Staff at CSIRO’s Griffith Laboratory in the New South Wales Riverina face an anxious wait as management considers a plan to slash research support positions at the site.
CSIRO Human Resources management have confirmed this week that the two positions – a technical support manager and administration support officer – are potentially redundant.
Management said that while consultation with staff at Griffith was underway, a decision had yet to be made.
However, this appears to contradict comments from CSIRO Chief Megan Clark who said that “the difficult decision has been made to reduce support staffing at the Griffith site.”
Staff Association Lead Organiser Paul Girdler said that the mixed messages were only adding to the anxiety of staff.
“Understandably, staff are upset, concerned and confused.
“There are real fears for the future viability of the Griffith Laboratory, as these cuts – if implemented – will reduce the workforce there to something less than a skeleton crew.
“The proposed cuts contradicts CSIRO’s own strategy, which promises to maintain vibrant regional sites with secure futures,” he said.
Mr Girdler said that cuts to support services would limit researcher’s capacity to innovate and any savings to the bottom line might represent a false economy.
“We don’t have any detail from management how support services would be delivered should these positions be lost.
“Up to this point, CSIRO Land and Water management have failed to make a business case beyond the need to pursue savings in line with CSIRO’s Annual Directions statement.
“There are legitimate questions being asked whether outsourcing these services to expensive private contractors will end up costing more in the long run.
“This is an evaluation process that should have occurred prior to any proposal to make staff redundant,” he said.
Many Griffith staff have written testimonials supporting the affected officers and criticising the move to strip onsite support services.
“I sincerely feel that the two officers identified for redundancy at the Griffith Laboratory will have a substantial negative impact on our small regional laboratory, both in term of staff morale and scientific capability,” one colleague wrote.
“The existence of (these) positions allow research staff to concentrate on project delivery… Many of their duties will still need to be done if the positions are made redundant. Who will fill this void?” said another.
Mr Girdler said that management should listen to Griffith staff, take the job cuts off the table and review the issue of support capability over coming months.
“We’ve seen a similar situation at Adelaide’s Waite Campus where a union led campaign forced management to listen to the concerns of staff.
This has resulted in CLW management temporarily abandoning their plan to cut the site support position at Waite, pending a review.
“The staff at Griffith should be afforded the same opportunity. The Staff Association is calling on management to drop their plans to cut these site support positions and instead engage in a thorough review of the situation that balances the concerns of researchers and the ongoing viability of the Griffith Laboratory,” he said.