Staff Association warns that CSIRO cuts will damage Australian science

CSIRO Chief Executive Megan Clark AAPThe union representing CSIRO workers has criticised a management plan to introduce budget and staffing cuts across the nation’s premier science research organisation.

In an email to staff, Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark said that deteriorating revenues would require management to make deep cuts to science research and operations over the next twelve months; likely to result in the loss of more than 200 jobs from the 6,500 strong workforce.

CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said that while management had yet to reveal the full extent of the cuts, the union was concerned that the organisation’s capacity would be seriously damaged.

“The union will be fighting to protect as many scientists and jobs in CSIRO as we can.”

“At this stage, it seems as though the cuts are going to be spread across most of the CSIRO’s major sites and impact on a range of science areas.

“We’ll be seeking more detailed answers when we sit down with CSIRO management early next week,” he said.

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Mr Popovski said that CSIRO makes a significant and far reaching contribution to national prosperity by directly supporting industries, communities and ecosystems across the country.

“This is science in service of the national interest. Australia’s standing as the clever country will be affected – in one way or another – by these cuts to CSIRO.”

“CSIRO supports our agriculture, manufacturing and mining industries. It’s helping us to understand the impact of climate change, how to better manage our water and natural resources.

“CSIRO helps sustain our marine biodiversity; it protects us from emerging diseases, it mitigates the risk from fire, flood and drought.

“CSIRO has a global reputation for innovation; from the celebrated development of wireless technology, discovery of a vaccine for the Hendra virus, to the invention of polymer bank notes or future projects such as the Square Kilometre Array,” he said.

Mr Popovski said one reason for the cutbacks is that industry is investing less money in CSIRO research.

“Particularly in the mining sector there’s been a change – the lag effect of the global financial crisis and the commodity price issue – and this is now impacting on research and development funding.”

The fact that the CSIRO’s budget was in such bad shape – only halfway through a four year funding agreement with the Government – was very concerning, Mr Popovski said.

“We think there needs to be a real assessment of the funding model for CSIRO.

“The Staff Association will also seek an urgent meeting with Science and Research Minister Don Farrell to voice the concerns of our members directly to Government,” Mr Popovski said.

“It’s obviously not sustainable that year upon year there are job cuts coming through into significant research areas.

“The Staff Association is also deeply concerned at the cuts promised by the Coalition – at least 12,000 public sector jobs and anywhere between $50-70 billion in funding – and the potential impact on CSIRO, should Tony Abbott win Government later this year.

Media: For background or to arrange an interview with Sam Popovski, contact Anthony Keenan on 0410 330 764 or email anthony.keenan@cpsu.org.au

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