Independent umpire convinces CSIRO Executive to play by the rules

cricket_umpireAn agreement brokered at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) will force Larry Marshall and senior executives to genuinely consider staff feedback before formalising redundancies at CSIRO.

While Dr Marshall’s controversial plan to cut more than 400 jobs from CSIRO remains on the table, the Chief Executive will now consider the views of staff as part of a revised process that will include a written response to all staff providing greater detail on decision making processes.

Fair Work Commissioner Nicholas Wilson has issued a statement setting out the next phases of the consultation process agreed to by Executive and the Staff Association while offering to provide further mediation as the CSIRO job cuts dispute continues.

The statement follows a request from the Staff Association for CSIRO to provide sufficient time and clear reporting mechanisms to give genuine consideration to staff feedback raised as part of the Executive Team’s ‘extension of consultation’ plan.

Jobs battle not over

Staff Association President Dr Michael Borgas welcomed the statement from the FWC but warned that the battle to save CSIRO jobs was not over.

“This statement from the Fair Work Commission goes some way to restoring the integrity of consultative processes at CSIRO however the threat of heavy job cuts remains.

“The Staff Association calls on Minister Pyne to exercise his powers to both suspend any cuts until after the federal election and act immediately by announcing an independent review into  CSIRO’s Executive,” Dr Borgas said.

Reputational damage already done

The irony of CSIRO Executive agreeing to an improved consultation process would not be lost on CSIRO staff, Dr Borgas said.

“If CSIRO Executive and Dr Marshall had followed the rules from the beginning, the extensive damage inflicted on CSIRO’s reputation and staff morale may have been avoided.

“Sadly, the process employed up to date – characterised by secrecy, sophistry and growing scandal – is shaping as a textbook example of the worst way to manage workforce change,” Dr Borgas said.

Key features of the FWC plan

  1. Having received staff feedback – as part of the extension of consultation plan – business units will collate and summarise for inclusion in a business case on the changes within each business unit, for consideration by the Executive Team.
  2. The Executive Team will then consider the respective business cases on their merits, including the collated and summarised staff feedback.
  3. The consideration by the Executive Team will include whether to endorse or amend the proposed decisions, including for reason of the consultation feedback.
  4. Once considered and decided by the Executive Team, the decisions will be fully articulated to staff across the CSIRO. While initially in summary form, the decisions will be elaborated upon by senior managers in face-to-face meetings with staff and will also be the subject of more extensive written communication on CSIRO’s intranet site. That written communication will provide greater detail about the decisions taken; the themes of feedback received and taken into account in making decisions; and management’s response to the feedback themes.

Only after these steps have been completed will potential redundancy notifications be issued individual staff as per the requirements of the enterprise agreement.

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