07 December 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

ILO ruling “vote of no confidence” for Battistelli, says CSC

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Central Staff Committee (CSC) has questioned whether EPO reforms should be carried out by incumbent president, Benoît Battistelli, after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) questioned his impartiality.

In an open letter to the EPO’s head of delegations of the administrative council and the board of the budget and finance committee, the CSC said that it interpreted the ILO’s decision as a “massive vote of no confidence in the president of the office and a warning letter to the administrative council”.

Yesterday’s (6 December) ILO ruling described how there had been a conflict of interest on the part of Battistelli when advising the administrative council on a disciplinary case at the office.

A staff member was accused of disseminating defamatory and threatening messages and material, disclosing nonpublic elements of at least one board of appeal case to third parties, and storing devices qualifying as weapons in the workplace.

The defamation was said to be targeted at Battistelli.

After the employee was initially suspended, Battistelli advised the administrative council to amend Article 95(3) of the Service Regulations to extend the employees suspension with reduced pay beyond the established four-month term.

The ILO said the situation “casts doubt on the president’s impartiality”.

Battistelli is due to leave his post as president of the EPO in mid-2018, but has recently attempted to push through major reforms, including the replacement of permanent employment contracts with five-year fixed term contracts.

In its letter, the CSC said that, prior to the publication of the ILO judgments, “the president of the office managed to convince the administrative council to convene two exceptional budget and finance committee meetings in order to enable him to get his latest proposed reforms approved before the end of his reign”.

It concluded: “The ball is now with the administrative council, which urgently has to answer the following question: should these reforms be left to a president and team having such a record of performance?”

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