10.28.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

EPO Home-Working (or ‘Remote’ Working or ‘Teleworking’) Isn’t an Act of Generosity But of Exploitation

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 8b72e815e3b2e6f31c87a271c530e4c0

Summary: Contrary to what staff may be led to believe, allowing folks to work from home is just a workaround (as the law forbids some human-to-human contact/interaction) and pretext for screwing the workers a little bit more while crushing basic rights, such as strike and protest abilities (exercising or expressing dissent)

LAST year Europe went into “lock-down”, so we wrote many articles about the EPO‘s workers being forced to work from home (it was imperative, not a choice). To many of these people it’s not even home because they work outside their country of origin, having sometimes taken their family with them (to a country with a foreign language they cannot speak and where they cannot work).

“Once it is no longer a requirement or an expectation to have a physical, central office with staff in it the alluring/seductive prospects of sending the jobs overseas are seriously being considered.”I’ve personally worked from home for many years, so the subject is close to my heart. And let me say it bluntly to EPO stuff: you’re being robbed and exploited. The way this thing was implemented favours the monopolies and their “moles” inside the EPO’s management; it has barely improved things for patent examiners in any meaningful way, only shallow ways. And now the EPO is hiring people at 3-5 less in terms of salary. It opened things up to outsourcing — the very same thing which happened in the technology sector because of the Internet. Once it is no longer a requirement or an expectation to have a physical, central office with staff in it the alluring/seductive prospects of sending the jobs overseas are seriously being considered. It’s about lowering salaries. IBM is one example of it. That’s the best known example in the sector I work for, even predating the pandemic.

“From an organisational point of view, they’re making unionisation and protesting harder.”Setting all that aside, they’re taking away basic benefits (sick leave, days off) based on the false premise that home-working is a gift (it’s not “remote” when one works from one’s own home, so “remote working” is misleading — that’s just a misnomer which makes staff feel inadequate). Think about it for a moment or two; getting people to work from midnight to 5am in the name of “flexibility” (without paying another hourly rate for the exceptional hours worked) is a regression — one that isn’t beneficial to staff’s mental fulfilment and occupational health, never mind domestic life and family relations. It can lead to more confrontation, distraction, etc.

From an organisational point of view, they’re making unionisation and protesting harder. They keep workers isolated and thus too helpless and too disorganised to exercise collective action (or bargaining). They’re typically lowering salaries (excuses like, “you don’t need to drive anymore”), asking for more working hours (with “commuting” time leveraged as a fig leaf), and while they’re reducing expenses spent on staff (e.g. canteen) they’re not passing the savings to staff but to stock market speculations (which reward corrupt management). In short, while it may seem (on the thin surface) like a win-win for workers, in practice the management is increasing the extraction (e.g. hours spent on actual work) whilst imposing even more spying, refusing to increase salaries (to keep up with inflation at the very least), and possibly even taking things like pensions away, as shown above in the video. They’re trading one thing for another.

“They’re trading one thing for another.”The EPO’s management did not decide to let staff work off-site because of generosity; they must work remotely to comply with the law anyway and instead of letting workers relax for a bit (the EPO has a large cash pile anyhow, so it can afford this) the management wants to grant more patents, including notorious vaccine patents — in effect a privatisation of work funded by the taxpayers.

In the video I use the example of a breakfast (spontaneously, so not a great analogy); the point is, they don’t really give the staff true choice in answering. By picking one seemingly desirable option (not your own choice; you only get to pick a number) you take up to 5 other “poison pills” that come ‘bundled’ with that false choice. It’s a rather farcical survey, but that’s what one might — perhaps even should — come to expect as we noted yesterday and earlier today.

“By picking one seemingly desirable option (not your own choice; you only get to pick a number) you take up to 5 other “poison pills” that come ‘bundled’ with that false choice.”As a side note, sometimes people ask me about my accent and I need to remind them there’s no “English accent” per se but loads of them, even more so in Britain (than AU/NZ/CA/SA/US). I try to stick to an accent that maximises clarity, without swallowing words or parts of words. To give a simple example and a very common 5-letter name, some people over here say “Peter” with rhotic R, albeit most people without rhotic R (except in parts of the south and Northern Ireland), some swallow the R completely, some swallow the T as well (“pi-ha”), so the name can be pronounced in many totally legitimate way albeit the last form of it obsures most of it. The same is true for the word “butter”, which some just read out as “ba-ha”. I try very hard to avoid all that as it’s almost a dialect of its own.

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