Why is it fair that CSOF7’s and 8’s can be declassified?

A recent dispute between the Staff Association and CSIRO management in the Finance area has highlighted the inequity of the provisions of Clause 41 of the Enterprise Agreement. This provision provides for a five yearly performance review, which can result in a CSOF7 or 8 staff member being reverted (declassified) to the level below. While following this dispute, the Staff Association was successful in overturning the reversion of six Finance staff from CSOF7 to CSOF6, the process has inevitably raised the questions: Why is there a five yearly review for staff at these classification levels? Why isn’t the APA process sufficient for staff at all levels?

A printable PDF version of this bulletin, for display on your workplace noticeboard, is available here.

A historical anomaly?

Of course, this issue has a history. For many years, to attain CSOF7 or 8, staff could be offered ‘term promotion’ contracts, many for 3 years, and were reverted at the completion of the contract unless renewal was offered. Two agreements ago, this was changed so these staff would instead have a five yearly review at CSOF7 or 8. While this outcome was far from ideal, it was an improvement for staff subject to term promotions, such as those in Finance.

Is it now time to remove this outdated and inequitable process?

Should we take the next step and have the same rules apply to all classifications, by abolishing the five yearly review provisions in the next Enterprise Agreement? All staff are annually assessed through the APA process in any case, so the five yearly review seems unnecessary and draconian. It can also place a large amount of work and stress on staff and provide opportunities for CSIRO management to cut classifications and costs by attempting to revert staff, including when their performance has not being questioned before.

But what happens if work is no longer required at the CSOF7 or 8 level to justify the position? Isn’t it better to have staff reverted, than being made potentially redundant?

All ongoing CSIRO staff have the capacity to be redeployed to the CSOF level below in the event that their position becomes redundant. So this infrequent circumstance is already covered. There is no need for a five yearly review and potential reversion process for CSOF7s and 8s to deal with this.

What do you think? Please let us know!

The Staff Association is seeking membership feedback on this issue. Let us know what you think by commenting below, or by sending an email to csstaff@cpsu.org.au

What if I’m not a Staff Association member?

Then it’s time to join. Simply fill out a membership form today and hand it to your Staff Association delegate, fax to 03 8620 6347 or scan and email to csstaff@cpsu.org.au

7 thoughts on “Why is it fair that CSOF7’s and 8’s can be declassified?

  1. As a CSOF8 who was appointed at the 8 level directly (and gave up a permanent Professorship at a UK University to do so) I was not impressed by the prospect of having to justify my existence every 5 years. I agree with the article that the APA process should be sufficient to assess performance, otherwise why do we have it?

  2. If the position no longer justified for level 7 or 8, as an employee, I would not mind to be reclassified to a lower level rather than being redundant.
    This is just my opinion. Thank you

  3. Based upon communications with senior management, as I understand it, that the whole term appointment review process is a passive management tool…

    If the staff on terms don’t receive positive review they are automatically reverted to to their substantive position or released from further contract (i.e. not extended) … this allows incompetent managers to passively handle “difficult staff”… the better solution would be to have competent managers using active management method …

    I truly believe we should end all terms and clause 11 appointments and have one class of staff (indefinite CSIRO employees) with one set of performance review tools…

  4. I work in a workshop with 8 other qualified tradesmen and we have been told that no matter what case we put forward we can never get any higher than a level 3. There are trade assistants with no trade qualifications that work in groups that are being paid at level 4 and 5 postions. When we asked HR about our position we were told that the level 7 that manages us has every right to refuse us advancement no matter what case we put forward. I bought this up with a meeting with Megan and was told this practice is against the CSIRO culture as we are encouraged to advance and grow our abilities. So you can see from our point of view (being the monkeys on the lower branches and the view of when we look up) that what is happening to the 7 and 8’s seems to be about right. I am sure there are people on 7 and 8 who deserve their positions but we have not seen any evidence of them. I am sure that when you take on the role of a 7 or 8 you know what the terms and conditions are before you signed on and yet when the conditions have been enforced later on it comes as a shock. We are being told all the time when we complain about our position ” If you don’t like it there is always the gate.”

  5. I think the current arrangement is fair. Staff on high salaries should be performing appropriately, and be seen to be. If they are not able to demonstrate this after five years, then they should return to the lower level. Indeed, for researchers who are stepping back in their productivity as they age, this may be a dignified path. While the APA could provide an avenue for demotion, it is hardly ideal for managers to be asked to make such judgements. Of course, the Staff Association should support members who feel they have been unjustly treated.

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