New year, old problems – Time to consider our options

fork in the road_670Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement at CSIRO seem to be going nowhere, fast. As we begin a new year, it’s becoming increasingly clear that management’s support for the Government’s unworkable bargaining policy is to blame.

It’s time for Staff Association members to consider our options.

Management have had more than a year to consider the Staff Association’s position. We’ve had ten sessions of formal talks with management, totalling dozens and dozens of hours. The previous agreement – while still in operation – nominally expired some six months ago.

It remains to be seen whether new Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall can or will change direction in a bid to rebuild the organisation’s shattered morale.

At any rate, this impasse in bargaining needs to be broken. It’s time for Staff Association members to consider our options.

First jobs, now cuts to working conditions, rights and pay

This current round of enterprise bargaining is very different from any previous in CSIRO’s history. Informed by the Federal Government’s extreme bargaining policy, management’s negative agenda targets hard won rights and working conditions.

Management’s shopping list of proposed cuts includes:

  • Slashing redundancy by eight weeks of paid entitlements and cutting income maintenance and retention provisions
  • An increase in total working hours – based on minutes worked per day
  • Shortening or removing the annual shut down
  • Cancelling an additional day of Christmas leave
  • Increasing the difficulty of salary progression by lifting the test from satisfactory to ‘exceeds expectations’.

CSIRO management also want to ‘streamline’ or strip rights, entitlements and conditions from at least 45 clauses – almost half the content of the agreement – only to be replaced with policy that could be changed at any time, without staff agreement and removed from the jurisdiction of the independent umpire, the Fair Work Commission.

Larry’s got no time to lose

New CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall has put the job of rebuilding staff morale at the top of his list. The Staff Association welcomes Dr Marshall’s acknowledgement of the urgency of the task, however the new boss faces an early and important test when it comes to the future of CSIRO working conditions.

Last November more than 1,300 staff signed a pledge calling on Dr Marshall to support CSIRO by protecting working conditions, rejecting further job cuts and reaffirming the organisation’s independence and integrity.

The impact of cuts has been savage, with one in five CSIRO jobs lost in the space of two years. Confidence in the performance of senior leadership is severely damaged. Dr Marshall has an immediate opportunity to rebuild trust and morale by rejecting the Government’s bargaining policy and the attack on CSIRO working conditions .

What are our options?

Staff Association members have some serious thinking to do. The sentiment clearly and consistently expressed across work sites all over the country – is that an agreement that cuts rights and working conditions is not acceptable.

It’s a view shared by many public sector workers – and they’re starting to take action. Employees at the Department of Employment  – Minister Eric Abetz’s own staff – recently rejected a substandard offer by a resounding 95 per cent margin. Meanwhile at Human Services and Veterans Affairs, CPSU members have voted overwhelmingly to authorise protected industrial action.

There are two more rounds of formal negotiations set to occur over February and the Staff Association will participate constructively and in good faith. In the meantime Staff Association Councillors – your nationally elected workplace representatives – will meet later this month to consider a range of options to resolve the bargaining impasse. This could potentially include moving towards a Protected Action Ballot which – if successful – would clear the way for legally protected industrial action.

It’s time to join

Help protect jobs, research and working conditions at CSIRO by joining the Staff Association. We are stronger and better, together.

Join today by emailing or call (03) 8620 6348 for more information.

2 thoughts on “New year, old problems – Time to consider our options

  1. “Increasing the difficulty of salary progression by lifting the test from satisfactory to ‘exceeds expectations’”.

    So given the Government seems incapable of performing satisfactorily, let alone ‘exceeding expectations’, I presume they’ll be receiving a salary regression?

  2. Hope the union doesn’t suggest an old-fashioned strike, I don’t think that achieves anything but making the point that we’re annoyed. Hopefully we can come up with something better. On another note, I’d be very interested in knowing what the conditions of the ET look like. Juicy is my guess.


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