Quick action from the local delegate, with support from the Staff Association organiser, recently resulted in securing the future employment of six staff in the Agriculture and Food business unit located at CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre in Werribee.
In early March, business unit leadership notified six Food program staff at Werribee that they were potentially impacted by a proposed reduction of staff. Workplace delegate Rod Smith was quick to act and assist his impacted colleagues as their representative and enlisted the support of Staff Association organiser Ashley Sutherland.
By the end of the month, the proposed job cuts were off the table and the future employment of the potentially impacted staff secured, for now at least.
So how did Rod and Ashley save the day?
Following the Agriculture and Food (Ag Food) annual capabilities review, business unit leadership decided to cut the number of Food program staff in the Food Chemistry and Physical Chemistry capabilities by two positions, with six staff potentially impacted by the reduction.
Staff Association members and workplace delegates moved swiftly during the consultation period to raise numerous concerns and queries about the proposed redundancies.
“We queried CSIRO for definitive details about the annual capability review, the rationale behind proposed redundancies, definitive details on actions undertaken to mitigate redundancies, and more,” Rod said.
Initially CSIRO assessed staff as unsuitable for recently advertised roles at their CSOF level in the business unit.
“Staff Association members challenged this, requesting they be considered for all upcoming positions including those to replace positions from North Ryde where staff have chosen not to relocate to Werribee,” Rod said.
Following two extensions of the consultation period, CSIRO wrote to the Staff Association to inform the union that Ag Food leadership had decided to abandon the proposed redundancies, for the time being.
‘Following further consideration of the feedback from staff during the consultation period and discussions held with the leadership team and the Team Leaders, (we) have decided not to proceed with this process,’ the correspondence states.
Instead – based on suggestions from Staff Association members that current skills could be developed and adapted through training – CSIRO are proposing to provide all staff in the Food program six months of training and support to develop the required new capabilities and skills, in line with the CSOF4 Research Projects role.
Ashley says Ag Food leadership still have questions to answer.
“We’re not satisfied with the explanations provided by CSIRO as to why these impacted staff were dragged through this process that has been a cause of great distress due what are felt to be to several assessment and process errors.”
“The Staff Association has requested a response from CSIRO about what management processes and management training will be put in place to ensure that staff are not put through such a stressful and dubious process in future,” Ashley said.
Staff Association members and delegates will continue to seek transparency from Ag Food leaders and ensure affected staff are meaningfully consulted about the new training and support proposal.
“We should acknowledge this as a win,” Rod says. “This is the first time that CSIRO have decided not to go ahead with a redundancy process at Werribee.”
“For me it’s an example of the strength of our Staff Association community at Werribee, and what we can achieve when we support each other in the workplace,” Ashley said.
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