CSIRO is proceeding with significant job cuts across the Energy business unit, with forty staff across Australia now identified as potentially redundant. The planned job losses – which first emerged in February following a budget shortfall and strategy overhaul – were suspended in March due to the impact of coronavirus.
Senior management at the business unit have confirmed that four Energy sites will be affected including Kensington (Western Australia), Clayton (Victoria), Newcastle and North Ryde (New South Wales).
“These latest cuts to CSIRO jobs are unwise and damaging,” CSIRO Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovksi said.
“The recent King Review indicates that Australia’s energy policy remains far from settled and diminishing CSIRO’s specialist capabilities in this area harms government decision-making and future innovation.”
Job cuts restarted
The swift resumption of the job cuts process – which was put on pause due to COVID-19 in mid-March – took staff by surprise; with some employees only provided 24 hours’ notice of the requirement to attend a meeting where management would inform their position was likely to become potentially redundant.
However, advocacy and representation from the Staff Association on behalf of affected union members has resulted in management concessions to extend notification and consultation timeframes.
“The Staff Association is committed to providing any affected members personal advice and support and the union will work hard to minimise involuntary job losses and retain staff through redeployment and voluntary redundancy substitution,” Mr Popovski said.
The forty positions identified as potentially redundant does represent a decrease in the numbers originally forecast by Energy leaders earlier in March.
In correspondence to the Staff Association, Business unit management provided further detail on the forty job cuts:
While Energy management have not yet revealed updated information on the capabilities impact; the strategy document which informs the restructure flagged changes to upstream oil and gas and the Low Emissions Technologies program, including post combustion CO2 capture.
Staff Association representatives have also approached Energy management in response to concerns that the cuts may have a disproportionate impact on women and those staff from a cultural and linguistically diverse background; potentially worsening the already diversity-challenged research and energy sectors.
Call to action
Mr Popovski called on newly reappointed CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall to speak out in support of CSIRO jobs.
“Job losses of any sort in CSIRO are bad news. Dr Marshall needs to do more to protect CSIRO jobs and start outline the case for increased public funding.”
“CSIRO is on track to lose more than five hundred jobs by 1 July and that does not include these latest cuts in Energy. There are concerning reports that more jobs could be under threat. Dr Marshall himself has warned of the opening of a potential $100 million black hole in revenue.”
“There are growing concerns that the October federal budget may feature spending cuts and Dr Marshall and the Board must ensure that the case for CSIRO public funding is heard loud and clear over coming months,” Mr Popovski said.