Response to Questions on Notice BI-8 (CSIRO IM&T Restructure)

Posted on August 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Below is the first in a series of responses to be posted in relation to CSIRO’s answers to Questions taken on notice during the Senate Estimates – Economics Committee hearing held on the 28th of May 2012.

 Senate Standing Committee on Economics

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE

Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Portfolio

Budget Estimates Hearing 2012-13

28 and 29 May 2012

AGENCY/DEPARTMENT: COMMONWEALTH SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION (CSIRO)

TOPIC: Information Management Technology Division – restructure

REFERENCE: Question on Notice (Hansard, 28 May 2012, page 28)

QUESTION No.: BI-8

 Senator COLBECK: Were information management technology division employees advised in 2010 that all except senior management positions would be restructured in that division? Did this result in the loss of around 30 positions? If so, on what date were the employees originally advised of the restructure and what date was the CEO of Centrelink notified?

 Dr Clark: Yes, we did have a restructure. In terms of the detail, we would be happy to take that on notice and provide you with that distinct detail.

 Senator COLBECK: So it did result in the loss of 30 positions?

 Dr Clark: It is certainly in that order. This week, I was reviewing the IMT progress, actually, of the groups following that. I have been very pleased with the way our IMT team has been working.

They are a truly exceptional group in the management of our IT systems. And the platforms that we need for the future, which is what this particular group works on, are going extremely well. I am quite pleased with it. We have undergone that restructure of that order of positions.

 Senator COLBECK: You are not aware of any breaches of section 530 of the Fair Work Act in respect of that particular matter?

Dr Clark: I am not, but you did ask for some more specific information regarding dates and we will provide you with that.

CSIRO’s RESPONSE

ANSWER

On 17 May 2010, Information Management & Technology (IM&T) staff were advised that the IM&T function would be restructured with likely impacts on future staffing requirements.

The following IM&T staff were not impacted by this restructure: Library; Advanced Scientific Computing: Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network; iVEC; and two Executive Management roles (the Chief Information Officer and one Executive Manager).

All Senior Manager roles were in scope for this restructure. Staff identified as potentially redundant were formally notified on 23 June 2011.

The number of staff made redundant as a result of this process was 35. The CEO of Centrelink was formally notified on 14 February 2011.

NOW FOR THE REAL STORY

The first round of terminations occurred in October/November 2010, not on the 23rd of June 2011 as asserted in CSIRO’s response to the questions on notice.  In the notification issued to Centrelink at 5:58pm on the 14th of February 2011 (see below), CSIRO IM&T Human Resources Manager, Mr Ian Chalker states:

 “Thirty IT staff and eight library staff have now been made redundant.”

CSIRO IM&T staff were advised on the 17th of May 2010 that a restructure of CSIRO IM&T would result in around 30 less positions.   At this point CSIRO had a legal obligation to inform the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency (Centrelink) under section 530. of the Fair Work Act (2009) which states:

 “If an employer decides to dismiss 15 or more employees for reasons of an economic, technological, structural or similar nature, or for reasons including such reasons, the employer must give a written notice about the proposed dismissals to the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency (Centrelink).”

The Fair Work Act also states that:

“The notice must be given:

(a)  as soon as practicable after making the decision; and

(b)  before dismissing an employee in accordance with the decision.

(4)  The employer must not dismiss an employee in accordance with the decision unless the employer has complied with this section.”

The relevant section of the Fair Work Act (2009) can be viewed below.

The CSIRO by its own admission has unlawfully terminated the positions of 30 staff under the provisions of Section 530. of the Fair Work Act (2009). CSIRO DID NOT inform the CEO of Centre link as soon as it became aware of the likelihood that it would terminate more than 15 positions (of which it assumedly would have been aware in the months prior to May 2010 at which time CSIRO IM&T Executives were reviewing the budget). It is unclear whether the letter faxed to Comcare could even be considered to have met CSIRO’s obligations under the Act

It is also unlikely that CSIRO’s CEO, Dr Megan Clark would have been unaware of such a monumental oversight in what was a significantly risky and sizeable organisational restructure, unless of course she was truly asleep at the wheel.

How have the CSIRO Executive Management Team responded to such an example of gross incompetence?

…the silence is truly deafening!!!

REFERENCES:

FAIR WORK ACT 2009 – SECT 530

Employer to notify Centrelink of certain proposed dismissals

(1)  If an employer decides to dismiss 15 or more employees for reasons of an economic, technological, structural or similar nature, or for reasons including such reasons, the employer must give a written notice about the proposed dismissals to the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency (Centrelink).

(2)  The notice must be in the form (if any) prescribed by the regulations and set out:

(a)  the reasons for the dismissals; and

(b)  the number and categories of employees likely to be affected; and

(c)  the time when, or the period over which, the employer intends to carry out the dismissals.

(3)  The notice must be given:

(a)  as soon as practicable after making the decision; and

(b)  before dismissing an employee in accordance with the decision.

(4)  The employer must not dismiss an employee in accordance with the decision unless the employer has complied with this section.

Note:          This subsection is a civil remedy provision (see Part 4-1).

(5)  The orders that may be made under subsection 545(1) in relation to a contravention of subsection (4) of this section:

(a)  include an order requiring the employer not to dismiss the employees in accordance with the decision, except as permitted by the order; but

(b)  do not include an order granting an injunction.

LETTER TO CENTRELINK

                                                                                                                             

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