The 83rd meeting of CSIRO Consultative Council between Staff Association representatives and CSIRO Executives was held on Friday 4 December. The three major items raised by the Staff Association on behalf of members were:
These topics will set the scene for new initiatives and changes that will impact the work of CSIRO staff, starting in February 2021.
At the start of the meeting, Secretary Sam Popovski acknowledged that the Staff Association had engaged early and worked collaboratively to keep staff safe and healthy during the Covid pandemic, including leave provisions, working from home and safety in the workplace. Mr Popovski also emphasised the importance of having a new Enterprise Agreement, which has secured CSIRO working conditions until 2023.
Chief Executive Larry Marshall outlined the positives that could be taken from 2020, including budget support from the Federal Government, CSIRO being placed at the centre of new strategies on bushfires and manufacturing as well as the appointment of Cathy Foley as Australia’s new Chief Scientist.
The APaIR process is being conducted over December/January and will determine the allocation of funding to CSIRO business units and Enterprise Support Services (ESS) areas. Decisions will be announced to staff from February next year.
The Staff Association raised issues on the consistency of Business Unit (BU) engagement with staff on BU strategic plans, which will form a basis of decisions on new growth areas as well as exiting work and capabilities not aligned to strategy.
CSIRO Executives indicated that to date, external revenue has not fallen as much as predicted this financial year. The meeting also discussed improving engagement with State Governments as important funding and research partners in CSIRO’s future.
The outcomes of the inaugural round of Interchange were discussed. Overall, there were 389 placements into Interchange opportunities. Insights from this round will inform the implementation of the second round of Interchange, commencing in February next year.
The Staff Association raised the importance of improved workplace planning to identify and utilise capabilities across CSIRO, not just within individual BUs. This would also enable greater transparency and accountability of BU decisions in relation to restructures and potential redundancies.
To date, CSIRO had developed strategic workforce plans in some BUs but not all. The Staff Association urged CSIRO to continue this work and then bring the BU plans together so there is a coherent, whole of CSIRO workforce plan developed for staff consultation in 2021.
CSIRO Executives advised that the organisation is expected to be below its allocated ASL from government for the foreseeable future. CSIRO’s ASL figure for 2020-21 is 210 more than the actual ASL number at the end of 2019-20.
This is potentially great news, as it will enable more staff to be hired and retained in employment through the Enterprise Agreement (EA) and also decrease CSIRO’s use of labour hire and contractor companies.
The Staff Association’s position continues to be that the ASL should not apply to CSIRO and that all work should be done by dedicated employees under the EA. CSIRO Executives accepted that most of the work done by CSIRO to deliver science and impact needs to be performed in this way and that only less specialised capability is considered for outsourcing.
As we head into 2021, the Staff Association is committed to being proactive on all issues in CSIRO covering secure employment, jobs, career opportunities and progression for our members.
Consultative Council exemplified the key issues that will be a focus of our representation and advocacy into the new year.