Staff Association members have voted to authorise protected action at CSIRO, with the ballot result sending a strong message to the organisation’s senior leadership to improve their pay offer as bargaining talks continue.
As required by Australian workplace laws, protected action must be endorsed by a secret ballot of union members that achieves a double majority; the process requiring the participation of more than half the membership before achieving more than fifty per cent support for the specified actions.
Close to three-quarters (74 per cent) of Staff Association members participated in the protected action ballot with 83 per cent voting to approve stop work action, if necessary, to secure a decent pay outcome.
The results send a strong message and back up a member-only poll conducted in October where 81 per cent respondents rejected Executive’s first pay proposal of 11.2 per cent over three years.
The protected action ballot outcome increases the pressure on Executive to formally issue an increased pay offer and raises the stakes for enterprise bargaining at CSIRO, as agreement negotiations begin to focus on the overall proposal.
CSIRO Executive have formally rejected seeking an exemption from the Government’s bargaining policy to increase the pay proposal.
In a letter to the Staff Association, Executive bargaining representatives confirmed that they won’t even try to apply for an exemption to the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).
‘Following extensive consideration, including consultation with the APSC, CSIRO does not propose to seek an exemption from the policy because it does not consider that its circumstances are exceptional, in particular noting that all Australians are facing cost-of-living pressures and that all APS and non-APS employers were subject to previous iterations of the Workplace Relations Policy.’
‘The time taken to seek an exemption would unnecessarily delay bargaining, in circumstances where CSIRO wishes to put a proposed agreement to a ballot of employees as soon as possible and before early March 2024.’
Meanwhile, a clear majority of CPSU members in the Australian Public Service have voted to approve the APSC’s latest pay offer as part of service-wide bargaining.
The revised proposal includes a once-off payment equivalent to 0.92 per cent of an employee’s base salary in addition to a three year, 11.2 per cent pay increase (4% in the first year, followed by 3.8% and 3.4%) plus a suite of improved core conditions and workplace rights.
Over 16,000 CPSU members participated in the online poll with more than two thirds (67.5 per cent) participants voting to endorse the revised proposal.
Executive bargaining representatives are in the process of seeking approval from the APSC to adjust the CSIRO pay offering in a similar way.
‘If the Government confirms CSIRO is also able to implement this one-off payment, we will adjust our pay offer accordingly. This would mean that, if available to us, the one-off payment would be in addition to the transitional arrangements that enable backpay.’
If a revised pay proposal is put forward to staff or tabled by Executive in negotiations, CSIRO Staff Association members will be asked to participate in an online poll that will gauge support for the new offer.
Negotiations continued this week with much of the focus on superannuation arrangements, with Executive bargaining representatives supplying a draft clause.
The proposed changes would see the introduction of an equal rate of superannuation contributions, regardless of fund, and a phased move to ordinary time earnings (OTE) calculations.
Achieving super choice and moving to OTE have both been long-standing goals for Staff Association members over multiple bargaining campaigns and represent a major improvement.
Bargaining discussions also featured time off in lieu (TOIL) for CSOF level 5 and above, Annual Performance Agreements and Individual Flexibility Arrangements.
Negotiators will now start to focus on consolidating content agreed to in-principle and identifying outstanding items that require further consideration.
The views of Staff Association members are represented in enterprise agreement negotiations from the workplace to the bargaining table.
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