The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the CSIRO Staff Association have called on their members to join March for Science events happening around Australia on Saturday 22 April 2017.
The Australian March for Science events have been organised to coincide with others around the world, advocating for the vital role science plays in our health, safety, freedom, environment, economies and governments, in the face of growing threats.
The unions are calling for adequate and stable science and innovation funding.
“The critical area of science and research funding should not be a political football,” said NTEU National President Jeannie Rea.
“Stable funding would enable scientists to get on with their important work, helping us understand and solve the wicked problems of our time.”
Rea said there is an epidemic of insecure employment among research staff in Australian universities.
“The Turnbull government and many university employers purport to appreciate the need for Australia to genuinely embrace innovation and science to improve the ways we live and work,” said Rea.
“The damning truth, however, is that four out of five research-only staff in our universities are employed on fixed term contracts, and 50 to 70 per cent of teaching is done by academics employed casually.
“Research scientists’ valuable time should not be spent dealing with the serious financial and personal implications of not knowing if they will have a job in a few months or weeks.
“The proliferation of precarious employment has broader consequences. It limits universities’ capacities to attract the very best scientists, and drives promising young researchers into alternative careers. In the end we all lose out.”
CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said: “CSIRO is trusted by the public to solve some of our nation’s biggest problems, from climate change to energy. In reality, CSIRO simply won’t be able to do this with current trends of declining funding and insecure careers.”
“As the unions representing university and CSIRO staff, we are pleased to support March for Science and its championing of education to encourage broad public knowledge and discussion of scientific work, as well as open communication, informed policy and stable investment,” said Popovski.
“Secure jobs for scientists is a crucial step in this.
“We encourage NTEU and CSIRO Staff Association members, their families and friends to get involved in the March for Science in their city, and join the call for secure jobs for scientists.”