30 November 2017
Munich
Reporter: Barney Dixon

EPSU calls for halt to EPO fixed-term contracts


The European Public Service Union (EPSU) has penned a letter to the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Administrative Council chairman, Christopher Ernst, asking the council to reject new renewable five-year fixed-term contracts.

Proposals brought by outgoing EPO president Benoît Battistelli in October, which would scrap permanent employment contracts for all new staff in favour of the fixed-term contracts, were promptly rejected by the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO), which described the move as “Kafkaesque”.

In its letter, EPSU said that a new employment framework that “takes into account the needs of workers, their rights and improves health and safety and well-being, and at the same time seeks to strengthen the work of EPO,” would be worthwhile, but said this would best be done through social dialogue and negotiations rather than imposed precariousness.

It said that the proposed model was “dubious”, increasing the risk of corruption.

“This undermines EPO as part of the European public service in which people in Europe can have confidence for its expertise, high standards and independence,” the letter said.

EPSU added that the move would make it more difficult for the new president of the EPO, António Campinos, to have a proper social dialogue and would set him up for failure.

Campinos will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2018.

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