Judgment No. 4434
1. The President’s Communiqué No. 41 of 21 November 2013 is set aside.
2. The EPO shall pay each of the complainants 6,000 euros as moral damages.
3. The EPO shall pay the complainants, collectively, 8,000 euros for costs.
4. All other claims are dismissed or are moot.
The complainants challenge the refusal to organise a strike ballot under the new rules governing the exercise of the right to strike at the European Patent Office.
complaint allowed; decision quashed; right to strike
[F]our members of the staff of the EPO filed complaints in the Tribunal. The subject matter of the complaints was identical and one brief was filed in support of all of them. In these circumstances the complaints are joined so one judgment can be rendered.
The President was the author of Circular No. 347. He could readily have made express what the EPO now argues is implied in the new regime (the appointment of interlocutors) or made clear what is, at best, cryptically embedded in paragraph 4 of Circular No. 347 (mandatory discontinuity of a month). He did not, and there is no warrant for interpreting Circular No. 347 in the way proposed by the EPO.
There is simply no reference to interlocutors and the scheme of regulating industrial action operates as a cohesive whole without the implication proposed. Indeed it can scarcely be suggested that the scheme is one directed to the resolution of industrial disputes including their amicable settlement. Were that so, one could have expected detailed procedures for dispute settlement involving discussion and even mediation. But they are singularly absent.
patere legem; right to strike
The complainants are entitled to moral damages for the decision of the President not to hold a ballot for a strike they and others called for in accordance with the provisions of Circular No. 347, which constituted an abuse of power in that the President purported to exercise a power which he did not have. The President’s conduct involved a significant and unilateral derogation of the complainants’ right to strike even as arising under the materially constraining scheme in Circular No. 347 and CA/D 5/13. These moral damages are assessed in the sum of 6,000 euros for each complainant.
moral injury; right to strike; misuse of authority; abuse of power