back to article Strike! European Patent Office staff vote in their thousands for walkout

Staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) have voted overwhelmingly to strike for a third time in a direct challenge to EPO president Benoît Battistelli. Over 91 per cent of the 4,062 employees who voted on Tuesday were in favor of the strike, which was called in large part to protest continued disciplinary hearings against …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Balls. Nailed it.

  3. dan1980

    Setting aside any questions of preferential treatment for patent applicants and focusing on the reasons for this strike, it shows teh bad side of unions and why they can be so despised by people on the other side of the divide.

    I think unions fill a very important role in addressing the huge power imbalance that can often exist between employees employers. Unfortunately, this can (and all too often does) result in unions becoming unreasonable bullies.

    After all, what was being proposed?

    Recognition based on performance rather than pure longevity. While allowing for the fact that such a system can people rewarded for toeing the line and having the right connections (rather than their actual performance), I have worked for and with organisations that determine pay and promotions primarily on longevity and it's not great. The people who are energetic and hard-working tend to either get jaded or simply leave to to find a job where their effort will be rewarded, while those who are promoted tend to be the ones who simply stuck around and didn't make waves or go out of their way to really do anything.

    This change was of course strongly opposed by the union and did so, it seems, in a rather nasty manner.

    Which then prompted a retaliation and here we are.

    It's not a unique story.

    1. RikC

      @Yes, I too think the original intentions to reform are good and the unions here are resistant to what I see as improvement. BUT, the whole way that the execucutive tried to handle it comes across to me as rather poor, relying too much on his position: something not uncommon leadership trying to make up for lack of managements skills by playing the raw power card... And in acting in this way he will have made it harder for his succesor(s) to reform the organisation, so in this case there are only losers in the end IMHO...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There aren't that many members of the Union left, as Battestelli sacked them!, for doing their jobs.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Recognition based on performance rather than pure longevity"

      In a patent office _that_ is extremely dangerous.

      Witness the effect such policies have had on the USPTO over the last 30 years.

    3. farree


      "I have worked for and with organisations that determine pay and promotions primarily on longevity and it's not great. The people who are energetic and hard-working tend to either get jaded or simply leave to to find a job where their effort will be rewarded".

      Question how can anybody judge (about patentability) and be concerned about his career? Imagine a judge who is paid based on number of lifer!

      Nobody is against a performance based bonuses for "the people who are energetic and hard-working", but without "bed worker" would not be "hard worker" and we are an administration and not a company.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, dan1980, you clearly no NOTHING about the current situation. If you did, you would not have posted anything quite as simplistic as your so-called "analysis".

      The current situation is that we at the EPO are governed by a thoroughly unpleasant person, who has surrounded himself with like-minded individuals and is hell-bent on violating pretty much every European law there is to get his own way. Sack staff reps: check. Use illegal surveillance techniques: check. Leak confidential information to the tame press: check. Try to circumvent the EPC to sack someone without due process: check. Punish the sick: check. As it stands we have ZERO protection from the excesses of higher management...

      Or perhaps you think these are trivial matters, not worthy of protest...?

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    How to measure performance

    What is better: 1,000 software patents rubber stamped per day or one software patent permanently rejected per month?

    I applaud Battistelli and the union leaders finally doing something useful about the vast number of troll patents approved each day. Lets hope they can keep this up for at least a year.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Wrong man for a hard job

    Getting any group of people used to progress by seniority to accept that now they'll have to accept to have their progress impeded by actual performance is not an easy task. It requires patience, diplomacy, tact, strength but not bull-headedness, and a whole lot of scheming plus the ability to compromise.

    Apparently, Battistelli has none of those qualities. He went with the bulldozer, and now everything is a shambles.

    Somebody will have to get the message across, though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong man for a hard job

      I find it charming that you think their pay would have been based on their performance.

      Haven't you ever been part of a staff appraisal system before?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong man for a hard job

      Sounds like you've found Jeremy Hunt's next job...

    3. cortland

      Re: Wrong man for a hard job

      "Somebody will have to get the message across, though."

      They can't; there's a patent on the method.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "fixed wage rises and promotions tied to seniority rather than performance"

    So lazy guy who's been here 20 years and is crap gets a raise + automatic promotion instead of hard working guy who's been here for less ?

    Vested interests and dinosaurs....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Vested interests and dinosaurs....

      That's European unions all over - you thought UK unions were bad then you haven't crossed paths with their continental cousins....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Well as someone living in France and having to fight a vast array of train strikes today... I can say, I absolutely know what you are talking about. Hell, they even still a communist party here - and some of its member are elected officials that run entire towns!!!!!

    2. DropBear

      As opposed to "how many wheelbarrows of dirt have you moved today", white-collar industries have yet to invent any performance measurement system that isn't utter shite and just a blunt tool for the HR acolytes to bludgeon people they don't like with. So you will excuse me for not enthusiastically supporting a move to anything like that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bribing people to support him!

    How can you work for an organisation, where the so called President is trying to bribe senior managers and directors, and vice presidents to support him against his fight with the Administrative Council, Unions and staff?

    I happened to be in an area last week, where a vice president was speaking with some directors, and l heard him say "The president will reward you for your support during this matter". What is that meant to mean, that the President is paying for support, as he knows that he has overstepped the mark this time, and certainly not the first time. Unfortunately, it is not his personal money that he pays with, no it's the office money, which he is giving away as though there is an endless supply.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Over 91 per cent of the 4,062 employees who voted"

    How many employees have they got ?!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: "Over 91 per cent of the 4,062 employees who voted"

      According to this report circa 7,000

      So potentially 50~52% of staff have voted in favour of the strike.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Over 91 per cent of the 4,062 employees who voted"

        Not all employers are allowed to vote.

        Anyway it states that 91 per cent of the 4062 employees who voted, voted to strike.

        We have had enough, as now the Vice Presidents are using bribery as their new weapon. "You support the President, and l will see that you are rewarded".

        Time for a change, not just the President, but also the Vice Presidents!

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