The union representing workers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has warned that Australia’s premier science agency appears braced for another round of significant job cuts, with news that dozens of scientists now are facing redundancy.
Describing the proposed job cuts as a response to market demand, CSIRO Executive has confirmed plans to sack 42 scientists from its Mineral Resources unit and cut an additional 15 jobs from the Sydney laboratory home to the organisation’s breakthrough Wi-Fi research.
“More than 1 in 5 CSIRO jobs have been lost since the 2013 election of the Coalition Government, an unparalleled tragedy in the history of Australian science and research,” CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said.
Mineral Resources rocked by research cuts
Citing “weak mineral markets… reduced revenue and an additional financial driver to reduce costs,” CSIRO Mineral Resources management has revealed plans to cut 42 positions.
Three areas of Mineral Resources research capability have been identified for cuts; specifically Processing, Characterisation and Hard Rock Mining. Scientists working in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland will be affected, with the cuts falling at laboratories in Clayton, Waterford and Pullenvale respectively.
“The total CSIRO staff numbers at Perth’s Waterford laboratory are 44 putting this site – if the proposed cuts are implemented – at increased risk of consolidation or closure,” Mr Popovski said.
“More than 100 jobs in mineral research have already been lost and these further cuts illustrate how Government funding is grossly deficient in allowing CSIRO to cope with short term market fluctuations impacting on revenue from industry.”
Data61 to shed staff
CSIRO’s Data61 is set to sack 15 staff from Sydney’s Marsfield laboratory, home of the organisation’s historic research that partly led to the development of Wi-Fi internet technology.
Data61 has advised the union that the “impacted teams are confined to the Communications systems group within the Cyber Physical Systems program which is comprised of small teams in the electromagnetics, microwave systems, communications and project management capabilities,” management advice states.
“CSIRO needs to go back to being what Australians want: a trusted, Government-funded leader in research for the public good and supporting local jobs in our key industries including agriculture, environment, technology, energy and manufacturing,” Mr Popovski said.
Support CSIRO staff
The CSIRO Staff Association has contacted individual staff members to provide information and assistance.
“Staff Association organisers will be working to support affected members, protect workplace rights and – where possible – minimise and mitigate involuntary redundancies,” Mr Popovski said.
However the union will also continue to publically campaign on behalf of CSIRO workers and lobby federal parliamentarians to step in.
“The Turnbull Government’s support for science is plainly inadequate. Our international competition is smarter and more innovative. Australian politicians must stem the damage and provide funding to repair Australia’s science icon – before it’s too late.”