Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski reflects on six months of keeping CSIRO staff safe from Covid-19.
IN MY FIRST CAREER as a CSIRO researcher, I was encouraged to always strive for better. This meant optimising experimental design, getting great advice from colleagues, and regularly engaging with collaborators. This quest for improvement and its lessons were as enjoyable as achieving research outcomes.
I brought this same mindset to my role with the CSIRO Staff Association. Always looking for better ways to represent staff. Always learning how to maximise outcomes for members.
This year it’s been critical for the Staff Association to have high expectations to keep members safe from Covid-19. We’ve worked constructively with CSIRO management to get to this point. And we have more work to do in coming months in support the safety and jobs of our members.
Achievements so far
With the onset of Covid-19 lockdowns in Australia, our first priority was to secure leave options for staff. We developed proposals for CSIRO management and agreed on access to paid leave for specific purposes to reduce the risk of workplace attendance and Covid-19 transmission.
We advocated for resources for working from home. CSIRO has supported staff and recently released a comprehensive package of resources that enables staff to work from home.
The safety and wellbeing of our members that have worked on site has been equally important. We suggested proactive scenarios-based approaches to facilitate Covid-19 safety. Management then incorporated our suggestions into CSIRO’s Covid-19 protocols.
And our Covid-19 working group of delegates have crucially linked members with our advocacy to CSIRO’s Situation Management Team (SMT) and Business Transition Program (BTP). No less than fortnightly meetings between Staff Association representatives and the SMT and BTP have been occurring for six months.
Looking forward, we’ve also received commitments from CSIRO Executive to undertake thorough consultation with staff on future initiatives on New Ways of Working.
More to do
Informed by my personal mindset and our collective expectations as a Staff Association, we’ll keep setting the bar higher for CSIRO management.
We’ve recently advocated for site-specific Covid-19 Safe plans that consolidate information on Covid-19 safety for each and every site in CSIRO. We want the plans to be site-specific and to contain information that is readily accessible and digestible.
We’re using your responses from our Covid-19 member survey to raise priority issues like workloads, mental health and managing work-life balance and leave.
And critically, we’ll keep fighting for each and every CSIRO job. Having a job and making a difference to future society through science is at the core of the Staff Association’s mission.
In summary, as your Secretary and through our amazing team of Councillors, delegates and organisers, we’re in for the long haul of keeping our members safe from Covid-19 and secure in their working lives.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our Association, and most importantly for the principles that underpin our work, none more important right now than striving for better.
Sam Popovski is Secretary of the CSIRO Staff Association.