Management strategy could delay CSIRO pay negotiations

Management’s reluctance to commence negotiations could result in significant delays to CSIRO’s enterprise bargaining process, the Staff Association has warned.

The news comes as speculation mounts that the Federal Government will announce aggressive new rules targeting the pay and conditions of public sector workers around Australia.

Staff ready to negotiate

The union’s bargaining position – built on the survey responses of nearly a thousand Staff Association members – has been formally endorsed and publicly available since last December.

Despite the best efforts by staff to avoid early delays in the bargaining process, CSIRO management have indicated that their own preparations have been stymied by red tape.

Staff Association representatives recently met with senior CSIRO management seeking a start date for negotiations, aimed at replacing the current agreement which is due to expire in August.

The meeting followed repeated requests from the union for management to set a date for the commencement of formal talks.

Management delays

CSIRO Workplace Relations Manager Alex Allars confirmed that management/HR are still to embark on a series of bureaucratic roundabouts before reaching the bargaining starting line.

Ms Allars said that management’s own bargaining position had yet to be finalised, pending the release of a new public sector bargaining framework by the Government – rumoured to target pay and working conditions across the Federal public sector.

Once management’s bargaining position is finalised, Ms Allars stated that formal approval by the CSIRO Executive, CSIRO Board and the Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane was further required. Only at that point would management/HR commit to issuing the Notice of Representation Rights, a Fair Work Act requirement, before bargaining negotiations can commence.

Government agenda

According to reports from the Community and Public Sector Union – citing multiple sources across the public service – the Federal Government had completed the new bargaining framework and commenced briefing agencies.

“The new policy will be called Australian Government Employment and Workplace Relations Policy and will apply to all Australian Public Service (APS) agencies as well as non-APS agencies such as the CSIRO,” the CPSU said in statement.

“It has been through a Cabinet process and could be released within a week.”

It remains unclear whether CSIRO management have been briefed on the new policy.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the new rules represented “a highly-aggressive policy to cut real wages, conditions and rights.”

The public sector union fears that the hostile agenda will include significant cuts to employment conditions and allowances, a requirement for all pay rises to be linked to trade-offs in conditions, severe restrictions on wage increases and tight limitations on what parties are allowed to negotiate.

Report under wraps

Management did confirm that their own survey of staff on pay and conditions at CSIRO – conducted by private consultants Towers Watson – has been completed.

However management declined to release the consultant’s report at this stage.

More information

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