CSIRO facing another round of job cuts, support roles most at threat

Despite initial assurances that the restructure process was not intended to result in significant job cuts, CSIRO management have advised the Staff Association that almost three hundred positions may go, with support roles likely to feel the most pain.

The Staff Association is strongly opposed to management’s plan to cut yet more jobs – which follows the loss of hundreds of ongoing and contract positions over the past year.

Alongside simplification of management structures members have been calling for investment in effective research support services and capability development.

There are real concerns that transferring administrative functions to scientists will reduce efficiency and productivity.

One in ten CSIRO jobs might go

The numbers are deeply depressing. As of 31 March 2014, total staff numbers at CSIRO fell to 6,079 – down from 6,477 positions at 30 June 2013. That’s roughly 400 positions – a combination of cuts to ongoing positions and the non-renewal of term and contract staff.

Another cut of 300 would see staff numbers fall again to approximately 5,800 – a reduction of more than ten per cent based on the 2013 head count.

Communications BD&C and IM&T positions to be slashed 

Management have indicated that they plan to cut communications staff by more than forty per cent – a reduction of between 40 and 45 full time equivalent positions.

“The capability areas affected are spread across all CSOF levels (CSO2 to CSOF7)… the locations of the impacted officers are not yet know. This information will be provided when the process is further progressed,” management state in correspondence to the Staff Association.

There are savage cuts planned for Business Development and Commercial – with twenty jobs on the block – a reduction of almost sixty per cent of current staff numbers.

Information Management and Technology – already the scene of significant cuts – will lose more positions. Struggling to cope with a $3 million cut to their budget, IM&T management have declared their intention to cut 20 jobs, comprised of 15 Library (a mix of collections and information support officers) and approximately five IT/science services positions.

Cuts to support will increase workload pressures 

The Staff Association is concerned that these job losses will threaten CSIRO’s ability to achieve research outcomes within the new structure.

The loss of support roles make it likely that more work will be forced onto scientists at the expense of research.

Increased workloads will escalate stress levels and this additional pressure is likely to have a negative impact on staff health and wellbeing.

Staff Association speaks out 

The Staff Association has spoken out, strongly condemning these latest cuts. Management’s early assurances that the restructure would not descend into a job cutting exercise have been exposed.

“These are the deepest cuts to CSIRO in more than a decade – and appear to preempt the Commission of Audit report and the Federal Budget,” Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski warned.

The Staff Association has called on the Abbott Government to provide certainty for CSIRO by ruling out any further cuts to funding.

Management must follow the rules 

The Staff Association has put management on notice. There must be no return to the bad old days of the ‘spill and fill’ and poor consultation.

CSIRO workers have clear rights under the Enterprise Agreement when it comes to redeployment and redundancy process – and management must play by the rules.

To date, management have agreed to engage in proper consultation – both with potentially affected employees and the Staff Association. Management have also committed to updating the content of staff briefing packs to clearly spell out redundancy and redeployment processes.

Voluntary Redundancy Substitution

The Staff Association won important improvements to redeployment and retrenchment processes in the last Enterprise Agreement including moving the Voluntary Redundancy Substitution (VRS) scheme to the ‘front’ of the redundancy process in order to increase and maximise the number of substitutions.

During last year’s redundancies, more than eighty voluntary substitutions were achieved from the 160 staff signed up to the VRS register.

The Staff Association will continue to keep the pressure on management to properly promote the VRS scheme as formal consultation with potentially excess staff proceeds.

Next steps in the restructure process 

The next layer of the reorganisation process – below flagship level – is now set to occur. This will involve approximately 299 staff – comprising of 154 management and 145 administration positions.

Management have promised to provide details on the number of roles in this next layer in accordance with the consultation, redeployment and redundancy provisions of the Enterprise Agreement.

Assistance for members 

The Staff Association is committed to protecting jobs at CSIRO and assisting members in the workplace.

Management and Staff Association representatives are continuing to meet on a weekly basis as the implementation of the new structure unfolds. Members are invited to email their questions and concerns to csstaff@cpsu.org.au

Staff Association members have access to individual advice and support to ensure their rights are protected, including the proper application of consultation, redeployment and redundancy policies.

Join today 

If you’re not yet a member, join the Staff Association today. For more information about membership, email csstaff@cpsu.org.au, call (03) 8620 6348 or speak to your local Staff Association delegate.

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