Staff Association representatives have put forward a comprehensive proposal to improve employee engagement at CSIRO, using enterprise agreement negotiations to table a detailed plan aimed at achieving genuine and meaningful workforce consultation.
The third formal bargaining meeting also considered union-sponsored changes to the enterprise agreement aimed at protecting staff from excessive workloads.
CSIRO Executive provided an outline of suggested changes to several conditions – mainly relating to leave arrangements – but remain unable to offer any detailed proposals for negotiation; citing the absence of requisite Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) approvals.
The Staff Association proposal builds on advice issued by the APSC on genuine and effective employee and union consultation in Commonwealth agencies.
Pre-decision consultation with CSIRO staff would occur before proposed changes to work practices, policies, or guidelines, prior to major changes of strategy and ahead of any restructuring or relocation of jobs.
All consultative arrangements should be inclusive and respectful and take into account the diverse needs of employees. For significant changes, CSIRO should design and implement a formal consultation plan with clear opportunities for feedback, aligned to identified milestones.
“Improving workplace consultation is a priority issue for members and the union has presented a detailed proposal to make CSIRO a model employer for staff engagement,” Staff Association Secretary Susan Tonks said.
“CSIRO staff should be treated with respect and that means being consulted by Executive before decisions are made and with the reasonable expectation that feedback will influence the outcome of those decisions.”
“Our plan to deliver genuine and meaningful consultation at CSIRO is practical, effective and consistent with current developments from the service-wide bargaining process in the Australian Public Service,” Ms Tonks said.
The Staff Association also tabled a proposal to relieve excessive workloads, a major driver of workplace stress and psychosocial injury at CSIRO.
Under the plan, staff and union representatives would have the right to request management review work demand issues in the workplace with the aim of minimising health and safety risks to employees.
The model clause also calls for new rules to ensure that Work Objectives and Performance Indicators are clear, achievable and subject to mutual agreement.
While unable to provide their own detailed proposals – due to waiting on APSC approvals – CSIRO Executive did discuss, in general terms, plans to change several leave arrangements.
Substitution of all public holidays covered by National Employment Standards would be considered, subject to discussion and approval from line managers. Changes to cashing out recreation leave, in order to increase flexibility, are also on the table.
Executive also discussed suggested moves to amend purchased leave procedures and started a preliminary discussion on redundancy arrangements.
The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for Thursday 17 August.
Topic areas expected to be discussed include job security and the recognition and consultation of independent Health and Safety Representatives.
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