CSIRO Executive has stated that an all staff vote on a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) will be held from Friday 16 June. Management’s first proposal was soundly rejected by staff in November 2016 by a vote of more than two-to-one.
While this second EA offer represents significant improvement on the initial offer, the Staff Association estimates that up to 20 per cent of legal safeguards for workplace conditions stand to be lost because of the application of the Government’s bargaining policy; in return for a pay increase that translates to less than one per cent per annum over the bargaining round.
CSIRO Executive’s first proposed agreement – released in late 2016 – was defeated by a margin of more than seventy per cent of staff.
Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said that CSIRO staff still deserve much better.
“If adopted, this new agreement would weaken both staff consultation and workplace representation and result in greater job insecurity at CSIRO.”
“It’s important to remember that these workplace cuts are being proposed in the context of low staff morale and the loss of more than 20 per cent of CSIRO jobs in the last three years,” Mr Popovski said.
CSIRO employees have an important choice to make and the ballot outcome either way will be far-reaching.
“Some staff will reject this proposal and others will support it, for a wide range of reasons.” Mr Popovski said
“It is certain that the outcome will affect both the current workforce and coming generations of staff; which will in turn have ramifications for the way CSIRO conducts research into the future.”
Measures to protect the employment security of CSIRO scientists, technicians and support staff are under threat, Mr Popovski warned.
“The removal of conditions that legally protect the job security of CSIRO staff will have negative results including more short term employment, an increased reliance on casual labour and more outsourced work with associated inefficiencies.”
“CSIRO staff make a collective contribution to Australia’s research effort at home and abroad. It’s hard to imagine how a weakening of fundamental employment conditions for CSIRO staff is in anyone’s interest,” Mr Popovski said.
Consultation and Representation
Crucially, the right of staff to be consulted – before CSIRO management makes a decision – is set to be stripped from the legally enforceable agreement.
“Enforcement of consultation through our existing agreement has saved hundreds of jobs at CSIRO and protected thousands of staff by averting deficient organisational change in recent years. Without these consultation rights, oversight by the Fair Work Commission will be severely curtailed and upholding basic entitlements and procedures will become more difficult,” Mr Popovski said.
“Staff Association representatives believe this overall consultation proposal by CSIRO Executive is worse than any we have seen in the last 25 years of enterprise bargaining,” Mr Popovski said.
The EA proposal also removes important rights that allow staff to access representation by Staff Association delegates in the workplace.
Work Classification Standards
Criteria relating to Work Classification Standards could be changed by Executive to disadvantage CSIRO staff, without requiring the agreement of staff and the Staff Association.
“Stacked up with increased job insecurity, reduced rights to consultation and representation; the potential to shift the goal posts on classifications is concerning,” Mr Popovski said.
Executive’s pay offer is a total of 6.5 per cent over the next 39 months, which is in line with the average annual pay being offered across the public sector, Mr Popovski said.
“However when calculated since the last increase, the pay rise will be less than 1 per cent per annum; leaving CSIRO salaries between 10 to 20 per cent lower than university rates of pay.”
“It’s very difficult to believe this is a credible strategy of attracting the best and brightest to CSIRO.” Mr Popovski said.
Organisers and delegates are in the process of arranging workplace meetings in the lead up to the ballot on 16 June. Information and resources are available on our Enterprise Bargaining campaign page, which will be updated regularly.
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Make a difference. Work with your colleagues in the workplace to build a better CSIRO, starting today. Email [email protected] for more information or speak to your local organiser or delegate about membership.