CSIRO staff are set to benefit from a major bargaining breakthrough on backpay, with the announcement of arrangements that would allow the payment of a transitional salary increase as part of any new enterprise agreement finalised before mid-March 2024.
The practical effect of the new arrangements means that CSIRO negotiations will continue with a pay safety net – albeit with conditions attached – beyond the 16 November nominal expiry date of the current agreement.
This development is a big win for staff and the result of campaigning by CPSU members in CSIRO and across the federal public sector.
Meanwhile, Executive representatives continue to remain silent on the outcome of the recent Staff Association member poll on the first pay offer; preferring instead to ignore the views of the more than 1,500 staff who participated in the activity.
Discussions at the bargaining table continue, with the most recent negotiation meeting featuring discussion of remote localities allowances and Workplace Issues Resolution Procedures.
In an email to staff, Executive bargaining representatives outlined the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) proposal.
‘Subject to certain conditions CSIRO may pay a wage increase “backdated” to the anniversary date of the last scheduled wage increase provided that we commence a ballot for a new agreement before 14 March 2024, which results in a majority of employees voting to approve the agreement.’
The development represents a major breakthrough, with the APSC being forced – due to sustained pressure from CPSU campaigning – to change their own policy and allow back pay to for non-APS agencies.
While Executive representatives say that ‘CSIRO is committed to achieving the best outcome that we can’ and that staff ‘perspectives and questions… will continue to guide us through the bargaining process,’ these claims have been paid lip service with the lack of response to the recent pay poll.
1,531 Staff Association members took part in the confidential poll, representing close to a third of all CSIRO employees. 81 per cent (1,246 respondents) determined that Executive’s three year, 11.2 per cent proposal wasn’t good enough.
Yet Executive bargaining representatives have failed to muster even a modicum of respect for those staff that participated by refusing to acknowledge the poll’s existence, let alone the outcome or the ramifications of the result for the CSIRO pay debate.
Back at the bargaining table, Executive tabled an amended remote localities clause to improve and ensure eligibility for those based out of Murchison.
However, the constructive approach adopted by union negotiators regarding the Workplace Issues Resolution Procedures (WIRP) has been rebuffed by Executive bargaining representatives.
The Staff Association believes that a fair, clear and improved outline of the process for affected workers and a statement of principles needs to be included in the enterprise agreement as part of the WIRP review process.
The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for Monday 6 November.
*This post has been edited to remove references referring to CSIRO as a Government Business Enterprise following advice from Executive bargaining representatives.