Management at the CSIRO have confirmed that nearly 300 positions could be cut as a result of plans to restructure the organisation.
If the 300 job losses are fully realised, the number of positions lost in CSIRO since last July could top 700 – representing an eleven per cent decline in the workforce based on 2013 levels.
“As a result of our announced changes to our support functions, including business development, commercial and communications, and our operating reforms, I can confirm that we will not be able to offer around 270 to 300 roles,” CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark wrote in an email to all staff.
Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski slammed the decision to axe jobs.
“Staff are greatly concerned about their livelihoods and careers. These are the deepest cuts to CSIRO in more than a decade – and there may be more pain to come in the Federal Budget,” he said.
News of the latest job cuts have coincided with media reports predicting that the Federal Government’s Commission of Audit has recommended a funding cut to CSIRO of between $75-100 million.
Mr Popovski warned that any future funding cuts will directly impact on research.
“If there are budget cuts CSIRO will have to decide what areas of research to get out of,” he said.
Major sites will be hardest hit
Management have provided information to the Staff Association on the locations they expect will bear the brunt of the cuts.
- Read the advice from management here.
More than seventy positions in Canberra could be potentially redundant. Nearly sixty roles may go from Melbourne, with potentially an additional twenty gone from regional Victoria.
It’s anticipated that up to 53 jobs in Brisbane may be surplus to requirements. 31 positions in Hobart are also under threat.
Sydney are forecast to shed up to 27 jobs, with potentially another seven cut from Newcastle and nine from the rest of New South Wales. In the west, 26 Perth jobs are may be impacted.
Public support for CSIRO
The news of the job losses and rumours of further budget cuts has led to an outpouring of support from the general public for the work CSIRO performs, Mr Popovski said.
“CSIRO is trusted and respected by the community and there’s been great praise for CSIRO’s strong track record when it comes to innovation in the press and on social media.”
“Let’s hope the Government is listening,” he said
Staff Association to meet with management
The union is committed to protecting jobs at CSIRO and assisting members in the workplace.
Staff Association representatives will meet with management this week, seeking more details on the proposed job cuts and the process ahead for the further identification of affected roles.
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 procedures.
If you’re not yet a member, join the Staff Association today. For more information about membership, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (03) 8620 6348 or speak to your local Staff Association delegate.
Budget cuts test ‘already stretched’ CSIRO, says chairman
AMID fears the country’s top ¬science agency faces cuts of up to $150 million in next month’s federal budget, chairman and investment banker Simon McKeon has warned that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is already lean as it can get.
CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark yesterday confirmed that up to 300 jobs would go under a restructure of its back-office and support functions.
The CSIRO Staff Association estimates the latest cuts would amount to a loss of 700 jobs since June last year, a reduction of more than 10 per cent to about 5800.
Mr McKeon could not comment on whether CSIRO was preparing for a possible 10-20 per cent cut, but confirmed that ¬contingency planning was well advanced. “We want to be fast out of the blocks on budget night,” he said. “We have to cut our costs to whatever is given us.”
CSIRO depends on the federal government for about 60 per cent of its funding. CSIRO Staff -Association secretary Sam Popovski said the latest cuts meant that any further budget cuts would directly hurt research.
“If there are budget cuts they will have to decide what areas of research to get out of,” he said.
Talk of cuts to the CSIRO comes amid general fears of budget cuts in the science sector. Without a dedicated science minister in the Abbott government, the portfolio is managed by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.
Speaking to the HES, Mr McKeon said the government needed to be wary of cutting spending underpinning the country’s innovation efforts.
“Any nation contemplating cutting the innovation dollar should take a deep breath before doing so,” Mr McKeon said, noting the ongoing commitment to scientific research spending in the US and Britain despite their struggling economies.
“CSIRO is frankly just like any of the private sector businesses I deal with. It isn’t remarkably different from a lean operation ¬focused on the bottom line. It is just that we focus on scientific impact rather than profit,” said Mr McKeon, who is a former Australian of the Year.
“There isn’t a fat cow here that you can take slices off.”
He said while all organisations can be made more efficient, there comes a point where cost cutting inevitably hurts a business and morale drops. He couldn’t say how far off CSIRO was from that “zone”.
In an email to staff yesterday Dr Clark said CSIRO would look to redeploy staff, consider voluntary redundancies and would keep a “tight rein” on external recruitment. She said the job losses would be focused on support functions such as business development and communications. The staff association said more than 150 management jobs and more than 140 administrative staff could go.
“The staff association is concerned that these job losses will threaten CSIRO’s ability to achieve research outcomes with the new structure,” it said. It warned that cuts to support functions would make more work for scientists at the expense of their research. It said it would work with management to minimise compulsory redundancies.