European Patent Office must respect workers’ rights

17 May 2017

European Patent Office must respect workers’ rights

Foto: doevos

On 16th May the Dutch Parliament voted in favour of a motion proposed by SP Member Maarten Hijink and the PvdD’s (Party for the Animals’) Esther Ouwehand asking the government to ensure that employees of the European Patent Office (EPO) can take their employers to court in the Netherlands.

At the EPO, workers’ rights are being violated on a grand scale. Union leaders have been laid off, the pressure of work grows with each passing year and workers have to contend with a tyrannical management. Both in its Dutch office in Rijswijk and its headquarters in Munich, pressure of work has already led to several suicides. As things stand employees can only present a complaint to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a process which takes years.

“Foreign Minister Bert Koenders must ensure that people who work at the EPO can take their grievances to court,” insists Hijink. “Oppressing people should not remain unpunished. They must be able to assert their rights.” Because the EPO is an international organisation it is exempt from a great deal of Dutch law under the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, despite its having some 2,700 employees in the Netherlands. ”By amending the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, Koenders could ensure that not just the EPO, but also other international organisations, respect Dutch labour law.”

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