Bonum Certa Men Certa

Management of the European Patent Office Misleads Staff on Views of the Office's Staff Committee

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Jun 14, 2024

Report on the GCC meeting of 5 June 2024

THE EPO's Central Staff Committee has just published a couple of long documents [1, 2] dealing with a "meeting" (webchat) involving António Campinos and his cronies. The Central Staff Committee asserts that "[i]n its Communiqué of 10 June 2024, the Office reported on the GCC meeting of 5 June 2024. We deeply regret that the Office was not precise enough in this Communiqué so that its views can be easily distinguished from the views of the Staff Committee." Here's an overview:

The General Consultative Committee (GCC) met by videoconference on 5 June 2024. The following items were on the agenda of the meeting and the CSC members of the GCC raised their concerns and tried to get further clarifications: The detailed and reasoned opinions by the CSC members of the GCC are annexed to this paper.

The opinion on New Ways of Working: Pilot Evaluation is also available as a separate document.

The Central Staff Committee's document covers many things that are applicable to workers in general, not just EPO workers. Here's one example of issues we covered in the past [1, 2]:

Right to disconnect

57. A monitoring of unhealthy working patterns also related to managerial requests (rest breaks and hours per day / week) is currently missing.

58. We observe that line managers ask colleagues to work late hours during the week or ask them to finalise “urgent” assignments during the weekend. Some managers unduly contact staff during sick leave or maternity leave for e.g. appraisals review meetings and expect them to be connected.

59. A right to disconnection is currently missing. The “right to disconnect” shall be seen as ability of people to disconnect from work and primarily not to engage in work-related electronic communications such as e-mails or messages during non-work hours.

60. Some International Organisations have added the right to disconnect in their regulations for the well- being of their staff.

61. In the third technical meeting, as a concrete proposal, we suggested that the Working Hours arrangements are explicitly mentioned in the Circular on “New Ways of Working” in combination with a “right to disconnect”.

62. The administration replied that the EPO inter alia already suspended the core-time, maintained the accrual of flexi-hours and has the most “flexible” scheme among International Organisations.

63. In our view, the flexibility of the scheme should not be misinterpreted as a flexibility at the disposal of the line managers. To the contrary, the Office has a duty of care towards staff.

64. In the GCC meeting of 5 June 2024, the administration refused to consider our proposal.

To be frank, at 23 + 18 pages (41 in total) it may be some "hefty" reading, but there are bits there that are worth passing through, even if just very quickly. The EPO as a workplace very rapidly deteriorates [1, 2] and many insiders look for a way out, sans unemployment.

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