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EPO Bought ‘Elections’ and What That Means to Staff (When Bribery is the ‘New Normal’)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flash report on the demonstration of Wednesday 29 June 2022
The Battistelli era never ended. See the full letter below (as text).

Summary: Obscene corruption in Europe’s second-largest institution is receiving the blind eye from national representatives, who are themselves an active part of this corruption; the EPO’s reappointed dictator is already attacking union representatives, just like Battistelli did; “You are not important for this Organization. Move on,” he said to Brumme

THE EPO‘s ‘elections’ have been utterly rigged for at least 12 years; Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos basically bought their terms in EUIPO and EPO (cooperation money and similar budget/graft as bribes at these institutions’ expense). We published a whole series about this subject. We are all paying for this corruption; they do this at our expense.

This is part of a longstanding pattern. We see this in Team UPC, too. Criminality is regarded as “normal” or acceptable. This goes beyond reason.

“This is part of a longstanding pattern.”Getting fees in exchange for granting lots of patents (monopolies) is in some sense a form of bribery. EPO threw out the EPC and decided to maximise monopoly-granting (even fake and invalid patents such as European software patents) in exchange for bribes from many foreign corporations looking to eliminate competition in Europe.

The following new publication states that: “On the agenda of the Council was the “Mobility Package” introducing seconded national experts posts for the delegations. They will benefit from their national salary paid by the EPO and an allowance of +€5.000 per month. A handful of EPO employees (from high management?) will be seconded to national offices while continuing to earn their full EPO salary without performing any work for the EPO. The document was approved by the Council with only one vote against from Croatia concerned that non-EPO employees would participate in the work of Search and Examining Divisions.”

Does this look normal to anyway?

Here’s the full pamphlet:

su22005mp – 0.2.1/0.3.2/0.2.2

Flash report on the demonstration of Wednesday 29 June 2022

“The re-election package”

On Wednesday 29 June, 180 colleagues demonstrated in front of the Isar building shortly after the start of the 171th session of the Administrative Council. Currently, many staff members are on holidays or teleworking far from Munich. The occupancy of EPO buildings is low. On average, the caterer serves 400 meals per day in the Pschorrhöfe buildings and 100 in the Isar building.

Mr Campinos did not authorise EPO staff to demonstrate on the Office ground and was pushed away on the street. Greenpeace, who demonstrated earlier in the morning, was actually granted a better treatment. The events confirm that for Mr Campinos, EPO staff does not count.

On the agenda of the Council was the “Mobility Package” introducing seconded national experts posts for the delegations. They will benefit from their national salary paid by the EPO and an allowance of +€5.000 per month. A handful of EPO employees (from high management?) will be seconded to national offices while continuing to earn their full EPO salary without performing any work for the EPO. The document was approved by the Council with only one vote against from Croatia concerned that non-EPO employees would participate in the work of Search and Examining Divisions.

The reform was conveniently tabled at a time the re-election of Mr Campinos was on the agenda. This generous package successfully guaranteed his re-election until 1 July 2028 decided in the confidential session of the afternoon. The newly extended President celebrated the news with the delegates in the evening. The following day, the atmosphere in the Council was very relaxed and the delegations thanked him for the party. The Spanish delegation even referred to a “terrific night”. We wonder whether the carbon footprint of the party will make it to the EPO Environmental Report 2022.

SUEPO hopes that the Council mandated Mr Campinos to faithfully conduct social dialogue from now on. The first signs are however not encouraging. Just after his re-election, Mr Campinos rescheduled the GCC meeting of 5 July in order to reduce its duration from 1.30h down to 1.00h. Three topics are on the agenda among which the controversial project “Bringing Teams Together” initiated without any involvement of the staff representation.

Given the track record of Mr Campinos in terms of cuts on career and purchasing power, EPO staff should be concerned by his re-election.

A copy of the intervention made during the demonstration is annexed to this paper for those who could not attend the demonstration.

We need you to support us so that we can support you.

SUEPO Munich

Annex: Intervention during the SUEPO Munich demonstration of Wednesday 29 June 2022

Intervention during the SUEPO Munich demonstration of Wednesday 29 June 2022, at 12.30h in front of the Isar building

Dear Colleagues,

Thanks for coming out of your homes and your offices to join today. SUEPO flyers are back in the canteen. EPO staff is back in the streets. We’re back to normality. EPO normality.

Ion met Mr Campinos for the first time in 2018. Ion has been fired because he is a staff representative. Ion had just won his disciplinary case in front of the Tribunal. For his reinstatement at the EPO, Ion was invited to a face-to-face meeting with Mr Campinos. Mr Campinos told Ion: “You are not important for this Organization. Move on”

Someone representing EPO staff does not count. Someone doing EPO work does not count. Mr Campinos had just set the tone of his mandate: EPO staff won’t count.

After four years of his mandate where do we stand?

EPO Communiqués are full of managerial buzzwords: agility, flexibility, mobility, energy, fluidity, vibrance, modernisation. Communiqués are void of content and hardly make sense. Management by emptiness. This is what we have.

“Sustainability” is everywhere. Work more for less.

Concerning salary adjustments, Mr Campinos sees no problem that the Office makes huge savings while staff salaries are frozen. His consultants from Mercer had foreseen deflation for a decade. Inflation is actually sky-rocketing. Their Financial Study was flawed.

To compensate for inflation, “friends” are appointed Principal Directors, become members of the MAC, get functional allowances and cash injections into their Salary Savings Plan.

Concerning the career, Ms Simon replies that she does not believe in café para todos. She does not believe in coffee for all: that everybody should get a career. For her, some can get the double step espresso, some can get the cappuccino bonus but it’s not a problem for her that some have an empty cup.

Today, the Council discusses the re-election of Mr Campinos.

Is there something positive on the agenda for staff?

No, the Council will approve the “Mobility Package”. On the one hand, we get a new category of staff, the “Young Professionals” with fewer rights and the lowest EPO salaries ever. On the other hand, national experts coming to the EPO will get their national salary paid by the EPO and an allowance of +€5.000 per month. A handful of EPO managers will be seconded to national offices and continue to earn their full EPO salary without performing any work for the EPO. Double standards continue at the EPO

We try to convince management. We bring arguments. We bring data.

To have data, SUEPO mandated the company Technologia to run its Staff Survey in 2022. Mr Campinos is running his staff survey with Willis Towers Watsons.

Technologia asks clear questions. Willis Towers Watson asks vague questions. When Willis Towers Watson analyses results, people who are neutral or abstained are counted as positive. This improves figures for management. If you’re neutral about your remuneration, management will decrease your remuneration. When filling-in a management survey, position yourself clearly, if you disagree, disagree clearly. When in doubt, disagree. Otherwise, management will instrumentalize your answer.

Are the Technologia results relevant?

Yes. The survey asks the same questions as the previous survey conducted in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2020 to reliably compare the results. SUEPO asked Mr Campinos to send the survey on all @epo.org email addresses. Mr Campinos refused. In 2022, when digitalisation is the EPO trend, the ban on mass-email continues. Mr Campinos even disbanded our secretariat. He intends to hide us further clicks away in the Intranet. If Mr Campinos thinks we are not important, why is he trying to reduce our importance?

1.766 staff members took the time to answer. The sample is large and representative. Thanks for taking the time to fill-in.

What do the results say?

On the career system

Mr Campinos made minor fine-tunings to the career system (“catch-up mechanism” every 5 years and “collaborative bonuses”). He did not put an end to the dissatisfaction among staff. 84% think their professional situation is affected by the bonuses and 87% by the lack of seniority advancement. 79% think fairness and transparency should be increased in the reward exercise.

If you don’t like the career system, you are not alone.

On quality

For Mr Campinos, bad quality is just a problem of misunderstanding. Mr Campinos launched the project “Creating a common definition of quality” (SP2023 Goal 3). Managers go there. They think. They talk. They re-think. They re-talk. And there is no output. It’s typically the kind of meetings managers can attend with their iPad in the Biergarten.

For EPO managers, quality is timeliness. If McDonald’s can serve a burger in 3 minutes, is this really quality? For EPO managers, quality is consistency. If Mc Donald’s serves the same burger everywhere, is this really quality?

Actually, at the EPO, the burger is becoming less tasty. Grant compliance is down from 85.4% in 2016 to 74.5% in 2022.

Staff’s perception is no different. 89% say quality is negatively affected by the performance related bonus and 91% by the abolition of the automatic step. 87% say it is necessary and important for the future of the EPO to give more time to do quality work. Management

thinks that tools will increase quality and productivity, but Ansera still has more days of sick leave than the average employee.

If you’re concerned by quality, you are not alone.

On mistrust in management and the atmosphere

57% of staff trust their immediate superior. Figures lower dramatically higher in the hierarchy. Only 24% trust their Director, 5% their Principal Director/COO, 7% their Vice-President, 1% the members of the MAC, 3% the President and 1% the Administrative Council.

DG1 is the DG in which trust in management is the lowest. A COO even manages to be less popular than the Vice-President.

23% of staff consider to be exposed to relational violence essentially in DG5 and DG0, the area the closest to the President. That same President who says: “You will never have such a nice person being the f***ing President”

On reorganizations

Reorganizations are perceived as pointless for 86%, not desired by 92% and negative in their career for 87%. Nevertheless, Mr Campinos continues with reorganizations.

The next reorganization is “Binging Teams Together”. The project is very unpopular. This was clear from the CIN meeting yesterday. Again, it’s about sustainability: compressing staff in less office space to empty buildings: PH1-4 in Munich. The Shell in The Hague.

Staff was never asked by Willis Towers Watson whether they like “offices for the day”. But if you answered you come less than three days per week, this is what you will get. You see. Your answers are instrumentalized by management.

What is an “office for the day”? Management said yesterday it will be your “home” but you won’t have the keys. Anyone can have a code to enter. It’s an office you will have to disinfect yourself. An office empty of personal belongings. An office you will have to ergonomically readjust. When management tells staff, you won’t have your own office, management sends the message that you don’t count.

On social dialogue

Staff representatives remain trusted by 75% and the action of staff representation is a “plus” for 88%.

Thank you. We need you to support us so that we can support you.

88% find that top management is not showing interest in an honest and constructive dialogue. They were only 77% in 2020.

Indeed. Pertinent arguments are ignored. Questions receive flawed answers or non-answers. We are not in an Office where convincing counts. Only power and money count. As long as management feel they have the power to make staff produce more for less, they will continue.

On the health of staff and engagement

The worsening is historical. Mr Campinos was proud that his “Stronger Together” webpage had hundreds of thousands of clicks. For him, this was the relevant KPI to assess staff engagement and well-being.

However, only 7% appreciate the support by the Human Resources. For 67% their current work life affects their health. 48% consider their health as average or poor. This is the worst result since 2010.

69% feel very tired, 42% feel depressed and 37% feel desperate.

Teleworking has a negative impact on relationship with colleagues (for 71%), gives a feeling of isolation (for 47%) and contributes at 0% to the sense of belonging.

In 2018, Mr Campinos promised to increase staff engagement. His first mandate is actually a major failure. They were 13% to be disengaged in 2016, 19% in 2020 and now disengagement peaks to 41% in 2022.

If you feel disengaged, you are not alone.

What is management doing about it?

Engagement won’t increase by giving staff an “office for the day”.
Engagement won’t increase by making cuts on career and purchasing power.
Engagement won’t increase with videos of managers smiling and holding a coffee cup.

This afternoon, the Council will decide upon the re-election of Mr Campinos. Maybe they will take on board staff concerns. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they won’t re-elect Mr Campinos. Maybe they will. Maybe they will give him the proper mandate to repair the damages.

Our role is to inform you, to listen to your feedback, to voice your concerns and to report afterwards. We did everything we could. You did as well by coming here today.

Thank you for your support

These are depressing times for most EPO staff, but we know who Campinos is and we’ll continue to show the harms done by him. He’s abusing the EPO's Web site with shameless glee. He is a massive liability to the EU’s reputation, not just the EPO’s reputation.

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