A plan to freeze recruitment at the CSIRO – which could result in nearly 1,400 term and casual employees lose their jobs due to the non-renewal of contracts – could jeopardise vital research at Australia’s premier science and research organisation.
The CSIRO Staff Association says that the latest cuts follow the loss of more than 200 positions earlier this year, with management then citing pressure on external revenues and private sector investment.
Next generation of innovation under threat
Sam Popovski, the Secretary of the CSIRO Staff Association said that the latest cuts would harm Australian innovation.
“Recent examples of CSIRO innovation are as diverse as Australia itself – from new software to more accurately predict the spread of bushfires to a new process enabling three-dimensional printing of customised shoes for racehorses.
“Our smartphones are powered by Wi-Fi technology pioneered by CSIRO. Even our plastic banknotes – that’s polymer currency, another CSIRO innovation.
“How can CSIRO develop the next generation of Australian innovation if their capacity to conduct research and development continues to be cut?” Mr Popovski said.
Potential job loss numbers remain unclear
The Staff Association is in discussions with management concerning the likely impact of the cuts however significant questions as to the size and duration of the recruitment freeze, remained unanswered.
“Management have been unable – or unwilling – to say how long this interim recruitment freeze will apply,” Mr Popovski said.
“Media reports suggest 550 term and casual positions will be immediately affected. If the freeze continues beyond the next few months, all 1400 term and casual employees could be affected. Many CSIRO employees face a bleak future as term contracts approach their conclusion.”
“We’re calling on management to end the uncertainty and clarify the length of the restriction and how many employees will be affected.”
Federal Government must act
Mr Popovski said that the Federal Government needed to adopt a strategic, sustainable and long-term approach to science funding, similar to the position advocated by the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb.
“The Staff Association recently wrote to Industry Minister Ian McFarlane, seeking a meeting.
“The Minister was unavailable at that time however we will contact his office again to seek an urgent meeting concerning these latest CSIRO cuts.
“The Federal Government has a responsibility to ensure the future viability of science and research in Australia, especially the work conducted by Government-funded laboratories such as CSIRO.”
For more information, additional comment or to arrange an interview with Sam Popovski, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0410 330 764.