Staff Association bargaining representatives have used the second negotiation meeting for a new enterprise agreement to outline an expansive agenda to improve pay, conditions, consultation and workplace rights at CSIRO.
A presentation of the Staff Association’s bargaining claim formed the main talking point for the meeting, also attended by representatives from CSIRO Executive and independent bargaining agents.
“Our comprehensive bargaining position – developed and endorsed by union members from CSIRO workplaces across the country – sets out a positive agenda to boost pay, improve conditions, fix consultation and protect rights,” said Staff Association Secretary Susan Tonks.
The Staff Association’s bargaining claim calls for a significant increase to CSIRO pay, recognising high cost-of-living and the impact of nearly ten years of wage suppression under the previous federal government.
The union’s claim of a 20 per cent increase over three years (9% in year one, 6% in year two and 5% in year three) represents a starting point for negotiations and mirrors the amount targeted by CPSU negotiators in service-wide bargaining in the Australian Public Service (APS).
When it comes to superannuation, the Staff Association is campaigning for equity; demanding that all CSIRO employees receive a guaranteed minimum employer superannuation contribution of 15.4%, regardless of choice of fund.
The claim aims for the new EA to make ongoing employment as the preferred basis of engagement at CSIRO and calls for Executive to work with the CSIRO Staff Association to demonstrably reduce insecure forms of employment in the agency.
Contracting out and use of labour hire should be extremely rare and temporary, and a proposal to outsource or renew outsourcing will be subject to consultation with employees and their representatives.
Casual and non-ongoing employment should only be available in agreed circumstances and not be used as a substitute for permanent, ongoing jobs. The claim also calls for the establishment of clear pathways to permanent work for casual and non-ongoing employees at CSIRO.
The claim proposes a significant overhaul of parental leave, including an entitlement for all employees to access paid parental leave, adoption leave and permanent caregiver leave of 26 weeks each, with a total of 52 weeks which can be taken flexibly over three years. Employees would also be paid supporting partner leave of 8 weeks, taken concurrently with the other partner’s period of paid parental leave, at any stage during the other partner’s period of 26 weeks.
Building on and expanding from National Employment Standards, paid leave for CSIRO employees affected by family, domestic violence or sexual violence should be set at a minimum of 20 days per year, with the ability to access flexible work arrangements as needed, appropriate support networks all while subject to stringent privacy protections.
Rights protecting working from home and flexible work arrangements would be strengthened. All employees will be able to make requests for flexible work, which may include changes in hours of work (including part time work), patterns of work, and the location of work. Working from home requests should be approved, unless granting the request would cause unjustifiable hardship to the employer and caps on the number of days an employee can work from home should be removed.
The introduction of genuine and meaningful consultation at CSIRO is a major focus of the Staff Association’s claim. CSIRO should consult employees and their union on workplace matters prior to decisions being made, providing employees and the union with a genuine opportunity to influence decisions.
Consultation must occur on all matters that affect employees, including but not limited to decisions regarding introducing or extending casual or non-ongoing employment, contracting, or labour hire arrangements.
The Staff Association believes that CSIRO employees have the right to be represented by their union in all employment-related matters. CSIRO Executive must recognise and support the role of delegates and other elected union representatives, deal with them in good faith, and provide appropriate paid time and facilities to enable them to perform their roles, including access to email, the intranet and other resources.
As per previous advice, CSIRO Executive bargaining representatives stated they are still waiting on Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) approval of the organisation’s remuneration position.
In contrast to the comprehensive position outlined by the Staff Association, the agenda provided by Executive representatives was separated into financial and non-financial sections, including a limited list of their own bargaining priorities.
Executive are proposing the discussion of non-financial topics for negotiations while waiting for APSC approval for financial matters such as pay, allowances and superannuation.
CSIRO Executive have agreed to a Staff Association proposal for intensive negotiations throughout August and into late September, with formal talks scheduled to take place weekly or twice weekly.
The next negotiation meeting is set for Tuesday 8 August. Topics expected to be discussed include job security, consultation, public holiday substitution, reasonable workloads and job demands, work classification standards, Health and Safety Representatives acknowledgement and recognition.
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