The CSIRO Staff Association is concerned that a proposed 20 per cent cut to staff working in the Health and Safety and Environmental Sustainability (HSE) advisory function will increase workload pressure on remaining support roles and result in less time researchers can devote to science.
The proposed 20 per cent cut to HSE roles is being justified due to the loss of 1 in 5 CSIRO staff over the past two years, following a Government funding cut of $115 million in last year’s federal budget and a sweeping internal restructure that has resulted in some 1,300 jobs cut.
CSIRO management estimate that the cuts will translate to the loss of five to six HSE advisors from across Australia, including NSW, ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
In a letter to CSIRO management, Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski criticised the rationale behind the decision.
“The Staff Association believes that the rationale for the decision is flawed. We have yet to be provided with evidence that indicates that there is, or will be, less work for HSE advisors to perform now relative to two years ago. In fact, many of our members are reporting to us, increased HSE issues in parts of CSIRO,” Mr Popovski wrote.
Mr Popovski writes that the cuts could result in increased workloads for remaining HSE staff and line managers.
“We know that systems and culture are not yet in place to manage this change adequately. We believe that workloads will further intensify amongst HSE staff as well as staff in general… we believe that a significant amount of HSE work will forcibly shift to other staff, including those in management positions and those performing corporate citizenship roles.”
The increased workloads could see standards suffer and HSE risks, both organisationally and in terms of individual wellbeing, could increase, Mr Popovski warns.
Management committed to ZERO HARM
In a response to the Staff Association, HSE General Manager Heather Campbell claimed that the “proposed changes to the HSE structure are designed to realign the HSE resources to provide enhanced support.”
“We are fully committed to our aspiration of ZERO HARM and thus to the safety and wellbeing of our staff, partners and customers,” Ms Campbell wrote.
CSIRO management have confirmed that affected staff would be eligible for redeployment and access to the Voluntary Redundancy Substitution scheme.
Support for Staff Association members
In opposing the HSE job cuts, Mr Popovski urged CSIRO management to rethink the decision.
“The Staff Association calls on the CSIRO Executive to reconsider the rationale behind the proposed change. The Staff Association is also seeking genuine transparency in monitoring and reporting on changes to HSE standards and risks that may result from any decision to reduce the number of HSE advisor positions.”
Members of the Staff Association that may be affected by the changes are eligible for individual support and representation. Contact your local delegate, organiser or email firstname.lastname@example.org