A plan by management to axe a vital research support position located at Adelaide’s Waite Campus has met stern resistance, with CSIRO staff mobilising in opposition to the proposed redundancy.
Led by Staff Association members, the workplace campaign to save the job of Toney Hirnyk – the site support engineer at Waite – has received widespread support from local employees, especially scientists concerned that their research will suffer if research support levels are slashed.
Staff Association Section Councillor Sonia Grocke said that management’s plan was deeply unpopular.
“There’s been an outpouring of support for Toney from staff here at Waite, it’s been quite extraordinary,” Ms Grocke said. “This plan by management to make further cuts to site support has really struck a nerve with researchers.”
“We’ve received dozens of messages of support for Toney, detailed testimonials that illustrate not only the importance of this role that supports innovation and research, but the unique combination of skills and experience that Toney applies in his work.
“This union campaign to protect support services at Waite really demonstrates why Staff Association membership is so important,” Ms Grocke said.
“Toney Hirnyk has a unique skill set that provides essential support to the staff at the Waite Campus. In addition to his technical skills, Toney understands the nature of the research undertaken here and communicates well with staff of all levels,” one researcher wrote.
“Toney has specialist skills in electrical systems and is also a talented metal and wood worker and innovative fabricator. Toney also has an extensive understanding of scientific instrumentation and experimental practices. This enables him to provide optimal technical advice and support,” wrote another.
Many staff questioned the logic of removing effective, efficient in-house support only to purchase replacement services through expensive, off-site private contractors.
“I can certify that Toney’s assistance has been invaluable over the last few years to help with fixing expensive equipment at a fraction of the cost of doing it through a private contractor,” said one colleague.
“Outsourcing this kind of work to similarly qualified people e.g. electricians, fabricators, tool makers, fitters and turners, would be significantly more expensive,” said another.
Ms Grocke said that in addition to the testimonials, Staff Association members had been circulating a petition calling on management to retain the site support engineer position at Waite.
“Again, there’s been an amazing response in support of Toney. We’ve collected over seventy five signatures on a petition calling on management to abandon this short-sighted decision.
“I’d strongly encourage all staff who signed the petition – but who have yet to join the union – to take the next step and join the Staff Association, today. It would send a powerful message to management that CSIRO staff are united and deserve to be respected in the workplace.
“The petition and testimonials have now been presented to management. We’re hopeful that the strong support for the position – and our colleague Toney – will persuade the key decision makers to have a re-think,” she said.
Ms Grocke said that the issue would be discussed at a meeting with management later this afternoon.