CSIRO staff slam 'band-aid' solution to cuts

At a protest against CSIRO job cuts at Parliament House, Canberra.

In response to widespread protests against plans to cut hundreds of jobs from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), chief executive Dr Larry Marshall has announced a new CSIRO climate research centre in Hobart.

But senior scientists have slammed the plan, saying that Australia is still facing a major reduction in its climate research program.

The scientists told ABC News on April 26 that the 40 researchers allocated to the new centre may struggle "to do even the minimum of maintaining an Australian forecasting capability".

Marshall had told staff in an email that 275 jobs would still be cut from the organisation, despite the establishment of the Hobart climate centre.

Moreover, since many of the jobs in climate research are currently based at the atmospheric research laboratory in Aspendale, Victoria, that centre would probably be closed down.

Scientist Dave Griggs, a former director of the Monash Sustainability Institute and International Panel on Climate Change, said: "While the retention of some of CSIRO's climate science capabilities is welcome, the level announced is analogous to trying to put a sticking plaster over a gaping wound."

The announcement that CSIRO management has slightly reduced the number of planned job cuts, from 350 to 275, will still result in the loss of hundreds of scientists and significant damage to Australian "public good" research, the CSIRO Staff Association warned.

Staff Association secretary Sam Popovski said that Marshall's email to staff made no mention of jobs under threat at the newly-created CSIRO entity Data61. "Even if the proposed losses fall to 275 positions, that doesn't seem to include another 70 positions which are set to go from Data61 or indeed another 40 research support roles, rendering this mitigation somewhat negligible in total job numbers.

"This worst-case scenario could see another 400 jobs shed — on top of the 1300 positions cut since 2014 — a loss of more than one in five jobs from the CSIRO workforce," Popovski said.

"CSIRO staff have many unanswered questions and many still face uncertain futures. Consultation has been grudging and desultory at best. Trust in the senior management has almost totally evaporated".

The Staff Association has renewed calls for science minister Christopher Pyne to intervene and declare a moratorium on job cuts until after the federal election.

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