Bargaining battle at CSIRO heats up

The battle to protect working conditions at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO looks set to escalate with news that the union representing staff will prepare an application for a Protected Action Ballot in an effort to break an enterprise bargaining deadlock.

“Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement at CSIRO have effectively stalled, with CSIRO management’s support for the Federal Government’s unworkable bargaining policy – which mandates cuts to working conditions, rights and pay – proving to be the major stumbling block,” CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said.

“CSIRO staff are genuinely frustrated and dismayed by management’s decision to target workplace rights and conditions, especially following the brutal cuts to jobs and research.”

A Federal Government budget cut of $115 million combined with declining external earnings resulted in hundreds of jobs lost, site closures and the abandonment of research. It is estimated that CSIRO will shed almost 1,300 jobs in a two year period, representing a 20 percent cut to the workforce.

New Chief Executive refuses to intervene

Over 1,400 CSIRO staff recently signed a pledge calling on Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall to reject the proposed cuts to working conditions and rights. While acknowledging the ‘challenging times’ facing CSIRO, Dr Marshall has stated that management will continue to implement the Government’s regressive bargaining agenda.

Examples of CSIRO management’s proposed cuts include:

  • Slashing redundancy by eight weeks of paid entitlements and cutting income maintenance and retention provisions
  • An increase in total working hours
  • 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 staff join public sector workers in calling for change

Staff Association members recently met in a series of national membership meetings to consider the bargaining impasse, the restrictive role of the Government’s bargaining policy, and the ongoing failure of senior management to stand up for CSIRO staff.

Across the country, Staff Association members called for an escalation of the campaign to protect working conditions and rights by proceeding towards a Protected Action Ballot.

The move towards industrial action in CSIRO mirrors similar action across the public service says CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood.

“CSIRO staff will be joining tens of thousands of other union members in Human Services, Veterans’ Affairs, the ATO, Agriculture and Employment who are all now taking or planning industrial action.

“They are all angry about the Abbott Government’s harsh and unworkable bargaining policy which forces agencies to cut jobs rights and conditions in return for annual pay offers of between 0% and 1% a year.

“This is an unprecedented attack on public sector workers and it’s hardly surprising more and more people are saying we won’t cop this,” said Ms Flood.

It is expected that the application for a Protected Action Ballot at CSIRO will be finalised the next fortnight and lodged with the Fair Work Commission shortly thereafter.

“In coming weeks I will work with CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood in lodging an application with the Fair Work Commission.” Mr Popovski said.

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