|Cat passport in paw, Merpel heads out|
First, the strike ballot that was called for has been refused by the President of the EPO, which seems to the IPKat to be precisely the sort of interference in the process that was suspected may happen when the new strike rules were promulgated. The reasons for refusal to organise a strike ballot were set out in a communique which Merpel has seen, and the main one appears to be that elections to the Central Staff Committee are underway - the elections take place today on 18 June - and so organising a strike at this time would create confusion. The communique also stated that a strike action should be a measure of last resort, and opined that "responsible social dialogue" had not been engaged in. This was reported by WIPR here.
In the meantime, apparently the EPO administration feared unofficial action. A key day was yesterday, 17 June, when the European Inventor Award ceremony took place in Berlin. Merpel has heard that supervisors were asked to be particularly vigilant about unauthorised absences on that day, particularly in Berlin. News has yet to reach the IPKat of what actually happened yesterday, if anything.
17 or 18 June was however not the date of the proposed strike, which was planned to coincide with the Administrative Council meeting on 25 and 26 June in the Hague. Merpel has seen correspondence from the site manager at the Hague explicitly stating that no demonstration is permitted on EPO premises on 25 June, when apparently there will be a ceremony marking laying of the foundation stone of a new building at the Hague, and the Dutch Prime Minister is expected to attend. An alternative would be a demonstration on public property, for which the permission of the local Dutch authorities would be needed, and Merpel has not been informed whether or not this is specifically planned. However, she does expect the event to be accompanied by some kind of protest, and there are signs that not only those working at the Hague, but also those from other EPO sites, may wish to become involved.
Meanwhile, for those who question exactly what it is that the EPO employees are complaining about, on the website of SUEPO, the EPO Union, there have been posted a couple of documents (link here, postings on 15 and 17 June) setting out the issues in greater detail. One is a release on the occasion of the European Inventor Award, while the other is a document drafted for submission to the Administrative Council, which was not however transmitted by the President.
Merpel has even seen a suggestion apparently made by the EPO Central Staff Committee to the Administrative Council that the EPO's integrity system should be assessed by Transparency International. Merpel is not holding her breath for anything to come of this initiative.
Well, that seems to bring matters at the EPO about up to date - if any more news reaches her ears, Merpel will let her dear readers know.