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Friday, 17 April 2015

Le Monde parle - article about the unrest at the European Patent Office

Merpel has received word of an article published by the major French newspaper Le Monde on 6 April 2015, reporting on the industrial unrest and social tensions within the European Patent Office (EPO).  The original article linked appears to require a subscription and is naturally in French, but those good people at SUEPO have published a version with a translation in French and German which you can access on their news page (item of 9 April 2015) here.

The specialist IP press has been reporting on the issues at the EPO, as have regional German newspapers such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Merpel has not before seen the wider press pick up on the story.  The wider coverage of the European Patent Office has more prominently featured articles paid for by the EPO or the pointless extravagance and meaningless distraction that is the European Inventor Award.

The Le Monde article makes grim reading.  Recent events are reported thus:
But behind this pleasant façade, word has it that now a different reality prevails on the inside. A poisonous atmosphere, people on the edge of a nervous breakdown, under surveillance, their movements recorded, put under pressure, subjected to productivity targets which keep getting higher and higher. Those who don’t toe the line are told by security to pack up their things with an hour’s notice, and then escorted off the premises. Some of them have been pushed to extremes. One 55-year-old man had to be restrained by the other people in the office when he started banging his head against the wall. Another resorted to self-harming. Still more dramatically, at the end of March a German committed suicide in a public garden in the Bavarian capital. He was on sick leave for depression, and had told close friends about his fear of not being able to meet his targets. On 8 July 2013, a Belgian employee jumped out of the window of his office in The Hague. Two others, a Frenchman and a German, committed suicide at their homes in Munich. Before putting an end to himself, in May 2012 the Frenchman had requested a transfer, claiming harassment by his superior. The German, who had criticised the attitude of the management in dealing with his colleague’s distress, had forthwith been suspended and removed from the premises. He killed himself on 3 September 2014, the day on which he received a letter summoning him before the disciplinary committee. 
On these tragic events, Mr Battistelli is quoted thus:
Using suicides against him is indicative of malicious intent: “I am deeply shocked by these attempts to turn these tragedies into instruments of action. It is too serious a subject for them to break into polemics.” 
The current regime is characterised as follows:
According to Suepo, this economic and legal independence has now been perverted by the arrival of Benoît Battistelli, a 64-year-old alumnus of the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration. The new boss is said to have succumbed to a “spiral of authoritarianism” and “dictatorial tactics”. He is surrounded by a Praetorian guard who are devoted to him, made up entirely of French people who, like him, have come from the French National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI). Benoît Battistelli is accused, by way of his minions, of having turned the tenth floor of the Munich headquarters into a fortress from which he is remoulding the institution. 
The Investigation Unit also features:
Strictly according to the detractors, the management is using and abusing an “investigation unit” which, at each site, is responsible for looking into any shortcomings. At the headquarters in Germany, this internal police force has been given another name – the Stasi. An internal directive makes it obligatory to collaborate with this unit and to denounce the deficiencies of colleagues, on pain of sanctions. “There have been more disciplinary procedures in the last two years than in the thirty years before”, as one staff representative complained. 
On the other hand, Mr Battistelli gives assurance that “the investigation unit acts with total independence.”
Merpel has noted that, in comments on blogposts on this topic, the high salaries enjoyed by Examiners are given as a reason why they should endure the current conditions without complaint.  This issue is also addressed:
We are aware that our remunerations are more than correct. But at what level of income do human rights no longer apply?” asks one Munich employee. “There is a lead weight dragging this organization down”, maintains Philip Cordery, Socialist Deputy for French citizens abroad. “People working at the EPO regularly inform me of their mistreatment. There is abuse of the extra-territorial status, which is not supposed to equate to impunity.”
Finally, the article refers to the appeal made by the Administrative Council at its March meeting for  the “resumption of social dialogue”.  But it concludes:
 It is by no means sure that this attempt at conciliation will be enough to appease some festering hatreds. The violence of the communications exchanges between the President and Suepo prove that this is going to be a fight to the death between them. 
Merpel hopes that this is not the case, but is concerned that the controversial reforms voted on at the March Administrative Council meeting are apparently being implemented immediately. These reforms, relating to the sick leave and invalidity provisions for EPO employees, were apparently passed with no fewer than 10 abstentions -- including the three major delegations (DE, FR, and UK) together with CZ, IE, IT, MT, SE, SI and SK.  They were also the subject of the acrimonious General Consultative Committee meeting that Merpel reported here.  The reforms are apparently to be implemented before the scheduled meeting with SUEPO that may lead to the trade union recognition that the Administrative Council also called for.  If all of the controversial changes are already made, what value will remain in any later union recognition?  Will there be anything left to consult on?

As ever, Merpel welcomes comments, but begs to remind readers of the following:
Henceforth, in respect of all EPO-related blogposts, no comment will be posted if it is merely ascribed to "Anonymous".  Any reader wishing to conceal his or her identity must adopt a pseudonym (which should not be obscene and should not be the name, or the mis-spelling of the name, of a real person).  The pseudonym need not be an actual login name, as long as it is stated clearly at the beginning and/or end of the comment itself. This way, it will be easier for people who post later comments to identify and remember the earlier comment-poster and to recall the discussion string.  Where, as has already happened on occasion, a string carries over from one blogpost to a later one on the same or a related subject, readers will be encouraged to use the same pseudonym for the sake of continuity.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

NAME: "MOVED TO COMMENT" I have not commented before, but I was so moved by the report from Le Monde I felt I must comment and add another voice. Such tragedy and sorrow caused, if the reports are true. Those poor people who are damaged or who took their lives. Something must be done. IP is just IP, a job is just a job, office politics is just that. But life, human rights and respect must be put at the heart of all EU institutions. As a jaded over-worked partner in a law firm, it takes a lot to shock me. I am shocked and horrified. NAME: "MOVED TO COMMENT"

Paul Leonard said...

Shocking and very, very sad. I don't know all of the ins and outs of the saga (though I know it has been going on a long time). If this were a public company, the management would have been removed by now. If they had any decency, they would have resigned.

Anonymous said...

So Sad said:
According to an article published recently by Le Monde as referred to on the Suepo´s homepage, France Telecom saw 60 suicides within 3 years for a total staff of 110.000.
Now it seems that within a shorter period of time 4 EPO examiners commited suicide for a total staff count of 7.000, which is even worse.
And whilst France Telecom´s former CEO and top managers are being investigated by several judges for moral harassement and complicity of such, EPO management relies on immunity to block any judicial investigation.

Korinthenkacker said...

Here's the President's reaction (or of his PR counselors) to the article in Le Monde:

--- BEGIN QUOTE ---

Communique No. 70 -- 08.04.2015

EPO in the focus of media attention

Dear colleagues,

To an unparalleled degree, the EPO is currently the focus of media attention. Publications in several countries are reporting about our reform agenda and related tensions in the Office. The public debate has now reached a level that has the potential to severely damage the EPO's reputation and future in the long term. A recent article published by the French newspaper Le Monde is another piece in this negative and damaging campaign, and even goes further by reporting on the deaths of EPO staff members and presenting them as work-related.

These cases are individual tragedies, and my thoughts are with the family members and colleagues of the deceased. What has added to the sadness of the situation is the fact that several hundred pages of sensitive internal, personal and medical information were disclosed to the journalist from inside the EPO. I greatly regret this inadmissible breach of confidentiality. It is unjust towards our deceased colleagues, particularly since some of the information appears to be factually inaccurate and suggests a link to tensions within the Office when there is actually no such evidence from the facts on record.

In my view and in that of many people who have approached me on this issue, this article crossed a red line. I am concerned about the fact that confidential information is being deliberately disclosed to the media in order to damage the reputation of our organisation. This is not acceptable. Moreover, such disclosure does a grave disservice to the deceased colleagues and their families, and is detrimental to the EPO's well recognised practice of providing trusted care for their dependants.

I am convinced that the EPO still has a successful future ahead. Safeguarding that future is the purpose of all the reforms currently under discussion. It is my duty as EPO President to take responsibility for driving the necessary adjustments. Let me say that it is a great honour to serve as the President of one of the most important patent offices in the world. I am proud of the people who day by day deliver high-quality work that is critical to the success of the European economy - a task of the utmost importance.

It is therefore particularly disappointing that this last article should appear just after the Administrative Council endorsed my proposal to discuss the possibility of formally recognising the trade unions within the EPO's legal framework - an unprecedented step in our history. The leaders of the two trade unions in the EPO - SUEPO and FFPE - were already invited a week ago to an upcoming round table on April 22nd. Social dialogue at the EPO has never been easy, and to improve it requires hard work, respect and readiness to compromise from both sides. For my part, I am committed to making this step an important milestone on our way forward, in the best interest of the EPO and its staff.

--- END QUOTE ---

This little marvel would deserve a lengthy deconstruction in the Derrida style, but in a few words, the President's invocations of the notions of "duty", "honour" and "reputation" are somehow reminiscent of Samuel Johnson's observation on patriotism.

Korinthenkacker said...

In connection with the subject-matter discussed by Le Monde, here's a brand new report by the Staff representation on the latest incident:

--- BEGIN QUOTE ---
New threats on staff representatives - Is this renewed social dialogue?

Dear Colleagues,

The General Consultative Committee (GCC) meeting of 15 April ended in a miserable
failure.

In this meeting, the Central Staff Committee (CSC) complained that an important statement had been suppressed from the minutes of the previous meeting of 27 February, namely that we had explicitly expressed the concern that the HR policies designed by PD43 (Ms Bergot) posed a serious risk for the health of EPO Staff, including the risk of colleagues resorting to suicide. We further complained that when this point was made in February, PD43 did not appear to take our comments seriously. We admonished her that such matters should be taken seriously.

When resuming the meeting after a short break, PD43 had left. PD53 (Ms Wieland) requested VP4 (Mr Topic), acting chairman, to note that an official harassment procedure would be started against the members of the Central Staff Committee for having offended PD43. When asked, PD53 did not clarify which offensive statement she was referring to. Thereupon VP1 requested a suspension of the GCC meeting. VP4 obliged, in spite of clear Rules of Procedure dictating otherwise.

This outcome was uncalled for, and we have reasons to suspect it was engineered, so that the talks to be held next week between the Office and the Unions will start with a black mark. After all, Mr Battistelli may wish to show the Council that the CSC cannot be trusted, and that they were wrong in telling him to shape up and resume dialogue.

Two hours after the suspension of the GCC meeting, we were invited to another one with the same agenda on 23 April, the day after the planned meeting with the Unions. The whole process does not bode well for a bona fide “renewed” social dialogue. We fear that the Office is simply not interested in considering what impact their reforms may have on Staff health and wellbeing.

With consternation,

The Central Staff Committee
--- END QUOTE ---

The meeting planned for April 22 is in my eyes nothing but a charade and a sinister joke. The current President (together with his cronies) has proved over and over again its utter contempt for staff. Why should there be any progress, if the existing representative bodies are methodically and systematically pushed about?

The whole thing reeks of a trap and a setup. I can't see a positive outcome, regardless of whether my union reps choose to show up or stay away.

I can only hope that my representatives will be accompanied by external witnesses.

I'm especially worried when I read again this document published 7 years ago:
http://www.suepo.org/public/sc08161cp.pdf

--- BEGIN QUOTE ---
From this we understand that Mr. Grossenbacher wants to abolish either the statutory Staff Committee or the Staff Union. Similar remarks have been heard within the Office. Indeed the administration commissioned a study by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law that was to answer three questions amongst which the question whether the Organisation could de-recognise the Union (sic!). The answer was a “yes, but ... we basically do not recommend it”. We therefore expect that the administration will attempt to abolish the statutory Staff Committee and try to commit the Union to binding engagement rules. It is not yet entirely clear whether the administration also wants to abolish, or at least weaken, the local staff representations in favour of a stronger central body.
--- END QUOTE ---

Korinthenkacker said...

One last thing:

There is a six page feature in the April issue of JUVE Rechtsmarkt, a publication targeted to practicing German corporate lawyers.

The section headers reflect the general tone of the text: "Smoke screens" (Nebelkerzen), "scorched earth policy", "a whiff of FIFA". Much of the content was already reported here, but there is one fairly revealing detail I wasn't previously aware of: members of the boards of appeals seriously debated holding a wildcat strike last December.

Ugly American said...

Wow.

I might have to be considered the Beautiful American in comparison...

Sickguy said...

From Communique No 70

"The public debate has now reached a level that has the potential to severely damage the EPO's reputation and future in the long term."

Interesting that a debate could damage a reputation ... I would have thought it would be more the debated issues

"It is unjust towards our deceased colleagues, particularly since some of the information appears to be factually inaccurate and suggests a link to tensions within the Office when there is actually no such evidence from the facts on record."

How can he judge that - does BB have access to the medical records of staff? And by the way for sure there is no such evidence ... for that an independent invesigation would be needed - which was already blocked in earlier cases

"In my view and in that of many people who have approached me on this issue, this article crossed a red line."

Many people who approached him on that issue - let me guess: VP1, VP4, VP5, PD4.3 and his other friends ... anyway - that complaint should go to Le Monde who published the Article.

"I am concerned about the fact that confidential information is being deliberately disclosed to the media in order to damage the reputation of our organisation."

Ah, BB doesn't have to worry: it is not to damage the reputation of the office ... it's his reputation that is at stake

"This is not acceptable. Moreover, such disclosure does a grave disservice to the deceased colleagues and their families, and is detrimental to the EPO's well recognised practice of providing trusted care for their dependants."

The - sorry - WHAT??? "the recognised practice of providing trusted care" - I am lying on the floor laughing ... good guy, you just abolished any "recognised practice" and "trusted care"... you may want to read the last "health reform" which is nothing else than inhuman

"I am convinced that the EPO still has a successful future ahead."

If he believes in a successful future ahead of the EPO, then he should resign

"Safeguarding that future is the purpose of all the reforms currently under discussion."

BB is not the EPO ... BB and his crownies' wallets are the only things which are safeguraded

"It is my duty as EPO President to take responsibility for driving the necessary adjustments. Let me say that it is a great honour to serve as the President of one of the most important patent offices in the world. I am proud of the people who day by day deliver high-quality work that is critical to the success of the European economy - a task of the utmost importance."

Oh yeah it is valued so enormously that production pressure is increased and staff is rewarded with great reforms ... the eternal gratitude shall be yours.

"It is therefore particularly disappointing that this last article should appear just after the Administrative Council endorsed my proposal to discuss the possibility of formally recognising the trade unions within the EPO's legal framework - an unprecedented step in our history."

His proposal??? I go back onto the floor ... he needs the OK of the AC to take a telephone to call the unions??

"The leaders of the two trade unions in the EPO - SUEPO and FFPE - were already invited a week ago to an upcoming round table on April 22nd. Social dialogue at the EPO has never been easy, and to improve it requires hard work, respect and readiness to compromise from both sides."

"Both" is the magic word - it includes BB!!! - just a reminder

"For my part, I am committed to making this step an important milestone on our way forward, in the best interest of the EPO and its staff."

Daredevil

Veritas vos liberat said...

It is interesting to note that the presidential communiqué no. 70 mentions that "several hundred pages of sensitive internal, personal and medical information were disclosed to the journalist from inside the EPO". Neither the unions nor ordinary examiners have access to this type of confidential information. This must have come from higher places (AC? Human resources?). BB can no longer count on the culpable silence of the higher bodies of the EPO. Veritas vos liberat.

MaxDrei said...

I am thinking that the press in France were silent until now. So I'm wondering what has happened,recently, to prompt Le Monde to publish this piece now.

Could it be that, at the recent AC meeting, BB was indeed handed the Black Spot, and so is now for his sponsors soiled goods, an embarrassment, even a Dead Man Walking. Has somebody at AC level tipped off the press in France? In particular, is Le Monde doing the bidding of the French government?

Walking dead said...

1) A comment that has been published after the article of Le Monde by somebody who visibly has well known BB in his post EPO life:

"Ceux qui connaissent Benoit Battistelli ne seront pas étonnés: partout où il est passé durant sa carrière, notamment, mais pas uniquement, au ministère du commerce extérieur,où il s'est incrusté pendant quelques années, il s'est fait haïr par ses collaborateurs et ses collègues pour son arrivisme et son autoritarisme."

2) About the SUEPO, BB would have said that it was a mix of French extremism and German efficiency.

This only sentence show me how reductive, erroneous and out of the subject is BB opinion about what the staff of the EPO (truly) is.
The EPO staff is a European unique experience of working together. Inside the EPO nobody care of your nationality, your school, your mother language or your grade. Everybody feel/know well that each cultural contribution is a positive addition to a common project for the benefit of the European public. This mix and mission have been for me, for years a great source of happiness and pride.
On the contrary BB and his disgraced cronies are, for me, an unlimited source of shame.

3) "It is unjust towards our deceased colleagues, particularly since some of the information appears to be factually inaccurate and suggests a link to tensions within the Office when there is actually no such evidence from the facts on record."

Wasn't it unjust that the family of the unfortunate colleague who committed suicide in The Hague has been denied of death insurance lump sum by the Bergot's administration?

Isn't it a fact that the last deceased colleague in München was working in the most productive directorate at the EPO, thus the directorate with the highest working pressure?

Dilbert said...

Much has been made of the fact that several of the major memberstates recently abstained from the vote on the "health" reform. The actual effect of those abstentions is practically zero.
In most voting systems, abstention can be seen as a sign of disagreement with the proposals voted on, or at least as a sign of lack of support, with abstentions counted as votes cast.
Not so in the Admin Council: abstentions are (with a very narrow exception which does not apply here) not counted as votes at all, so that BB can still claim his health refom proposals were adopted unanimously!

See Art. 35 Epc - Voting Rules
[...]
3) Unanimity of the Contracting States voting {emphasis added} shall be required for the decisions which the Administrative Council is empowered to take under Article 33, paragraph 1(b). The Administrative Council shall take such decisions only if all the Contracting States are represented. A decision taken on the basis of Article 33, para-graph 1(b), shall not take effect if a Contracting State declares, within twelve months of the date of the decision, that it does not wish to be bound by that decision.

(4) Abstentions shall not be considered as votes.{emphasis added}

So the statement by those governments - especially the apparently forceful statement by the German government - to the effect that they made a stand against Battistelli's reform is either disingenuous or the result of ignorance of the voting rules of the AC.

Happy Banana said...

In banana republic, the work conditions are the best. The human rights are respected. There is no corruption. The social dialogue is perfect. Everybody like the great leader.

That´s why, if a suicide happens, it could not be work related. Then there is no need to investigate. No need also to let Transparancy international come have a look, because there is no corruption. No need to have an independent audit. No need to get a mediation. Just trust the great leader... but never come and check the reality.

Old man of EPO said...

Walking Dead,
On what basis was the lump sum not paid? I thought that life insurance would not be paid out based on suicide. Or is there a link here between the cause being work-related (not investigated independently) or not?

Old Man said...

It is really a pity that the representatives of some states have just abstained. They should have shown the courage to say no. That most of the smaller member states vote for any of BB's suggestions is simple to explain: if you do not vote for what I think is right, then you say good bye to any cooperation project, and any money going with it....

It is just farcical to invite staff representatives to a "dialogue" when the most damaging measures have already been unilaterally decided.
That SUEPO also played a role in the confrontational situation at EPO should however not be forgotten. But this does not warrant dismantling the EPO as done presently.
It is to be expected that some of the measures decided by HR will be set aside by the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO in Geneva. That nothing can be static is certain, but the reasons which lead and decided people to join EPO cannot be unilaterally amended. It just will take time.
Whilst most of the examiners are still trying to be proud of what they do, it is not certain that they will be able to cope with the increased pressure without lowering quality.
One fact is that the highest producing cluster had in the past the highest recognised rate of errors: up to 15% for searches and up to 25% for grants. Why are such figures not published?
It is sad to see how a successful European institution has become the playground of would be "managers".

Anonymous said...

BB has a point. In the absence of any proof that the recent or earlier suicides were related to the working conditions at the EPO, it is most unwise for either the unions or the commenters here to try and make political capital out of these sad events.I have noted thar SUEPO now includes a link to a French press article relating to a number of suicides at France Telecom. Clearly SUEPO are wishing to draw parallels but on what basis?

Wrote H. Bosch

Mork said...

To H. Bosch:

If BB has a point, he should play with open cards in this highly sensitive area. Surely, if there is the slightest hint that the work environment could have played a role in the death of a colleague, then the staff representatives MUST ask for an investigation. This should be completely free of politics, and a normal reaction under these tragic circumstances.

If BB then blocks the staff representatives, what options are open to the staff reps? If they just accept his position, and another suicide follows, they have to deal with their own conscience.

No matter how terrible relationships are between management and staff, this is an area where they should use the last atoms of good will to work together. There is nothing more serious than the death of a colleague and it deserves a proper reaction from both the President and the staff reps. On the evidence available, the bulk of the blame of politicising is with the President.

The thing said...

I think that SUEPO has a lot of information leading to a strong conviction that these suicides have been impacted by the working conditions.
The fact that the colleague in The Hague complained repetitively of the production pressure he could not cope as a new-comer.
The fact that following the suicide several of his close colleague have alerted SUEPO and, may be naively, VP1.
The fact that his directorate was cited by the management as a model of productivity.
Anyhow, the local and central management has prohibited any independent investigation.
In this light I can not blame SUEPO not to be fool enough to bring these evidences public.

Benjamin Farrand said...

One thing that strikes me is that these are issues not restricted to the EPO, but are a very public example of them that have touched a community that feels somehow part of what is going on. These problems are largely attributable to a culture of managerialism that does not only affect the EPO, but many other public and private institutions in which measures of performance such as benchmarking, target-setting, and ranking of employees contributes to an unhealthy working environment.

Employees need to feel that they are valued members of a collective project, rather than being continually set controlling (and often unrealistic) targets for 'productivity' that ultimately end up having the opposite effect. I sincerely hope the problems at the EPO will be resolved, but I do worry that what we are seeing is a more endemic attitude to work-place relations in general, rather than a problem at the EPO specifically (and exclusively).

Anonymous said...

According to SUEPO, the president of the EPO has recently
"Demoted a staff representative for voicing, within the staff representation, concerns
about a possible managerial responsibility for the suicide of another colleague in 2012.He demoted the employee in spite of the unanimous recommendation of the Disciplinary Board to stop the procedure for abuse of process and unfounded claims" http://www.suepo.org/public/su14294cp.pdf

Battistoritelli

Dilbert said...

The stated purpose of Battistelli's reform is increasing the number of granted patents. This benefits the coffers of both the EPO the national Offices by inceasing the amount the renewal fees collected each year.
Let me make a proposal to fill those coffers even faster: remembering that the registration of European Patent Attorneys is a matter for DG 5, why not introduce an "incentive" for attorneys to file more applications - any European patent attorney who does not achieve the annually rising targets set by the office management in complete ignorance (so, what's new) of what drawing up a patent application involves, gets a couple of warning letters and then gets struck off the register.
It might even need this new scheme to expose the Battistelli fallacy (i.e., more is better) by showing that - above a reasonable workload - the quantity of patents granted is to a first approximation inversely proportional to their quality.

EPO Observer said...

" Clearly SUEPO are wishing to draw parallels but on what basis?"

H. Bosch, as I understand matters the point that SUEPO is trying to make is along the following lines:

FT is (or was) a company with over 100K employees. Based on what I have read about the FT case, there were ca. 60 suicides over a three year period.

This led to a proper official investigation and "consequences" for the managers on whose watch these tragic events occurred.

The EPO is a ... well not exactly a company as such ... more of a public sector body with approx. 7000 employees. At the EPO, there have been four (known) suicides over a period of about two to three years (by my estimate).

If you "do the math" you will see that the figures for the suicide "rate" are somehow comparable to those at FT (i.e. in proportional terms even if the total at the EPO is much smaller).

But in contrast to FT, the "management" of the EPO can hide behind a cloak of "immunity" (coupled with copious amounts of frantic "spin").

In other words, in the case of the EPO "immunity" (de lege) = "impunity" (de facto).

SUEPO is being accused of trying to "instrumentalise" private tragedies for political purposes.
But as other commentators have said, if these really are purely "private tragedies" with no work-related aspect why is management afraid of an independent investigation.

And by that I mean a truly "independent" investigation, not one conducted by the EPO's "internal investigation unit" which is completely under the control of the President.

Anonymous said...

From comm. 70:


"It is unjust towards our deceased colleagues, particularly since some of the information appears to be factually inaccurate and suggests a link to tensions within the Office when there is actually no such evidence from the facts on record."

How can confidential data kept on file by the administration be considered as "inaccurate" ?

Concerned said...

H. Bosch,
I agree that politicising a colleague's suicide would be deplorable. But I also think that not doing all you can to prevent a repetition is also to be deployed. As a distant colleague i have no idea what lady behind the events. But i would hope that all steps would be taken to find out. For those who may have contributed on any way to his actions to deny an independent look at the background does not reassure me. I don't need to know the facts but i would like to know that steps are being taken to prevent any repetition. That is not political - that is supporting other colleagues who are also feeling stress or despair. I am sorry that the president takes this personally but i do feel concern about some of my colleagues for whom current management decisions are having an effect.

Macavity said...

To Old Man of the EPO

Check the statute (article 84 and preceding). The lump sum - which is not an insurance policy - is payable in the event of death of a permanent employee. There are no exclusions (yet) as to the cause of death.

So if the EPO did indeed not pay the lump sum in this case, it is only due to the overwhelming pettiness of the BB administration.

It will force the family of this employee to sue all the way to Geneva to receive what they are entitled to.

And Benoît Battistelli has the gall to talk of the suffering of families.

Anonymous said...

Article 20(1) of the protocol of privileges and Immunities of the EPOrg:
"The Organisation shall co-operate at all times with the competent authorities of the Contracting States in order to facilitate the proper administration of justice, to ensure the observance of police regulations and regulations concerning public health, labour inspection or other similar national legislation, and to prevent any abuse of the privileges, immunities and facilities provided for in this Protocol."

According to Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, the Dutch labour inspection is trying to investigate the suicide in The Hague, but is being blocked by EPO management...

Lawless

Anonymous said...

Cat on a hot tin roof quotes…

On the dark nights, on the stormy nights, you can hear him. He passes like the wind, and the flapping and fluttering of his great cloak, beating like gaunt wings. And the thunder of his horses' hooves is loud, and loud, and louder! At the midnight hour, down the road that leads to Sleepy Hollow, across the bridge, he goes galloping, galloping, galloping. Always searching, always seeking. And if you stand on the bridge at the wrong hour, the hour when he rides by, his great cloak sweeps around you! He swings you to his saddle bow. And then forever you must ride. And always his cold arms around you, clasping you into the cavity of his bony chest. And then, forever, you must ride, and ride, and ride - with the Headless Horseman.

The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Anonymous said...

Benjamin Farrand said...

"These problems are largely attributable to a culture of managerialism that does not only affect the EPO, but many other public and private institutions in which measures of performance such as benchmarking, target-setting, and ranking of employees contributes to an unhealthy working environment."

,,and basically, its all engendered by a management culture wherein confidence exceeds competence,,

Anonymous said...

The silent majority quotes…

Come, let us build us a tower whose top may reach unto the stars! And on top of the tower we will write the words: Great is the world and its Creator! And great is Man! ...but the minds that had conceived the Tower of Babel could not build it. The task was too great. So they hired hands for wages. But the hands that built the Tower of Babel knew nothing of the dream of the brain that had conceived it. BABEL! BABEL! BABEL! One man's hymns of praise became other men's curses. People spoke the same language, but could not understand each other..."HEAD and HANDS need a mediator." "THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN HEAD AND HANDS MUST BE THE HEART!

Metropolis (1927) (Silent film)

Cat's paw said...

,,and basically, its all engendered by a management culture wherein confidence exceeds competence,,

With the further problem at the EPO that the brass neck of the management culture is protected from having to face the consequences of its mistakes by the protective mantle of "immunity" ...

The International Court of Justice gets a fleeting mention in Article 24(3) of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities but only in the context of selecting arbitrators for arbitration proceedings involving the EPO member states.

Unfortunately no role has been assigned to the ECJ for arraigning senior managers of the EPO ... :-(

Dilbert said...

Its quite simple - the EPO is suffering a severe attack of managits

Dilbert said...

Sorry, I just spotted a typo in my previous post:
"mangits" should of course have read "managitis"
Managitis, like its close name sake meningitis, is a decease that affects the head, in the case of managitis the head of an the affected organisation. Both can be fatal, in the case of managitis to the organisation. In both cases swift remedial action is called for to halt and reverse the course of the disease. This is made more difficult in the case of managitis because the treatment has to be generally non-medical, although there is the possibility of stopping the disease through radical surgery.

Old man of EPO said...

Just a reminder that today is the day that the AC, the EPO management and the staff Unions (incl. SUEPO) come face to face for the meeting decided upon at the AC meeting last month (time flies...). Here's hoping that the Kat can ease her way in to the undoubtedly welcoming company. Alternatively, she can sit outside the door and wait to see who storms out first, depending on how open and honest the attendees are meant to be.

Anonymous said...

Willy Wonka said...

The suspense is terrible! I hope it will last...

Anonymous said...

I wonder if or when the staff members who were at that meeting will face disciplinary action by the EPO ,

please state your guess

Anonymous said...

Mosquito on the wall says...

I know what went wrong EB is since a while in charge of the EPO Health Service and Internal Communication Departments and of course BB has asked her to outsource a bit more. It is obvious that Le Monde got a little bit more information than just the tender documents. Pity it will result in an invalid bid such a shame!

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