CSIRO and NICTA confirm merger – but where is the money?

handsThe CSIRO Staff Association has issued a warning that the merger between CSIRO’s Digital Productivity Flagship and NICTA may result in significant job losses due a lack of Federal Government funding.

The new entity – called Data61 and to be led by tech entrepreneur Adrian Turner – will be merged into a single CSIRO entity over the next twelve months. In announcing the merger, the Federal Government said the decision would create a ‘digital research powerhouse.’

Government cuts created conditions for merger

“Let’s not forget that last year’s decision by the Federal Government to cease all NICTA funding from June 2016 prompted this merger. In the same budget CSIRO’s funding was cut by $115 million,” said Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski.

“There’s no additional Federal Government funding attached to this announcement. There is a funding shortfall and science jobs are on the line,” Mr Popovski said.

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Funding shortfall

CSIRO management have confirmed that in ‘a worse case scenario’ up to 200 jobs may be lost from the merged entity should additional funding fail to materialise in the next twelve months.

In a briefing document for CSIRO staff, management reveal the existence of ‘a significant funding gap to close (over) the next twelve months’ and plans ‘to seek private and government investment.’ The same document states that ‘the Federal Government is highly supportive of the merge.’

“If the Federal Government is so supportive, where is the funding?” Mr Popovski asked.

Jobs threat

“The Government wants to take credit for the creation of a ‘digital powerhouse’ with no additional funding whatsoever. They’re too stingy to hook the house up to the grid and the end result may be more jobs lost in process.”

Mr Popovski said that the Staff Association would campaign to protect CSIRO jobs and ensure that the same pay and working conditions applied across the whole organisation – including Data61 – once the merger was complete.

“We believe that NICTA staff going into CSIRO should be employed on the CSIRO Enterprise Agreement.

“The employment conditions of all CSIRO staff – including job security, pay, rights and all entitlements – must be secure and the Staff Association will work hard to achieve that outcome,” Mr Popovski said.

Media queries

For additional comment contact anthony.keenan@cpsu.org.au or call 0410 330 764.

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