Union Calls “Flash Demo” After EPO Fires Another Union Representative 07/11/2016 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) called a 7 November “flash” demonstration in Munich after the office fired Laurent Prunier, SUEPO secretary in The Hague. The move dismayed employees encouraged after the Administrative Council (AC), made up of the office’s member states, last month pressured President Benoît Battistelli into backing off from two unpopular proposals for investigating and disciplining staff. European Patent Office, The Hague In a 4 November communiqué to staff, Battistelli noted that in December 2014, a member of the union’s Central Staff Committee resigned his position because he “no longer enjoyed the serenity and freedom to exercise his mandate, following some events which impacted upon him personally.” Several known facts surrounding the resignation “appeared to potentially qualify as harassment and other breaches” of the office’s service regulations, leading to an investigation, he wrote. The findings led to a disciplinary procedure against a staff representative in The Hague in which the disciplinary committee found a campaign of harassment against the staff representative by “exclusion, isolation and intimidation,” Battistelli said. “The case of the forced resignation of this staff resignation was well known and had further consequences; it was used as a threat by some staff representatives against other staff representatives in Munich, who would have exposed themselves to the action of the ‘snipers of The Hague’, if they refused to follow some instructions,” the president wrote. It also led to another disciplinary case earlier this year in which dismissal was also recommended, he said. Because “freedom of thoughts and expression and diversity of opinion are highly respected and valued rights at the EPO,” Battistelli decided to follow the recommendation of the disciplinary committee and fire the person concerned, he wrote. Laurent was suspended in June, he noted in a 1 September letter to colleagues. He denied any wrongdoing, charging that “the file against me contains so many demonstrably fabricated accusations that I have little doubt I can defend myself – or, rather I would be able to if our internal system were not what it is currently, a kangaroo court.” He said he was essentially under house arrest and was being kept afloat financially by colleagues. The communiqué “is another example of an attempt of character assassination made by the president,” a source known as “epoinsider” told Intellectual Property Watch. Battistelli linked two disciplinary cases, the one against Prunier and one against Elizabeth Hardon, via the term “snipers of the Hague,” the source said. While the dismissal wasn’t unexpected, many employees had hoped that Battistelli would “respect the clear words from several delegations,” particularly Switzerland, France, the UK and the Netherlands, at the last AC meeting that he should refrain from taking a decision on pending disciplinary matters, epoinsider said. The AC had asked Battistelli in March 2016, http://www.hipo.gov.hu/en/news/sztnh-hirek/hirek-esemenyek/147th-meeting-of-the-administrative-council-of-the-european-patent “pending the outcome of this process and before further decisions in disciplinary cases are taken, to inform the AC in appropriate detail and make proposals that enhance confidence in fair and reasonable proceedings and sanctions.” The president “is now in clear breach of this resolution,” epoinsider said. In response to Prunier’s firing, SUEPO called a demonstration in Munich. Under International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal rules, staff representatives are to settle their internal disputes themselves, without interference from the administration, said the union. “The constant disciplinary attacks on staff representatives are likely to destroy the staff representation since it removes those who are most active and will discourage anyone critical of Mr. Battistelli to stand for subsequent elections,” SUEPO said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Dugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."Union Calls “Flash Demo” After EPO Fires Another Union Representative" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.