Widespread concern at proposed changes to CSIRO Postdoc program

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CSIRO’s proposal to change the organisation’s Postdoctoral Fellow program has been met with widespread concern from staff and consistent criticism at the lack of adequate consultation.

The controversial changes – involving the introduction of new procedures for Postdoctoral Fellows (postdocs) not consistent with enterprise agreement working conditions – have created significant disquiet among the wider CSIRO workforce.

Responding to issues raised by Staff Association representatives, CSIRO Human Resources (HR) have now released an updated procedure as part of a revised and extended consultation process slated to run until mid-April 2019.

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CSIRO staff support School Strike for Climate

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The CSIRO Staff Association – representing hundreds of the world’s leading scientists on climate change and the environment – has announced support for the Australian School Strike 4 Climate on 15 March 2019.

School Strike 4 Climate Australia – a student led activist network from cities and towns across the country – have declared a national strike on Friday 15 March to “tell our politicians to take our futures seriously and treat climate change for what it is – a crisis.”

“Climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of our planet and to the sustainability of future generations,” CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said.

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Call for action against sexual harassment in Australian science

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Survey results suggesting that more than one third of Australian science workers have experienced sexual harassment have prompted calls for an national action plan to address the issue.

The survey – conducted by peak representative organisation Science and Technology Australia (STA) – involved nearly three hundred responses from across the sector.

“Our survey has received reports of sexual harassment at conferences, in laboratories, in offices, and in the field,” the report states.

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Staff Association questions CSIRO staffing cap

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The Staff Association has sought an explanation for the continued, rigid application of a staffing cap at CSIRO despite several instances across the organisation where increased external earnings and workloads require additional resources.

Following discussion at last December’s Consultative Council meeting, Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski wrote to CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall seeking more information on employment restrictions.

“The Staff Association’s view is that there is no way that CSIRO should be subject to staffing caps or restrictions by Government or Government departments,” Mr Popovski said.

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CSIRO clashes with Senate Committee over Murray-Darling strategy

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The controversy over CSIRO’s engagement in Murray-Darling policy boiled over in the Senate recently with a series of tense exchanges between senior politicians and members of the Executive Team.

Water management of the Murray-Darling river system – and the underlying research – has been the subject of intense debate throughout the summer following the mass death of many thousands of freshwater fish near the Menindee Lakes.

While the fish kill events led to two separate scientific studies to explain the catastrophe; the findings of the South Australian Murray-Darling basin Royal Commission criticised both the federal statutory authority charged with management of the rivers and the quality of CSIRO’s participation in the inquiry process.

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CSIRO Staff puts politicians on election notice

Anticipating the imminent announcement of a federal election, the Staff Association has contacted the major political parties seeking policy commitments on a range of issues including CSIRO funding, job security, scientific integrity and fairer enterprise bargaining.

CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski has written to Science and Industry Minister Karen Andrews, Shadow Minister Senator Kim Carr and Green’s spokesperson Adam Bandt seeking election commitments prior to the expected announcement of the federal poll in early April.

“The Staff Association has identified eleven science policy priorities for the upcoming federal election and we’ve invited the Coalition, Labor and the Greens to respond and list any other election commitments regarding CSIRO and its staff, for the information and consideration of our members,” Mr Popovski said.

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CSIRO saw this summer 30 years ago

Across Australia, this summer has been described as the hottest, wettest, dustiest, and generally most extreme on record, but just how unusual was this in context asks Helen Cleugh? 

WITH SMASHED temperature records, one-in-100 year floods, and bushfires raging for weeks on end it’s not a baseless claim. But just how unusual was this summer in a historical context? What role is climate change playing in these extreme weather events? And, importantly, can we expect more of the same?

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CSIRO staff ask chief executive to defy government over staffing levels

Australian Public Service leaders have to work within a strict cap on average staffing levels, even when it seems absurd, but why are independent statutory agencies also applying the limit, asks Stephen Easton. 

THE CSIRO STAFF ASSOCIATION, a division of the Community and Public Sector Union, wants chief executive Larry Marshall to stand up to the government and reject its staff cap, since he alone has the legal right to determine the size of the agency’s workforce, and a large chunk of his budget comes from sources other than taxpayers.

CSA secretary Sam Popovski argues “there is no way that CSIRO should be subject to staffing caps or restrictions by government or government departments” and wrote to Marshall in December, asking why he continues the “rigid application” of the government’s policy to cap the general government sector workforce, excluding the military, at its 2006-07 level.

The independent agency sits in the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio but is not part of the APS, as it operates under its own separate legislation, which clearly states the CEO can appoint whoever he believes he needs to fulfil the organisation’s legislated purposes and determine the terms and conditions of their employment.

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