Consultation arrangements at CSIRO are facing a major shakeup, with Executive bargaining representatives agreeing to improve staff engagement processes in line with wider changes due across Commonwealth workplaces.
The development in enterprise bargaining negotiations arrives two weeks after the Staff Association tabled a proposal to introduce genuine and meaningful, pre-decision workforce consultation at CSIRO.
Elsewhere, talks focused on an Executive-sponsored proposal to change redeployment and redundancy rights while Staff Association negotiators started discussion around science integrity measures.
Improving consultation arrangements at CSIRO is a top bargaining priority for Staff Association members. An overwhelming 92 per cent of respondent to the union’s bargaining survey called for CSIRO staff to have access to meaningful consultation, before decisions are made and with the capacity to influence outcomes.
The issue subsequently formed a key part of the Staff Association’s bargaining claim and union negotiators recently presented a detailed plan aimed at securing pre-decision consultation, to make CSIRO a model employer for employee engagement.
Executive representatives have accepted that CSIRO needs to introduce some measure of pre-decision consultation, in line with expected improvements across federal public sector workplaces.
In an email to staff, CSIRO Executive Director Elanor Huntington confirmed “it is our intention to replace our current Enterprise Agreement (EA) clause with the Australian Public Service model consultation clause.”
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) model clause states that ‘genuine and effective consultation involves providing employees and the relevant union with a genuine opportunity to influence the decision prior to a decision being made (including) providing all relevant information… in a timely manner to support consideration of the issues.’
‘Genuine and effective consultation involves considering feedback from employees and the relevant union in the decision-making process; and advising… of the outcome of the process, including how their feedback was considered in the decision-making process.’
This clause builds on earlier APSC advice which stated that ‘the Government expects Commonwealth agencies, as model employers, to put in place measures that support to the greatest extent practical genuine consultation about major change and other issues, before any final decision has been made by a decision maker, including the agency head.’
‘Genuine and effective consultation with employees and relevant unions is sound management practice. It fosters a positive and inclusive workplace culture, where the views of employees are considered and taken into account before decisions that substantially impact them are made or implemented,’ the advice states.
Executive provided more information on their proposal to change redundancy and redeployment conditions in the EA, including the introduction of the ability to offer voluntary redundancies, in addition to existing substitution arrangements.
In response, Staff Association representatives called for careful consideration of the intersection between voluntary redundancy and pre-decision consultation.
Parties agreed to further discussion of the issue before wider consideration of Executive’s proposed clause changes.
Staff Association representatives initiated a discussion on science integrity, including the role that the EA can play in addition to existing structures.
Union negotiators are in the process of drafting a clause that provides support to CSIRO staff to disseminate findings and evidence-based research without limitations or impositions from funding parties including Government, industry and other external research partners.
A written proposal outlining the Staff Association’s position on science integrity will be provided at next week’s negotiation meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 28 August.
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