Bonum Certa Men Certa

“ViCo” is Nothing New (Not Even the Acronym), Done on 9/11 Last Year, Been Possible as Long as the EPO Has Existed

More on "ViCo":



Videoconferencing did not exist until the EPO granted patents on it?Summary: Contrary to what many people are led to believe, the EPO isn't embracing innovation, it's just embracing COVID-19 and leveraging lock-downs (de facto house arrest to some) to impose an illegal practice on EPO staff and EPO stakeholders

THE EPO's management likes to pretend that video conferences are something new and innovative. But as "Patent robot" pointed out on November 29th at 12:11 PM in Kluwer Patent Blog comments, "videoconferencing was already available in 1973" (when Benoît Battistelli was a really young man and António Campinos just a little kid).



"Privacy at the EPO is a total farce."Looking at documents from last year, we find that even the overly hyped buzzword, “ViCo”, was used back then. Central Staff Committee representatives wrote to staff as follows (the yellow highlights are added by us):



Status on WG: StaffRep resources



No progress – no commitments


Dear colleagues,

The Communiqué of the President on Social Dialogue just published on the Intranet suggests that  the discussions in the Working Group on Staff Representation Resources (WGSR) (i.e. adjustments to “Social Democracy 2.0”) have been constructive so far. Our recollection is different:

Throughout the Battistelli administration, the resources and facilities for Staff Representation have been consistently reduced to below workable levels, culminating with the last reform, effective from 1st of July 2017. We have repeatedly insisted that we are operating below any workable standard, leading to complete exhaustion of our elected members. We requested from the start sufficient time and meetings in person to progress. Unfortunately the administration did not see the importance and invited mainly to ViCos of 1,5hrs duration. Adding all meetings up we may have just invested about a working day in the matter.

To compensate for the absence of WG time we made further written proposals, essentially following 2 strands:



  • some quick fixes, valid until the end of the current mandate, and aiming at giving a minimal amount of breathing space to the current elected representatives, with a last version dated 24 May 2019. The only change implemented was granting a 75% exemption to the full CSC members (had been reduced from 100% to 50% from 1st of July 2017). None of the other choking issues (time and independence of our nominees in the Appeals Committee; flexibility to distribute unused time; time resources for the LSC Chairs; communication resources, in casu access to emails to all staff, et al.) were considered; 

  • discussions and a written overview table relating to a review of the structure of Staff Representation starting from the next mandate onwards. 



No written comments or substantive feedback on our proposals nor a concrete counter-proposal from the administration side has been received to this day.

Upon suggestion of the administration, we also gathered a commonly agreed upon benchmark questionnaire, which was sent in parallel to the HR administration and staff representation of some 9 other EU agencies or International Organizations that were somewhat similar in size and/or layout. Staff representation has received some answers meanwhile – from which it is clear that we are operating far below any conditions used in any of the contacted IO’s. We have not received any comment on the answers as received by the administration.

A further ViCo on the 11th of September brought again no progress but showed that the Administration continued not to be willing or not in a position to discuss the proposals meaningfully.

The President informed us that a document is now in preparation. We do not know what it will contain – but one thing is sure – it was not discussed in the WG nor with the CSC nor (as been informed) with SUEPO.

Updates about these and remaining topics addressed in the President’s communiqué will follow.

Your Central Staff Committee



An even earlier communication said that "[t]wo WG ViCos in September brought again no progress but showed that the Administration is not willing or not in a position to discuss the proposals meaningfully. E.g. our proposal for a fair approach to Appraisal in Search and Examination has been rejected as it would diminish the line managers responsibility."

Here's the full communication again with highlights:

Status on WG: Adjustments to New Career System



Little progress – broken commitments


Dear colleagues,
 
The Communiqué of the President on Social Dialogue just published on the Intranet suggests that  the discussions in the Working Group on Performance Management (WGPM) (i.e. adjustments to the New career System) have been constructive so far. Our recollection is different:

Following the President’s invitation earlier this year to resume discussions started in 2018 and reconvene the WG on performance management system and procedure for incompetence we submitted our him our proposals and suggestions by an open letter on 19 March 2019.
 
He did not follow our repeated recommendation for the Composition of the Working Group avoiding members who shaped (the implementation of) the performance management system for obvious reasons.
 
Adjusting the new career system making it fit for granting high quality patents, motivating staff and reducing litigation while ensuring long term sustainability is a complex matter. Thus we requested from start sufficient time and meetings in person to progress. Unfortunately the administration did not see the importance and invited mainly to ViCos of 1,5hrs duration. Adding all meetings up we may have just invested about a working day in the matter.

To compensate for the absence of WG time we made further written proposals:




€· Input by the CSC on transitional measures from the OCS to the NCS


€· Input by the CSC on the design of a career path based on merit while enhancing a cooperative working   environment


€· Input by the CSC on some implementation details of the career on:


 


o Orientation for the Appraisal: in Search and Examination
o Appraisal Committee and Harmonisation Committee
o Target Setting (Circular 366)


 
No written comments nor counter-proposals from the administration side have been received to this day.

Two WG ViCos in September brought again no progress but showed that the Administration is not willing or not in a position to discuss the proposals meaningfully. E.g. our proposal for a fair approach to Appraisal in Search and Examination has been rejected as it would diminish the line managers responsibility.
 
Moreover, the President withdrew his commitment to review transitional measures from the OCS to the NCS as also promised to SUEPO in December 2018. And transparency remains still at the discretion of the administration as requested information on average career progress has still not been provided.
 
The President informed us that a document is now in preparation. We do not know what it will contain – but one thing is sure – it was not discussed in the WG nor with the CSC nor (as been informed) with SUEPO.
 


Updates about these and remaining topics addressed in the President’s communiqué will follow.


Your Central Staff Committee


There's much to be said about the above, including the 6 documents/letters/working positions in them. But those are so old that they're almost outdated, so it's better to focus on recent ones instead (covering the same sorts of issues). The main point is, the whole "ViCo" hype should be put in perspective; it is hardly a breakthrough (I did video chats over the Internet even back in the 1990s). The fact that the EPO now outsources those things to the US (remember that Skype was European until Microsoft bought it) is quite revealing w.r.t. data protection policies at the Office. Privacy at the EPO is a total farce.

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