The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has stepped up the attack on CSIRO rights and working conditions with changes to Executive’s proposed agreement that remove all rights to staff consultation before decisions are made.
Recently, the Staff Association reported that additional cuts had been made to CSIRO Executive’s proposed enterprise agreement (EA) due to APSC intervention. These cuts included all rights that support on-site childcare provision at CSIRO, staff representation and measures to reduce bureaucracy.
Overall, Staff Association negotiators estimated that these extra cuts would result in 85 per cent of existing rights and conditions – down from 90 per cent – remaining in the proposed EA, if adopted.
More cuts on the table
CSIRO Executive bargaining representatives have now informed the Staff Association of further and more significant intervention by the APSC.
The latest intervention has removed all rights to staff consultation before decisions are made at CSIRO.
As a result, CSIRO staff and the Staff Association will not be able to seek consultation until after a ‘definite decision’ has been made by management and that consultation can only occur on what is interpreted as a ‘major change’.
Consultation is critical
“Enforcement of consultation through our existing EA has saved hundreds of jobs at CSIRO and protected thousands of staff through deficient organisational change in recent years,” Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said.
“Without these consultation rights, access to the Fair Work Commission will be severely curtailed and enforcement of basic EA entitlements and procedures will become more difficult.”
In previous bargaining rounds, Staff Association members have taken prolonged industrial action in large part to retain these specific pre decision consultation rights.
The current consultation proposal for the EA is no better than the legislated minimum under the Fair Work Act and worse than the consultation provisions in the CSIRO Award, which is the ‘better off overall’ safety net for CSIRO workers.
“Staff Association representatives believe this overall consultation proposal by CSIRO Executive is worse than any we have seen in the last 25 years of enterprise bargaining,” Mr Popovski said.
Where does this leave Executive’s EA proposal?
The Staff Association now estimates that only 75 per cent of existing rights and working conditions are retained in CSIRO Executive’s proposal.
“In other words, should the Executive put this proposal to a vote; CSIRO staff will essentially be asked to endorse a 25 per cent cut of existing EA rights and conditions in return for an average pay rise of less than 1 per cent per annum, given the lack of back pay,” Mr Popovski said.
“As recently reported, the Staff Association Council has indicated that on balance, a recommendation would be made to members to vote no to the original proposal CSIRO Executive put out for review over a month ago, should a ballot proceed.
“That proposal had 90 per cent of the existing rights and working conditions retained. This now heavily APSC influenced proposal leaves only 75 per cent of the current EA intact.”
“The Staff Association will clearly not be recommending an EA proposal that reduces significant rights and working conditions as well as real wages for current and future generations of CSIRO staff,” Mr Popovski said.
CSIRO Executive still requires final assessment and approval by the APSC before proceeding to an all staff ballot. Management bargaining representatives indicate this may take two to three weeks.
Any all staff ballot process must include a minimum seven day consideration period before the electronic vote opens. The Staff Association will conduct workplace meetings and provide further information, including the final detailed analysis of the whole EA proposal, before the ballot occurs.
“We continue to welcome your feedback, which has been invaluable to our representatives and negotiators in recent weeks,” Mr Popovski said.