The IPKat welcomed the news from the meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO), following its meeting in March, that members of the Administrative Council and the President of the EPO were going to meet with the EPO unions (SUEPO and FFPE), with a view to establishing formal recognition and improving social dialogue. Merpel further called upon the parties to work together to achieve the three 'o's: optimism for the future, organisational fairness and transparency, and overall contentment for all who commit their careers and their endeavours to the EPO cause.
The meeting took place on 22 April, and was reported by the IPKat here.
SUEPO's report (see news here on 23 April) was cautious, pointing out that
union recognition means little if it is not accompanied by meaningful involvement in practical matters that affect staff, like the recent reforms on the Career & Performance, Sick leave & Incapacity, and the reforms that still remain to be designed in the framework of the HR roadmap.
|What we all want!|
While she is no expert on healthcare provisions this moggy thinks that, if much the same sort of highly educated, skilled employees suffer from much the same health issues irrespective of the institution for which they work, there is no obvious reason why they should be treated differently. She wonders: can some kind reader compile a comparative table of sickness-related provisions and benefits that apply for each of the organisations mentioned above, and any others she may have overlooked, so that she can publish it here and readers of this weblog can see for themselves whether the EPO staff have a genuine grievance or are merely in training for the Marathon Moan event at the next Olympics?
In the meantime, the protests in Munich continue, and SUEPO now plans a demonstration on Thursday 30 April 2015 in the form of a march from the PschorrHöfe complex to the Dutch consulate. As SUEPO puts it (see news here on 27 April):
Why the Dutch consulate? By imposing draconian restrictions on colleagues who are sick or invalid, the latest health reform offends staff fundamental rights such as freedom of movement and right to a private life. As a host country, the Netherlands has a special duty of care towards the 3,000 staff members residing in The Hague.
The Dutch delegation nevertheless voted in favour of these reforms. A Dutch court recently agreed with SUEPO’s claim that the strike regulations introduced by Mr Battistelli infringe fundamental rights. Mr Battistelli reacted with fury and was quick to announce that the judgment was “neither legally admissible nor practically enforceable”.Merpel regrets that further actions are necessary, and hopes that genuine engagement by the EPO administration with the unions, accompanied by revisiting some of the reforms that have already been implemented prior to any possible union recognition, may make this the last.
The (then) Dutch Minister of Justice, Mr Opstelten, backed the President and blocked the implementation of the judgment. Last week Mr Battistelli informed us that the Dutch government will join the EPO in its attempt to overturn the judgment in the next instance (“cassation”). If so then the Dutch government makes itself complicit in violating fundamental rights.
With this demonstration, we wish to protest against the attitude of the EPO and the Dutch government and remind them of their duty of care towards staff in the EPO.
A further point that strikes Merpel is that, while the EPO administration insists that substantial increases in examination productivity are necessary, it has been not explained, either apparently to the EPO employees, and certainly not to EPO users, what is the nature of this necessity. It is certainly not apparent from the published accounts of the EPO (which Merpel attempted to examine here).
In the meantime, the cartoon is a venerable tool of political protest, and Merpel was struck by SUEPO's latest offering.
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