Union and staff bargaining representatives have been left frustrated after the latest enterprise agreement (EA) negotiation meeting, with CSIRO Executive continuing to stonewall discussion on pay or any matter with a financial impact.
CSIRO Executive still maintain that without Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) approval, no proposals with financial implications – including a pay offer – will be discussed or tabled during formal talks.
However, Executive representatives have offered no assurances that CSIRO staff will not be financially disadvantaged if enterprise bargaining is delayed beyond the expiry of the current agreement in mid-November.
Elsewhere, Staff Association members and CSIRO employees are participating in a series of workplace meetings to evaluate the progress of bargaining while the wait for a formal pay offer drags on.
Despite a small pause in talks to allow some progress with the APSC – or at the very least obtain clarification of the approval timeframe – Executive representatives turned up to negotiations empty handed.
In an email, CSIRO Executive stopped short of offering an apology to staff and instead tried to shift the blame.
‘CSIRO acknowledged the challenges resulting from not being able to discuss items with financial impacts until we receive approval… from the APSC and the added difficulty due to final outcomes from APS service-wide bargaining not being available yet.’
After eight negotiation meetings and with less than two months until the nominal expiry date of the current agreement, CSIRO Executive’s bargaining position and strategy is largely unknown.
The interaction and relationship between Executive bargaining representatives and the APSC remains opaque and repeated requests for transparency – for example the expected delivery date for the Remuneration Declaration approval – are largely ignored.
While APSC approvals and service-wide bargaining outcomes offer ready-made excuses for Executive representatives to account for the slow progress of bargaining, there can be no denying that the leadership vacuum at the very top of CSIRO goes a long way to explaining the inactivity and lack of accountability.
Topics discussed at the most recent meeting included job security, restoration of agreement content, representation rights, science integrity and consultation.
Conversations commenced on two issues – flexible/work from home arrangements and parental leave – nominated as priorities by Staff Association members.
However, CSIRO Executive’s ongoing reluctance to discuss matters with a financial impact continues to hamper serious negotiation.
Meanwhile, Staff Association members and CSIRO employees continue to participate in a national series of workplace meetings to assess the progress in bargaining.
Early feedback from meeting participants underscores the importance of a formal pay offer that addresses cost-of-living pressures and bears some comparison with other research industry salaries.
Members have expressed concern that the ongoing delays from CSIRO Executive may have financial implications if a new enterprise agreement is not in place before the nominal expiry date of the current deal in mid-November.
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