Illustration: Kunal Mehta /
20 March 2014Biotechnology

EPO staff set to strike for seven days

Staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) will strike for seven days, starting this week, it has been confirmed.

The staff, who are unhappy about various internal problems at the office, will walk out on March 21, 24 and 25, and April 14, 15, 16 and 17.

More than 4,000 of the office’s 6,000 workers voted on the proposals, with around 90 percent voting in favour of taking action.

In a statement, EPO spokesman Oswald Schröder confirmed strike action is to take place, adding that the right to strike is guaranteed in the organisation’s service regulations.

“As on similar occasions in the past, the EPO will ensure that neither the quality of its services nor the continuity of their delivery is affected by the announced industrial actions," he added.

According to the IPKat blog, staff at the Munich-based office have highlighted six grievances, which have been referred to as PEACES.

They are: presidential communication (P), e-mails, with a call for a block on union-related mail-outs to be lifted (E), adoption of social democracy (A), changes to the office’s disciplinary committee (C) and that strike regulation changes be withdrawn (S).

Presidential communication refers to EPO president Benoît Battistelli, who has allegedly been criticised for his trivialisation of unrest within EPO headquarters.

When WIPR spoke to Battistelli last year, he rejected concerns that the countries represented by the organisation were not sufficiently represented among the staff.

Battistelli said at the time that he was “quite aware” of the sensitivity of the issue, which existed “not only at the EPO.”

“As a technical organisation delivering services to all sectors of the industry, our primary concern is to hire the best qualified staff. This important principle is widely supported by the Administrative Council of the EPO, where all our member states are represented with an equal weight according to the ‘one country, one vote’ rule we applied,” Battistelli added.

“There are already 32 different nationalities represented at the EPO, which constitutes a very good record. Between two candidates with the same level of qualification, we would prefer to pick the one having the nationality that is less represented at the office.”

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