Bargaining Position

CSIRO Staff Association members voted to endorse the union’s bargaining position by an overwhelming majority. Nearly 800 members participated in the online ballot, with over 91 per cent of electors voting to approve the position.

The bargaining position was based on the responses of nearly one thousand Staff Association members who took part in an online bargaining survey.

Our bargaining position, explained 

This expanded version of the bargaining position includes explanatory notes (italicised text) for each component of the claim.

A BETTER AGREEMENT

1. No reduction in current terms and conditions of employment.

Conditions in the Enterprise Agreement are to be built upon, not reduced.

2. All entitlements in terms and conditions and in CSIRO policy to be incorporated into the Enterprise Agreement.

Examples of applicable entitlements include classification and salary on appointment and long service leave.

3. Nominal Expiry Date of 30 June 2017.

A three year agreement. However, the date may vary depending on the quality of a proposed outcome to members on pay and conditions.

4. The Staff Association reserves the right to add further claims based on member consultation.

Member feedback on specific matters not covered in existing claims can be brought forward to negotiation meetings. This may include responses to Government guidance on bargaining and specific CSIRO management proposals.

PAY AND REMUNERATION

5. Salary increases of 3.5% per annum. Should Enterprise Agreement 2014 not be finalised until after 17 August 2014, back pay will be paid.

3.5% per annum as a pay outcome (backdated if delays occur) would be acceptable to a majority of members, subject to a better overall Agreement.

6. A minimum 15.4% employer superannuation contribution for all staff (non-CSS and non-PSSdb).

Staff who choose to join a superannuation fund other than PSSap currently receive 9% (not 15.4%) from CSIRO. This is inequitable and inconsistent with superannuation choice.

7. All salary-related allowances to be adjusted with salary increases. All other allowances to increase as appropriate (e.g. applicable ATO rates).

Allowances to be treated in the same way as they are currently in the Agreement.

8. Increasing the minor expense payment to $20 per day.

Currently $15. It has not been increased for decades. Only applicable in the absence of an advance payment or when ‘out of pocket’ expenses are not claimed by receipt or justification.

9. Improving access and options for salary packaging.

The options have been progressively limited and accessibility is poor. Best practice examples of other Government employers will be considered.

10. Inclusion of payment of health care and education costs upon the recruitment of staff who are non-Australian citizens or permanent residents. Inclusion of support for staff employed on 457 Visas, including assistance on permanent residency.

Payments are currently made in some cases, but CSIRO has complete discretion. Very little equity or transparency. Many staff on 457 Visas receive inadequate support, particularly in relation to liaison with other Government organisations.

11. Updating first aid allowance provisions to reflect changes made to first aid training standards.

To reflect current practices in training and accreditation.

PRODUCTIVITY AND CLASSIFICATION

12. Reduction in the number of Executive managers and abolition of performance bonuses. Identified savings to be returned to the overall staff salaries pool.

Executive-related costs to be reduced, especially given the context of job losses and financial constraints at CSIRO, and returned to science and the employment of staff.

13. Reduction in bureaucratic processes, with identified savings to be returned to the overall staff salaries pool.

Efficiencies to be implemented, including in the context of CSIRO’s Organising Arrangements Review and related processes, and returned to science and the employment of staff.

14. Abolition of the CSOF Level 3 Enhanced barrier to advancement.

The driving purpose of a barrier to limit advancement of some administrative functional roles has become redundant in CSIRO and serves no justifiable purpose.

15. Abolition of five yearly performance reviews for staff at CSOF Level 7 and above.

The driving purpose of a special review to ensure performance at higher levels has become bureaucratic and superfluous. Alternatively, the APA process should be used appropriately.

16. Reduction in the number of advancement steps at CSOF Level 2 and CSOF Level 3 to five.

CSOF Levels 4 and above each have between three and five steps from entry to maximum classification point. CSOF Levels 2 and 3 each have nine steps. It does not take nine years for staff within CSOF Levels 2 or 3 to develop maximum competency in their role. Five steps would achieve better consistency with higher levels and reflect competency improvement rates.

JOB SECURITY

17. Improving redundancy and redeployment processes including: strengthening redeployment provisions and consultation timeframes; abolition of over-67yo exclusion to redundancy entitlements; improved access to estimates of redundancy entitlements.

Substantial improvements were made in the last Agreement. Further improvements are based on learning from the 2013 redundancy process. No discrimination to entitlements based on age.

18. As a minimum, CSIRO to retain all current regional sites and staffing. Remote localities provisions to recognise all research stations where work by CSIRO officers is performed.

The Agreement to give genuine effect to the commitment to regional sites in the CSIRO Strategic Plan. Allowances to reflect any work that is required to be performed at remote locations.

19. Inclusion of a commitment to ensure the job security of CSIRO officers can not be undermined by the use of contractors and labour hire.

Current consultation/justification provisions are applicable when decisions to outsource are initially made. However, there is a need to strengthen the provisions to deal with ongoing outsourcing arrangements at CSIRO involving contractors and labour hire.

LEAVE AND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

20. Updating maternity/parental leave provisions to reflect changes to Federal legislation. Include full parental leave rights for same sex couples.

The Agreement to reflect new legislated entitlements to maternity/parental leave. No discrimination to entitlements based on same sex relationship.

21. Introduction of provision for domestic violence leave.

Leave to be provided in exceptional circumstances involving domestic violence. Based on leave provisions in other Government agency agreements.

22. All public and locally observed holidays for all sites to be listed in the Enterprise Agreement.

Currently all holidays are not listed in the Agreement, thereby being subject to change through State/Territory law or local government. Listing individual holidays strengthens the retention of all holidays for the life of the Agreement.

PARTICIPATION AND RIGHTS

23. Strengthening staff consultation to ensure it occurs before significant decisions are made.

Improvements were made in the last Agreement. A further improvement is needed to ensure consultation on initiatives or proposals occurs before decisions are made.

24. Strengthening rights for union delegates and organisers to represent members in APA, promotion and performance processes.

Improvements were made in the last Agreement. A further improvement is needed to allow members to be represented by union organisers in meetings such as performance processes (currently not permitted).

25. Inclusion of a misconduct procedure and an improved grievance procedure, including to reflect recommendations of the Pearce Investigation report.

The misconduct procedure is currently in CSIRO policy, not the Agreement. Need to simplify access to, and application of, grievance, misconduct and related procedures in the Agreement. Need to ensure application is consistent with recommendations of the Pearce Investigation report.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

26. All staff to have the right to reasonable workloads. Inclusion of a provision for staff to have unreasonable workloads reviewed at anytime.

Workloads and allocations are not currently addressed in the Agreement. A new clause would enable unreasonable workloads to be reviewed. Best practice examples of other Government employers will be considered.

27. Recognising the provision for capability days in the Enterprise Agreement.

Capability days are not currently addressed in the Agreement and are therefore not enforceable by the Staff Association on behalf of members.

28. Improving access to child care facilities including expanding current centres and developing new centres and partnership/provider arrangements.

Improvements have been made during the life of the current Agreement. Need to strengthen clause to incorporate timeframes for consultation, demographic/demand analyses and feasibility assessments.

Have your say

What do you think of the bargaining position? Are there any clauses that require further explanation? Post a comment below or email csstaff@cpsu.org.au 

13 thoughts on “Bargaining Position

  1. In relation to point 15, I would prefer to see clause 41 remain in the EBA, as I and others here have been subject to 3 yearly reviews. So I’d rather put up with 5 yearly reviews than on a more regular basis. Alternatively, the EBA needs to stipulate that the APA process must be the only mechanism for reviews.

    • Thanks for your comment. The Staff Association is seeking to negotiate a three year agreement and aims to secure a modest pay increase for CSIRO workers over this period.

      While the RBA recently lowered their inflation forecast, during 2013 – when Staff Association members voted to endorse the bargaining position – the Central Bank was predicting an annualised inflation rate of up to 3.25 per cent.

      We’re comfortable that our claim for a 3.5 % pa increase is modest and stands a reasonable chance of keeping pace with inflation over the next three years.

      • The other point to note here is that over the last 2-3 bargains, the cost of living has risen enormously – my disposable income now is far less than it was 10 years ago in spite of having progressed up the salary scale. The costs of both utilities and food have gone up by much more than 3.5% – in case of power, its more like 100% !

  2. A couple of comments:

    I strongly agree with the proposed position regarding items 9 and 15. In the case of 15, it is outrageous that someone who has been promoted to CSOF7 or 8, which means that they have demonstrated competencies at that level over a sustained period, should have it questioned whether they have these competencies 5 years later. In a competency based system like ours, this review is just not on. Once you are competent, you are competent !

    Re. item 8, the daily allowance. To me, this is an anachronism and the union would be wise to offer up its abolition as a genuine productivity improvement so as to get some of its other claims accepted. If you have an expense, you should claim for that actual expense; if you don’t have an expense, you should not be claiming a daily allowance. Therefore, in my opinion, there is no justification for retaining it. I have not claimed this allowance for years and I think we should get rid of it. BUT of course, if people do have genuine expenses, then they should be reimbursed.

    • For short trips, perhaps the daily allowance is unecessary, but when away for a longer period, it saves a lot of paperwork. I was away for 6 weeks recently, and if I’d had to claim every cup of tea, bus fare, phone call (I don’t have a csiro phone) and so on individually, it would have taken forever!

  3. It’s not easy to obtain a merit promotion to CSOF 7 and 8 in CSIRO. Any underachievers should be identified by appropriate use of the existing APA process.Implementing a five-yearly review of all CSOF7 and 8 scientists imposes a huge cost to the organisation in terms of the time it takes the victim to put the case together and the time spent by committees of highly paid senior managers to analyse the cases and perform the reviews. Not to mention the extra work required when the victim is asked to provide further information to support the case, and the sense of demotivation that results, which usually takes the form of “These people just haven’t got a clue what I actually do!”. This is one occasion where a cost-benefit analysis would be of value – this bureaucratic review process needs to be scrapped, and the funds saved redirected to doing science.

  4. At a recent Bargaining Briefing we were informed that under the new policy regarding negotiations, there can never be back pay. The suggestion above that it will be requested is intriguing.

    I also disagree with the comment that staff at higher CSOF Levels (7, 8 etc) should not have to undergo review. In the absence of review, the top scientists can potentially go ‘stale’. This can happen easily. If employees at that level are producing the necessary output then you should have no concern about being reviewed. If you are not performing at that level, then one should wonder why the individual was promoted in the first instance.

    • So if you are going to have a competency review after 5 years, what is the justification for confining it to CSOF7 and 8 ? Why not CSOF 3 and 4 too ?

      • Because these should be considered superior levels in my opinion. As such, they require on-going superior performance (hence, a 5 yearly review). Lower levels like CSOF3 & 4 are support levels and can be successfully managed locally by their supervisors and through the APA process. The problem with CSOF 7 / 8 is that those individuals often have bigger egos than their science output & achievements warrant. A review would have many of them running scared…

      • There is far too much over-reviewing (naval gazing) in CSIRO processes. This costs the organisation heaps of money that could be better used funding science. If managers are not considered competent to annually appraise their staff performance, then why are they being paid?

  5. A couple of comments on item 10:
    1. As 457 visa holder I strongly support this point. Another area where 457 visa holders are disadvantaged is that there is no support for childcare. I know at least one case where a strong international candidate did not join CSIRO because he couldn’t afford childcare. I am not suggesting a blanket support for all but a 457 visa holder should get same support as a permanent resident or citizen to have the same quality of life.

    2. Consistency in assistance with permanent residency is also a good point. There are candidates who were aware of this and bargained with CSIRO at the time of their appointment while many didn’t know they could bargain so were not supported. Consistency and transparency missing altogether.

  6. I would like to comment and disagree with points 14 and 16.
    14. Abolition of the CSOF Level 3 Enhanced barrier to advancement
    16. Reduction in the number of advancement steps at CSOF Level 2 and CSOF Level 3 to five.

    I strongly argued as part of the late 1990’s Enterprise Bargaining Reference Group for the splitting of CSOF3 into two new bands CSOF3 (1-5) and CSOF4 (6-9) and hence all other CSOF levels incremented by 1. This was to enhance the career path (not maximise the remuneration) of most support officers/technicians who progress through CSOF3 and usually reach a career ceiling at CSOF4M. Scientists have the career path of post-doc (4), RS (5), SRS (6) PRS (7), and potentially SPRS (8) and CRS (9). With CSIRO’s lack of management imagination this became the CSOF3(5) Enhancement barrier and did nothing to enhance the career paths of support staff.
    Reducing the number of increments just increases the dissatisfaction/expectation: someone may deserve a promotion to CSOF3/1 but not CSOF3/9 in a short period (4 years) and it raises the continual expectation that having reached CSOF-Max, that they deserve a promotion.

    I am a long time union member, a delegate and CSOF4M senior research technician.

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