Disastrous situation at the EPO – Response


Brussels, 24 February 2016

Dear Munich Colleagues of the EPO,

You addressed Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) in a letter (24.01.2016). Attached to the letter was a letter to the German Minister of Justice, Mr Maas. Your letter and the attachment confirm the disastrous situation at the European Patent Office (EPO), where even fundamental trade union rights are obviously violated. Redress, be it through action of the Member States of the EPO or through judicial means, does not seem to be available at the EPO. The current crisis at the EPO outsizes any crisis ever experienced at the EPO, even all known conflicts in the European international Public Service.

A number of USF affiliates publicly expressed their solidarity with the staff of the EPO. USF is an affiliate of European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU), the largest federation of public servants in Europe, Public Services International (PSI) and of the European Movement. We know that the exceptional crisis at the EPO came to their attention and that these federations started to act.

USF is also intensively looking at the institutional and legal side of the EPO governance problems (see the USF letter to International Labour Organization (ILO) Director General on the International Labour Organization Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) reform, 25 Jan.2016 on the Union Syndicale Website). The USF 2015 Congress decided to focus on the generally lacking legal protection of employees of the USF affiliates especially in non-EU international or European organisations.

Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) regretted that the Syndicale Union European Patent Office (SUEPO) branch of Munich disaffiliated from USF in 2011. We think the time has come to reconsider this decision. USF would welcome any initiative or step in view of a re-affiliation of a Munich union branch to USF.
USF stays side by side with SUEPO-The Hague and SUEPO-Berlin and all EPO colleagues in this exceptionally difficult situation.

Yours sincerely,

Bernd Loescher


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