The announcement that CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall has slightly reduced the number of planned job cuts numbers will still result in the loss of hundreds of scientists and significant damage to Australian public good research, the CSIRO Staff Association warned.
In an all staff email Dr Marshall said his originally stated goal of 350 job cuts would fall to 275; however the revised proposal would still result in the loss of research capacity in CSIRO science units such as Oceans and Atmosphere, Land and Water, Food and Nutrition, Minerals, Agriculture and Manufacturing.
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CSIRO cuts could still exceed 300 positions
Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said that Dr Marshall’s email made no mention of jobs under threat at newly-created CSIRO entity Data61.
“Even if the proposed losses fall to 275 positions that doesn’t seem to include another 70 positions which set to go from Data61 or indeed another 40 research support roles, rendering this mitigation somewhat negligible in a total job numbers.
“This worse-case scenario could see another 400 jobs shed – on top of the 1,300 positions cut since 2014 – a loss in more than 1 in 5 jobs from the CSIRO workforce,” Mr Popovski said.
Newly announced Science Centre won’t stop cuts to climate research
Dr Marshall has also announced the creation of a ‘new Climate Science Centre’ to be based in Hobart and initially staffed by around 40 staff from CSIRO’s Ocean and Atmosphere unit. However Mr Popovski said that both the planned cuts and proposed centre would not fully protect public good climate research.
“The proposed centre is in its infancy and will take several months at least to set up. The reality is that Dr Marshall’s revised plan will still see 75 staff sacked from Oceans and Atmosphere, and the loss of world class talent and research capability.
“CSIRO staff have many unanswered questions and many still face uncertain futures. Consultation has been grudging and desultory at best. Trust in the organisation’s senior leadership has almost totally evaporated.”
Minister must intervene
The Staff Association has renewed calls for Minister Pyne to intervene and declare a moratorium on job cuts at CSIRO until after the federal election, Mr Popovski said.
“Many Australians are concerned about cuts to science and the CSIRO. Ultimate responsibility lies with Minister Pyne. The sad fact is that the largest job losses in CSIRO’s history have occurred under the current Coalition Government’s watch.
“In an immediate sense, the Minister should to intervene and suspend all job cuts until after the federal election. An independent review and subsequent overhaul of CSIRO’s Executive Management structure is obviously necessary and long overdue.
“More broadly, it’s time for all political players to show their cards and reveal practical policies to repair and restore our national science icon. Next week’s federal budget will focus attention on Australia’s public investment priorities.
“The Coalition, Labor, Australian Greens, Independents and minor parties must now articulate their plans to help secure the future for the CSIRO and Australian research that can support both local industries and the public good,” Mr Popovski said.