The 82nd Consultative Council meeting between CSIRO Executive and Staff Association representatives took place on Thursday 23 July. The Staff Association requested that two major items be addressed at the meeting: COVID-19 and New Ways of Working as well as 2020-21 Finances, Jobs and Careers.
Keeping staff safe is paramount
The Staff Association emphasised that the number one responsibility for CSIRO during the COVID-19 pandemic was to keep staff safe and support wellbeing at work. We have been supporting members in a variety in a ways, including through representation by our COVID-19 delegates working group and weekly meetings with CSIRO management on the Situation Management Team (SMT) and Business Transition Program (BTP).
As part of COVID-19 preparedness, Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski emphasised the need for clear, concise information that proactively prepares for COVID-19 scenarios in CSIRO workplaces. CSIRO Director of Corporate Affairs Tanya Bowes undertook to review the suite of COVID-19 information on myCSIRO to help facilitate a strong and clear scenarios-based approach.
Consultation to occur on new ways of working
Staff Association Treasurer Scott Wilkinson raised the need for extensive consultation with staff on New Ways of Working (NWoW). CSIRO Director of People Katherine Paroz indicated that NWoW was at an early stage and there would be consultation with staff in coming months.
The Staff Association will submit a specific NWoW consultation proposal to CSIRO shortly and welcomes member suggestions on consultation mechanisms via email [email protected]
Science and technology excellence
Chief Executive Larry Marshall highlighted CSIRO’s commitment to maintaining excellence in scientific and technological impact and CSIRO’s central role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Australian bushfires this year. Staff Association President Sonia Grocke raised the importance of capitalising in tangible ways on the current preeminence of CSIRO to Government and the Australian community.
Finances and jobs
Chief Finance Officer Tom Munyard reported on CSIRO’s finances, confirming the projected $50-100M external earnings reduction in 2020-21, but highlighting that this would be offset through cash reserves. The organisation had a good year in 2019-20, achieving a modest $15M operational surplus. The Staff Association called for the absolute minimisation of involuntary redundancies in 2020-21, unless there are genuine linkages to necessary capability changes.
ASL cap and outsourcing
Staff Association Deputy President Mark Green and Acting Lead Organiser Louise Jarman raised examples of the negative impacts of outsourcing on staff as well as the quality of the work performed at CSIRO.
The Staff Association’s position is that all work at CSIRO should be done by staff directly employed through the Enterprise Agreement. Further, now that the organisation’s staffing level is more than one hundred under the 2020-21 ASL cap, many workers that are currently engaged through labour hire or contracting – about 425 people or 8% of the total workforce – should be reinstated as CSIRO employees.
Staff Association Deputy President Melissa Skidmore highlighted the problems with career development and succession planning at CSIRO, including for early- and mid-career researchers. The Staff Association continued to emphasis the need to plan for diversity in all its forms, including gender, culture and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
CSIRO Chief Scientist Cathy Foley committed to working with the Staff Association to investigate greater career opportunities for CSIRO staff, which would benefit both the organisation as well as develop capability and provide job security.
Work to do
The discussions at the meeting were constructive, but there’s a lot more work to do for Staff Association representatives to achieve tangible outcomes from CSIRO’s Executives on better staff consultation, job retention, reduced outsourcing and career opportunities. These objectives are fundamental to Staff Association members and the campaigns we will be focusing on in coming months.
If members are seeking more information on the CSIRO Consultative Council meeting, contact any members of the Staff Association Executive.