Union members at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will tomorrow begin protected industrial action to defend working conditions, rights and pay which are currently threatened by the Federal Government’s unworkable bargaining policy.
The action aims to send a message to management and the Federal Government that following massive cuts to funding, jobs and research, any attempt to reduce working conditions at CSIRO will be resisted by staff.
Last year’s federal 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.
Work bans begin 30 April
Following another fruitless negotiation meeting with management, union members will commence protected industrial action onThursday 30 April 2015. CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said that the work bans were not designed to harm science, targeting cooperation with senior management instead.
“The work bans will target management red tape and government reporting. These include limitations on the recording and supply of efficiency data, attending face-to-face meetings with management and working any unpaid overtime.
“If senior management won’t stand up for CSIRO staff and continue to attack working conditions, they cannot reasonably expect their cooperation in measuring their scientific efficiency,” Mr Popovski said.
It is expected that the bans will remain in operation throughout May unless CSIRO management indicate a change in position.
Working conditions under threat
Despite staff morale plummeting to record lows, CSIRO management has insisted on applying the Federal Government’s hostile public sector bargaining policy which mandates cuts to working conditions, strips away legal rights and protections in return for pay increases of between 0 – 1 per cent per year. 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.
The start of industrial action at CSIRO comes as tens of thousands of public sector workers begin to push back against the Government’s unworkable bargaining policy.
“You can tell a lot about a Government by the way it treats its workforce. Not content with cutting 11,000 jobs last year this Government is now attacking workplace rights and conditions and pay in the public service,” said Community and Public Sector Union National Secretary Nadine Flood.
CSIRO is one of 15 public sector agencies/departments that are taking or planning industrial action including Agriculture, Tax, Human Services, Veterans’ Affairs, Environment, Employment, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Institute of Criminology, Bureau of Meteorology, Customs and Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
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