Campaign to scrap staffing cap at CSIRO continues

As we begin a new year, the Staff Association will turn up the pressure again on the Federal Government, CSIRO Board and CSIRO Executive to scrap the application of the Average Staffing Level (ASL) cap.

New figures from CSIRO Executive demonstrate the devastating effect of the ASL cap on staff and the organisation; with 387 jobs lost in CSIRO in the last six months (5,528 employed staff at 31 December 2019 compared to 5,915 staff at 30 June 2019).

Most of the job losses have been in casual and specified term contract positions. CSIRO’s ASL figure at 31 December 2019 was 5,249, just short of the target figure for 2019-20 of 5,193.

Modest progress

The Staff Association continues to have some successes in ameliorating the impact of the cap, particularly in convincing parts of the organisation to engage previously employed casual or term contract staff on similar pay and conditions when these workers have been reengaged as contractors or labour hire workers.

Although this will cost the organisation more – due to the sizable fees taken by the labour hire company – it has fundamentally protected the livelihoods of many workers and the integrity of the value of work performed at CSIRO.

Dispute update

The Staff Association dispute at the Fair Work Commission has now ended. The dispute was based on upholding the Enterprise Agreement provision that the standard form of employment in CSIRO is indefinite, not casual or term contract.

The unfair limitations of Australian employment law, in not restricting an employer in the use of outsourced workers, meant the Staff Association had little options to extend the dispute at the Fair Work Commission, based on the increased proportion of indefinite staff at CSIRO relative to total employed staff, at the end of last year.

Multiple fronts

The campaign to scrap the ASL cap and mitigate its impacts at CSIRO continues to operate on multiple fronts. The Staff Association has written to all CSIRO Board members this year, expressing disappointment that CSIRO Executive did not support the Staff Association’s motion at the Consultative Council meeting in December to seek an ASL cap exemption from the Government.

Staff Association representatives will be meeting with additional politicians as Federal Parliament resumes in Canberra in February to make the case for CSIRO and staff.

Even if CSIRO Executive continues to cut positions to reach the 2019-20 ASL target, the long-term ASL cap impacts on capabilities, workloads and collaboration will damage CSIRO’s ability to deliver on its strategy and work for the nation.

Is the ASL cap costing innovation opportunities?

Staff Association members are advocating for the removal of the ASL cap at CSIRO because of the many negative effects it is having on working conditions, jobs and research. One consequence is lost contracts, projects and innovation opportunities that are not being undertaken because of staffing cap restrictions and excessive workloads.

Confidential quick survey launched

As a result, the Staff Association needs your examples of lost contracts, projects and innovation that is not being undertaken. We have launched a new, quick, confidential survey that allows members to provide us this information. All information will be deidentified and used in the Staff Association campaign to scrap the application of the ASL cap at CSIRO.

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