Staff at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have stepped up their campaign against cuts to workplace rights and conditions with the Fair Work Commission today granting a union application for a Protected Action Ballot.
CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said “Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement have effectively stalled. The major stumbling block is CSIRO management’s support for the Federal Government’s unworkable bargaining policy, which mandates cuts to working conditions, rights and pay.”
“CSIRO staff are frustrated and dismayed by management’s decision to target their 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.
It is anticipated that the Protected Action Ballot will commence on Friday 27 March clearing the way for industrial action at CSIRO by late April, a few weeks before the Federal Budget.
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 applying for a Protected Action Ballot.
The move towards industrial action in CSIRO mirrors similar action across the public service says Community and Public Sector Union 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 that more and more people are saying we won’t cop this,” said Ms Flood.
“We’re also seeing science workers in public sector agencies such as Geoscience Australia and the Department of Environment moving towards industrial action which demonstrates the widespread opposition to the Government’s chaotic bargaining agenda,” Mr Popovski said.
The Fair Work Commission decision authorises a range of Protected Actions for union members at CSIRO including the use of protest messages, work bans, stoppages and strike action.
Media: For comment contact Anthony Keenan 0410 330 764.