Bonum Certa Men Certa

127th Session of ILO Tribunal Rulings Will Deal With European Patent Organisation Complaints (Appeals) Tomorrow Afternoon, Staff Grows Tired of Office President António Campinos

Summary: Tribunal decisions regarding EPO staff, in light of perceived bias at the Tribunal, are less than a day away; there are signs that groups of examiners are starting a soft rebellion again

THE European Patent Office (EPO) will be abuzz tomorrow. What's known informally as the "flier team" (FLIER rather, there's a history to this name/acronym, going a long way back) has just published "EPO-FLIER 43" and it takes off the gloves in dealing with António Campinos, as did SUEPO earlier this month. Patience is running out.



Earlier today SUEPO added links to two articles that we mentioned here before and cited this new letter to Campinos, written in French (he is French) [PDF]. It is from Union Syndicale Fédérale. Translation/s soon? Hopefully.

Here is what the "flier team" wrote:

27 November 2018

FLIER No. 43

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Is micromanagement a sign that a leader is out of his depth?



“Many managers are unable to let go of their old job or their old ways of doing their job.” This is the conclusion drawn in a “Harvard Business Review” article by Ron Ashkenas. He goes on to write that

“... at higher levels managers usually need to dial down their operational focus and learn how to be more strategic. To do so, managers have to trust their people to manage day-to-day operations and coach them as needed, rather than trying to do it for them. For many managers, this is a difficult transition and they unconsciously continue to spend time in the more comfortable operational realm of their subordinates.”1

In the same article, Ashkenas writes that anxious managers “seek information in as many ways as possible — through reports, meetings, and one-on-one conversations.” Does this sound familiar?

The new president’s recent decision2,3 to approve every mission, except some inter-site missions, personally, is micromanagement. The signal it sends is that highly paid vice-presidents and principal directors, all managing budgets of millions, are incapable of judging whether a trip for duty travel is justified. Objectively, without taking any particularities into account, it is very unlikely that the president will understand the background for a trip in more detail than the line manager. A principal director or vice-president will presumably also be close enough to draw a conclusion on whether the trip fits in with the overall office strategy. If the president is right and some of the middle managers did take poor decisions, then surely the bigger problem is the manager concerned, not the decision to send people on specific trips.

Yes, for sure, there is a case for the president being involved in defining the overall travel strategy, the aims and the goals and for setting a budget. But should he be involved in deciding each individual trip? Really?4

We are surprised and worried by the president taking this path. It is counterproductive to building trust. We hope it will remain an isolated incident and that the new president will demonstrate more willingness to leave operational management of the office at management levels below him.

This is not, however, all. If we accept that it is the president’s right to decide every mission personally, the next question is to look at his implementation of the new procedure. He could have said what he wanted and given instructions for everything to be in place by, say, January 2019. This would have left some time for staff and managers to get used to the idea, and for the office to put new procedures in place for the necessary administration. Instead of taking this line, he insisted that the new procedure should take immediate effect, putting hundreds of trips into question, leaving staff unaware of whether they would be travelling or not, and leaving many of the EPO’s outside partners in the dark as to whether the EPO delegation was going to turn up for meetings that had been in the calendar for months.

This stubbornness has put the office’s reputation in jeopardy and smacks of a prima donna side to our president which cannot be in the interests of the office or the organisation.

Again, we hope we are wrong. We hope our new president is neither a micromanager, nor a prima donna. And we fervently hope he is not out of his depth at a time when we need fantastic rather than mediocre leadership.

______ 1 “Why people micromanage”, by Ron Ashkenas, https://hbr.org/2011/11/why-people-micromanage 2 Travels cancelled, R.I.P. Kat..., (https://rip-kat.blogspot.com/), 11.10.2018 3 “Responsible travel planning”, announcement of the president, 16.10.2018 4 In his communiqué the president himself claims that only 1 in 100 missions was finally cancelled



We wrote about the above citations before, but we have not seen the relevant/corresponding communiqué (perhaps someone can send that to us).

As the latest anonymous comments reveal, this president is now treated as part of the problem. One comment said (quoting an official statement): "constructive dialogue: „to remove causes of criticism“???? Wow! Am I the only one, noticing the euphemism?"

So this president just wants to silence his critics rather than address the underlying issues. These issues include union-busting actions (Bergot is still doing so), low patent quality, and staff morale.

Will there be a union-related decision tomorrow? In about half a day from now the Tribunal of ILO has a chance to show everyone (yet again) that it is a laughing stock in the face of EPO corruption and abuses.

There's a comment to that effect (below) and some readers told us about this as well:

The EPO in the spotlight at ILO-AT next week again

http://www.ilo.org/tribunal/news/WCMS_650150/lang–en/index.htm

127th Session – Exceptional public delivery

The Tribunal will exceptionally deliver in public three judgments adopted at its 127th Session separately and earlier than the remaining 74 judgments also adopted at the same session.

The three judgments concern an application for interpretation and review of Judgment 3928 filed by the Universal Postal Union and an application for execution of that judgment (AT4731 and 4743), one case against the European Patent Organisation (AT 3547) and one application for execution of Judgment 3871 against the World Health Organization (AT 4757) (the parties concerned have been informed). The Tribunal has considered for various reasons that those judgments should be delivered rapidly.

They will be announced in public on Wednesday 28 November 2018 at 3 pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2) and will be published on the Tribunal’s website (ilo.org/trib) shortly after the public delivery.

The remaining judgments adopted at the 127th Session will be delivered in public on Wednesday 6 February 2019.

Geneva, 20 November 2018

Dražen Petrović, Registrar


"AT 3547 was a decision in 2017 concerning UNIDO," one last comment noted. "Has the tribunal notification contained an error? Current decisions are numbered around 4700 (see the other decisions cited)."

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