Improved redundancy rights making a difference

A range of improved redundancy rights – won by the Staff Association during the last round of negotiations – are providing some much need relief to staff caught up in the latest round of job cuts, writes Staff Association Lead Organiser Paul Girdler.

DURING the last bargaining campaign, the Staff Association won important improvements to the existing redeployment and retrenchment process. These included:

  • Moving the Voluntary Redundancy Substitution (VRS) step to the ‘front’ of the process with the clear objective of increasing and maximising the number of substitutions.
  • Abolishing the unfair spill and fill process, replacing it with a better system to operate in any situation where the number of roles available is fewer than the current number.

Improving access to redundancy substitution is an important development and represents a practical and common-sense option during difficult times when choices seem limited.

Subject to skill and capability matching, potentially redundant officers that wish to continue their CSIRO careers have a real chance to do so, while allowing those that wish to leave the organisation access to the full range of separation entitlements.

The union negotiated improvements to VRS and the way in which redundancies are identified has already had a profound influence on this latest round of  redeployment and redundancies.

We’ll have a clearer picture once the process draws to a close, but so far the results indicate the changes have made a difference.

Some 82 Voluntary Redundancy substitutions have been made from a total of 160 staff who placed themselves on the Voluntary Substitution Register. This result has significantly mitigated the impact of these redundancies.

Credit must be given to CSIRO management for their extensive marketing of VRS and providing education about the substitution process in most business units.

Staff Association members also report that while the current process for identifying potentially redundant individual positions from a group isn’t always perfect, in an overall sense there’s been a definite improvement on what’s occurred in the past.

Consultation and communication – whilst poor in a small number of Business units – again has improved significantly compared to previous rounds.

Another recent development has been the Staff Association’s success in securing a review of contractor positions in CSIRO.

This has delivered some early gains. We know of somewhere between six to ten positions – previously outsourced – are now being converted to CSIRO positions and we’re hopeful this number may rise 30 new positions over the next two years.

As a union, we should acknowledge the contribution of our delegates who have worked tirelessly in difficult circumstances.

Staff Association delegates play a vital and important role in educating, supporting and representing individual members and resolving process issues.

There is still more work to be done to protect jobs at CSIRO and heal the deep cuts this latest redundancy round has inflicted.

However it’s worth remembering – especially as we will soon begin preparations for the next bargaining campaign – how improvements won at the negotiation table can have a big effect in the workplace.

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