Friday, 27 April 2018

The Battistelli years

Märpel has a taste for history. She believes that the explanation to present events lies in the past, because in Eponia who controls the past controls the future. Keep this page in your bookmarks, as Märpel shall come back to it in the future.

President Battistelli took his functions in mid 2010. What are the main events of the past years? The site has a nice archive, Märpel looked at the year 2011-2017.

Year 2011 was mainly about reforms of the Pension system, but one event would prove later to have major significance: the Audit Committee was abolished by document CA55/11. The Audit Committee was the main organ to oversee the finances of the EPO.

Year 2012 saw the majority of examiners change technical domains under a reorganisation project called "areas of competences". In hindsight, it can be seen as the first indication that technical competence was of no importance to the EPO any more, as examiners were massively assigned to domains they new little about.
Year 2012 also saw the reform of the internal appeals system with circular 342 on investigation guidelines published in December.

With the new appeal system and investigation guidelines in force, things would start to accelerate:
-new strike regulations (circular 347) effectively rendering strikes toothless
-ban on email for staff representatives
-several staff representatives harassed by the new investigation unit
-the GCC (the main committee were staff representatives can discuss with the management) is transformed into a rubber-stamping organ
-first petition from AMBA about independence of the Boards of Appeal.

In 2013 President Battistelli also reinterpreted recruitment procedures to allow him to put French persons in key posts. One of these persons is Laurent Germond (recruited on 9/2013), who would be responsible for relations with the administrative tribunal of ILO. Märpel shall come back to him.
In 2013, contacts took place between Eponia and AT-ILO about the high backlog of EPO cases, which lead to AT-ILO adding a 3rd session per year from 2014 onwards. End of 2013, the registrar of AT-ILO also changed: Mrs Catherine Comtet-Simson was replaced by Mr Drazen Petrovic.

That year saw Merpel publish her first article under the tag "Eponia". It also saw articles in several newspapers and by politicians. The reason was, probably, that 2014 was a difficult year to be staff representative:
-the first of a long series of disciplinary actions was taken against 6 of them
-the new elections rules were rewritten by President Battistelli to use a "single non-transferable vote"
-2 strikes were prohibited by President Battistelli in violation of his own new strike regulations
-a poll run by the independent company "bigpulse" for the staff representation was abruptly terminated in quite surprising fashion, proving that the hand of President Battistelli could reach far beyond the borders of Eponia
-GCC members were prohibited to write dissenting opinions, which effectively made that consultation body a pure rubber-stamping exercise, which lead to the
-suspension of Aurelien Petiaud for actually writing about what happened in that consultative body (Märpel shall come back to that part, as the end judgment -3971- was published in 2018).
That year also saw the first person unceremoniously thrown out of the Isar building by security (Oswald Schröder, then head of public relations) and ended with the most famous member of the EPO boards of appeal (Patrick Corcoran) suffering the same disgrace in december.
As to examiners and formalities, they were told to prioritise searches for early certainty and that they would enjoy 2 days less leave and a new career system in 2015.
President Battistelli mandate was extended in 2014.
Outside of Eponia, in Geneva, AT-ILO new extra session and new registrar started to deal with the backlog by summarily dismissing an extraordinary number of cases. Märpel can only compare the statistics on the number of cases won and lost before 2014 and afterwards.

That year started under the new career system. It also saw a new sickness policy enter in force (President Battistelli refusal to sanction a replacement staff member has engineered a built-in majority for the management (10 - 9) when voting through the health care reforms), but most of the attention of the press and blogs was turned towards the house ban of the board member. Harassment of staff representatives continued with an external firm "control risk" hired to that object (it turned out that they left after only a few weeks, Märpel can only wonder what was required from them for the firm to back off), but the house investigators could still manage to suggest disciplinary measures for 3 of them, which would be effective early...

...when 2 staff representatives were fired and one downgraded: Ion Brumme, Elisabeth Hardon and Malika Weaver.
That year saw also President Battistelli propose a "memorandum of understanding", signed by a minority union and rightlymdescribed as a "blank check" by Suepo (the text is online). Understanding did not last long, however, as a further member of the staff committee, Laurent Prunier, was suspended end of June.
The eyes of the press and blogs were turned to the house ban of the board member, with the administrative council adopting a scaling resolution in March and the enlarged board of appeal noting that President Battistelli violated judicial independence on 15.6. The result of all that at the end of the year was that the boards were transferred to Haar and post-service restrictions imposed to them.
Outside of Eponia, in Geneva, AT-ILO continues issuing more than 90% negative decisions for EPO staff, far more than for any other organisations. It also issued decision 3694, judging the appeal committee inproperly constituted, which basically sent all those cases back to square one. Justice delayed.
And of course, 2016 was also the year the Brexit disorganised the carefully crafted UPC plans.

That year saw President Battistelli having his way in the Netherlands, with the immunity of the EPO confirmed. It also saw:
-an extraordinary number of directors being stripped of managerial functions,
-a new selection procedure for new staff dispensing with input from staff representatives
-the already improperly constituted appeal committee constituted by drawing lots between unwilling staff representatives (one of them was suspended in 2014 for being in that committee, remember?)
-discussion on 5 years contracts for all staff
-Jesper Kongstad, head of the administrative council, resigned
-most of staff moved office, formalities were reorganised, the EPO premises turn to a fortress with X-ray machines at the entrance
-and, to thank staff for having granted an extraordinary number of patents, President Battistelli decided to cut another two days of leave for 2018.

It also saw AT-ILO dismiss the vast majority of EPO cases. But one was won (or was it?): Patrick Corcoran was brought back in post for two weeks, just before his contract reaches its end (judgements 3958 and 3960). The administrative council congratulated itself on a matter successfully closed. Why didn't they renew his contract as a board member? Märpel can only guess.


No comments: