while weaponising Dutch and German media to defame judges, notably Judge Corcoran. The immense hypocrisy and the double-standards to be noted in this letter are seemingly endless. We could go on and on…

SUEPO’s letter dated 14 Feb 2021:

14 February 2021
su21005cl – 0.3.1

To: Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO
ISAR–Room 1081

Your letter of 10 Feb concerning SUEPO publication of 4 February 2021 ‘Salary Adjustment Procedure 2020: Loss of Head in Directorate Compensation & Benefits’

Dear Mr President,

In your letter you raise concerns regarding the SUEPO publication of 4 February 2021 published on the internal SUEPO website. We were surprised by the tone of your letter and the assertion that red lines have been crossed.

Following receipt of your letter we have reviewed our publication, but are unable to find any passage which in our opinion is factually wrong or would even go beyond the freedom of speech and the freedom of association.

Therefore, in order to clarify the situation, we would like to ask you to indicate those particular passages which raised your concerns.

We are ready for an open dialogue on this issue as soon as possible, at the latest in our meeting scheduled for 24 February 2021.

Yours sincerely,

xxxxxxxx

Chairman of SUEPO Central

Campinos to SUEPO on 16 Feb 2021 (same day he publicly shamed them in the Office intranet and simultaneously sought to drive a wedge between SUEPO and the CSC):

Date: 16.02.2021

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

To the Chairman of SUEPO Central

via email: xxxxxxxxxx

RE: Request to retract SUEPO publication of 4 February 2021 ‘Salary Adjustment Procedure 2020: Loss of Head in Directorate Compensation & Benefits’

Dear Mr Chair,

On 10 February, I wrote to you to request that SUEPO retracts a letter it published on 4 February. As you will recall, your public letter concerned the situation of one of our colleagues and their line manager.

Following that publication, I urged you respectfully to retract the statement because it had, very clearly, crossed a number of red lines in attacking the professionalism and reputation of our mutual colleagues and also the reputation of the Office. It included claims that are not just categorically untrue, they could also be considered libellous. However, I also underlined that we would be able to continue normal working relations were you willing to retract the statement by 15 February at the latest.

With your letter of 14 February 2021, besides a proposal to discuss the topic during a meeting on 24 February 2021, we have only received a request for clarification, even though my original letter to you explained in no uncertain terms the nature of the problem. We are convinced that SUEPO is fully aware of the problematic aspects of the publication, and the damaging effects it would have on our colleagues and on the reputation of our organisation.

We are therefore disappointed to see that there has been no visible or meaningful attempt to retract the statement, or apologise to the colleagues concerned. To the contrary, SUEPO has shown its willingness to attack in public colleagues who partake in social dialogue of any kind, whether with the CSC or with SUEPO itself.

As you must be aware, it is our duty to protect all colleagues from such public attacks. I have therefore asked our services to implement a period of three months from 16 February during which all social dialogue with SUEPO will be carried out by written exchange only. The Office will therefore not be fielding representatives to meet with SUEPO either in person or online during this period. At the end of the three months the decision will be reviewed.

Despite the necessity to take this measure, the Office remains committed to pursuing a genuine and constructive dialogue. Our colleagues throughout the EPO expect us to make progress on social dialogue as quickly and as constructively as possible – but also do so in an atmosphere of respect and professionalism.

Yours sincerely

xxxxxxx

CSC letters were published in a previous part.

EPO Crisis Under António Campinos – Part 5: Quo Usque Tandem?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:48 am by Guest Editorial Team

Previously in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | More background: Latest French Hire of Battistelli Rumoured to be After EPO Workers’ Pensions | Le Guern Leaves the EPO After Attacks on Staff’s (and Pensioners’) Finances Amid Pandemic

AC patience

Summary: “For how much longer, António, will you abuse our patience?”

With his message of 16 February on the Office intranet the EPO President António Campinos did his best to convey the impression that his most immediate and pressing concern was for the welfare of Mr Le Guern and that his sole desire was to protect the latter from “attacks” by SUEPO.

However, nobody at the EPO is fooled by this patently transparent humbug.

EPO insiders have no doubt that Campinos’ actions were primarily aimed at providing “aid and comfort” to the controversial and hugely unpopular HR Principal Director, Elodie Bergot.

“However, nobody at the EPO is fooled by this patently transparent humbug.”Techrights readers need no reminding that – together with her hubby Gilles Requena – Bergot was one of the key enablers of “Team Battistelli”.

After Battistelli‘s departure Bergot was retained by Campinos as an apparent act of loyalty to his former mentor and “patron”, the controversial deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

In two Judgments delivered in June 2018 the ILOAT found Bergot guilty of masterminding a witch-hunt conducted against SUEPO officials, one of whom was unlawfully dismissed from his position and the other who was unlawfully downgraded.

In August 2020 Bergot received another official rebuke – this time from the EPO Internal Appeals Committee – for unlawful acts of censorship against the elected Central Staff Committee in 2016.

On that occasion the EPO Internal Appeals Committee, chaired by former UK Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Paul Mahoney, confirmed that staff representatives are at liberty to criticise the EPO’s policies and actions – even sharply and robustly – as long as the language used is not injurious or defamatory.

“In August 2020 Bergot received another official rebuke – this time from the EPO Internal Appeals Committee – for unlawful acts of censorship against the elected Central Staff Committee in 2016.”According to Sir Paul and his Committee, this is a perfectly legitimate manifestation of “the political jousting between management and staff bodies that is part and parcel of the life of a healthy International Organisation”.

The Appeals Committee emphasised that it is essential for staff members to have knowledge of the various positions discussed between EPO management and the Staff Committee on matters of general interest for staff. This ensures that EPO management can be exposed to a degree of accountability to staff in relation to policy decisions affecting them.

It’s as plain as the proverbial pikestaff that there are no plausible grounds to justify censorship of the SUEPO communiqué of 4 February 2021.

SUEPO was doing nothing more than informing its members of matters which are of general interest to them, namely the administration of “Compensation and Benefits” at the EPO and the current HR shenanigans in that department.

Apart from that, Campinos – a PR savvy individual who promotes himself as a “child of the Carnation Revolution” – seems to be keen on avoiding the negative publicity which would be likely to result from an association with the kind of strong-arm totalitarian techniques which were Battistelli’s hallmark.

“With his message of 16 February Campinos has nailed his colours firmly to the mast and has made it clear whose side he is on.”So under the given circumstances the only option open to Bergot and Campinos is to resort to their current “Punch & Judy Show” tactics. These consist of falsely accusing SUEPO of “attacking the professionalism and reputation of our mutual colleagues and also the reputation of the Office” and demanding an unconditional retraction and apology.

With his message of 16 February Campinos has nailed his colours firmly to the mast and has made it clear whose side he is on.

But it remains unclear what exactly he hopes to accomplish by rallying to the defence of Bergot whose fitness for the senior managerial position which she holds is likely to remain in question no matter how strongly and vigorously he protests to the contrary.

All that Campinos appears to have achieved here is to cement his reputation inside the EPO as a pusillanimous and ineffectual chief executive – who is incidentally rumoured to suffer from serious substance abuse issues.

Rather than attempting to tackle the problems facing the EPO and to promote genuine and meaningful “social dialogue” between management and staff Campinos has revealed himself to be living in the shadow of his former mentor and “patron”, Battistelli. He seems to be utterly incapable of shaking off the insidious legacy of cronyism and favouritism which he had inherited from that quarter.

“All that Campinos appears to have achieved here is to cement his reputation inside the EPO as a pusillanimous and ineffectual chief executive – who is incidentally rumoured to suffer from serious substance abuse issues.”Only time will tell whether or not Campinos will end up regretting his decision to back what is obviously the wrong horse in the present dispute.

But for the moment one thing is clear: the current controversy has once again demonstrated the precarious and perilous state of “social dialogue” at the EPO.

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