12.01.21

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EPO Staff Committee Compares the Tactics of António Campinos to Benoît Battistelli’s

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

António Campinos and Benoît Battistell
António Campinos and Benoît Battistell, two Frenchmen who colluded to rig the process or game the system in order to seize power (and a lot of money)

Summary: The Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO talks about EPO President António Campinos, arguing that “he seems to subscribe to the Manichean view, introduced by Mr Battistelli…”

“We met with the President on 16 November 2021,” the CSC says in a new publication to staff (colleagues). So the representatives of staff have had the ‘privilege’ of speaking to Benoît Battistelli‘s heir in a webchat.

“Where’s the media, ignoring all this stuff (and staff) as usual, in favour of PR fluff?”“We addressed several topics,” they say, “amongst others the “New Ways of Working” [for António] (and the draft circular on teleworking), fixed-term contracts, the practical implementation of the reform of the education and childcare benefits… It was the last meeting of the year, which means time to look back at the consultation process in 2021.”

It seems odd that with 1.5 months left for the year this was the last such “meeting” (webchat). Can he not schedule a “meeting” with the representatives of staff every week? Is he really that busy? Is this guy truly a negotiator? Based on what? A bunch of fluff and puff pieces (maybe paid-for PR) in so-called “patent news sites”?

Anyway, displeasure ensued, as the headline suggests (an upfront give-away; “Not seeing the forest for the trees?”). Here’s the content of the publication as HTML:

Munich, 26/11/2021

sc21136cp

Report on the meeting with the President on 16 November 2021

Not seeing the forest for the trees?

Dear Colleagues,

We asked to put several topics on the agenda for this last meeting in 2021, which the President gracefully accepted.

New Ways of Working – Draft circular on teleworking
We explained that we welcomed the increased flexibility as regards the place from where staff would be allowed to work. However, we criticised the combination with other legal provisions, which would decrease flexibility for some staff.

We announced a last-chance proposal for improving the issues of core time and flexi-hours. In the meantime, our proposal has been published. The President wants to abolish the concept of core time. While some staff favour this, others are concerned about the full managerial discretion, which will replace the constraints and limits currently in place (but suspended with the “Emergency teleworking guidelines”) by other constraints to be solely set at the discretion of their line management. As regards flexi-hours, staff working on the Office premises are concerned that the current framework1 would oblige them to work a minimum of six hours (maximum of ten hours) per day, with further constraints on the working week. The abolition of accrual of flexi-hours would remove any possibility for staff to deviate from this framework and arrange their working time so as to have a “compressed” working week typically comprising four 10-hour days and one leave day, for instance. Also, flex-time has been used by many staff member to prolong a weekend or holiday by up to four leave days. These options will no longer be possible in the future.2

The President stressed that flexibility would remain, and that line managers would agree to let “their” staff go to the doctor when needed, for instance. The agreement would be based

_____________
1 See Article 3 of the Guidelines on arrangement for working hours, PART 4j CODEX). In a letter to the CSC received after the meeting the administration announced possible changes to the Guidelines on arrangement for working hours.
2 Indeed, the flexi-time system is use by many colleagues. For example in 2019, the Office registered over 24000 absence days based on flexi-time (source Social Report 2020)


on trust, fairness and maturity (to be expected from staff). He criticised that we would see only the “tree” but overlook the “forest”. He rejected any change on these topics but announced a lengthening of the period of notice (Article 7(5)) and an extension of the transitional measures to include staff having a child in a creche (Article 17).

Fixed-term contracts – Draft Circular 405?
We updated the President on the status of the work in the working group. We voiced our disappointment that no progress whatsoever has been made since June 2021. The administration still has not provided us with an amended Circular 405, even though five months have now passed. Also the next scheduled working group meeting foreseen to take place on Monday 22 November has been postponed.

During the meeting we further reiterated our requests for the new circular to ensure that they were clear to the President. We also pointed to our publications and the video we produced for EPO TV on the topic. We pointed out that one of the only points that the administration and staff representation had seemed to agree upon in the first working group meetings was inexplicably omitted from the draft circular. In response the President stated that a maximum of one contract extension would be possible under the new guidelines.

Presidential social agenda 2021 – Time to look back
We reminded that our points of interest expressed in January 2021 were essentially the same as in 20203: staff health and the conditions of employment for staff recruited after 2009 (e.g. a fair career system). None of these were addressed in 2021, with the exception of dealing with a pandemic. As to social dialogue, preparatory documents and data necessary for meaningful discussions in the Working Groups have been often missing or given at the very last minute, even in cases where they were clearly available earlier.

We specifically addressed Diversity & Inclusion. In particular, we requested an update of the “Gender Awareness report” dated February 2018, complemented with an in-depth study on “Equality in career”, as discussed during the WG last few meetings. The President stresses his engagement in this matter. Please refer to our separate publication “Diversity & Inclusion: an update” for further details.

Health & Safety Services
We again pointed to the issue of externalisation / reorganisation of Health & Safety Services, which we see with a very critical eye. The administration announced that an additional COHSEC meeting would deal with this matter4.

Education and Childcare allowance – Practical implementation
During the GCC on 6 July we had made the administration aware of the enormous financial burden put on colleagues having to pay school bills in advance (under Article 120a ServRegs).

_____________
3 See our publication “Social Agenda 2020” of 3 February 2020
4 Scheduled on 16 December


We requested a viable solution such that colleagues are not faced with huge amounts to pay in advance. The administration agreed and informed us that they were looking for a solution together with the schools as of the academic year 2022/2023. Furthermore, the President and the administration confirmed that the parents would be supported, e.g. by receiving the amounts in advance from the Office5.

Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) – Salary erosion as of 1 January 2022
As time was short, we only spoke briefly on this important topic, stressing that the SAP has already yielded savings for the Office which are much higher than those initially projected. We also stressed the difference between the exception clause at the Office and the clause in the EU, which is essentially a delayed payment. Again, the President was unimpressed.

Conclusion
As to social dialogue, some (not all) meetings with the administration take place in a positive atmosphere. However, our proposals very rarely find their way into the documents prepared by the administration. This being said, we welcome the fact that the President was ready to make some changes in the Circular on “New Ways of Working”, albeit to a very limited extent and actually too late6. Still, we believe that social dialogue as a whole does not work properly: the general tactic[s] adopted by the administration seem to be to almost systematically block our proposals until the President makes some last-minute concessions. This is, in our view, a waste of time and energy and results in legislation of lower quality.

Sometimes the President still seems interested in getting a favourable opinion in the GCC on his changes to the conditions of employment of staff. However, he seems to subscribe to the Manichean view, introduced by Mr Battistelli, that our opinions should be reduced to a ternary outcome, i.e. either “in favour”, “against” or abstaining7. We resist this simplistic approach: we see both the forest and the trees. We appreciate the advantages but also recognise the risks and disadvantages and we try to limit them. Our GCC opinions are drawn up accordingly.

The Central Staff Committee

_____________
5 In his own report on this meeting, the President announces that “[p]arents will pay their children’s direct education costs and request reimbursement from the Office” but he mentions in a later announcement that he is aware that “the single reimbursement procedure could potentially lead to a temporary financial strain for some parents during the interval – up to a few months – between paying fees to schools and receiving reimbursement from the Office.”
6 However, when changes are in favour of staff, we are ready not to insist on the time limit of 14 calendar days
set for submitting (amended) documents to the GCC.
7 See Article 38(3) ServRegs: “Following the consultation, the members of the General Consultative Committee shall express their opinion by voting at the meeting for or against each proposed measure or abstaining.”

So they say about Campinos that “he seems to subscribe to the Manichean view, introduced by Mr Battistelli, that our opinions should be reduced to ternary outcome, i.e. either “in favour”, “against” or abstaining” and “the general tactic[s] adopted by the administration seem to be to almost systematically block our proposals until the President makes some last-minute concessions. This is, in our view, a waste of time and energy and results in legislation of lower quality.”

Some master negotiator, eh? Where’s the media, ignoring all this stuff (and staff) as usual, in favour of PR fluff?

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