Archive for December, 2012

Internal email from CSIRO CEO to All Staff

Posted on December 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This morning, the CEO of CSIRO issued the following email to All CSIRO Staff.  While the email is aspirational, it is however,  somewhat lacking in a number of areas such as:

1. Addressing the Damage Done

Addressing the damage already done to staff as a result of workplace bullying, many who are suffering financial ruin and receiving minimal to no support from CSIRO whose negligence has been responsible for their injuries and hardship.

2.Reinstatement of Entitlements

Victims of CSIRO have spoken with many people who would like to seek reinstatement after having been forced out of the organisation due to its toxic workplace culture.  The very least Dr Clark could do is to reinstate the victims who are interested in returning to the organisation.

Who better to monitor the health of the organisation and effectiveness of CSIRO’s improved workplace culture than those who have suffered from its deficiencies? This may even go some ways towards demonstrating the CSIRO’s sense of social responsibility towards those it has negatively impacted.

Instead CSIRO continues to bring its Legal Muscle to bear against those hapless victims attempting to achieve some form of justice.  Accepting responsibility for our actions is the first thing we learn as children.  To date the CSIRO has accepted absolutely no responsibility for the actions of its employees and continues to deny any suggestion that there is a culture of workplace bullying despite the issuing of an organisation-wide Improvement Notice in relation to decades of workplace bullying.

This suggests a complete lack of emotional intelligence and/or a strong tendency towards narcissism in the ranks of the organisation.  Would it really hurt all that much to say “Sorry” to the people whose lives you have ruined?

3. Restoring Trust through Accountability

Noticeably missing from Dr Clark’s email is any mention of how CSIRO intends to make its new policies any more effective than its previous policies, many of which were applied inequitably or not applied at all.  We note that a significant number of fairly senior employees alleged to have engaged in serious misconduct or even criminal misconduct still retain privileged positions within the ranks of CSIRO’s Elite Executive Team without any form of sanction.

Are employees of the CSIRO going to treat the new policies any more seriously than they did the superseded policies if they are not held accountable for their actions.  We propose not as there are still more employees coming forward with current complaints of workplace bullying, harassment and victimisation, despite the massive amount of publicity surrounding this issue.

This would suggest that Dr Clark has done nothing to change the toxic culture of the organisation and that in fact, she has no authority of those working below her as they have effectively ignored her and continued to engage in highly damaging anti-social behaviour.

One surmises that only time will tell but the prediction is firmly on revisiting this issue once again after the current measures have failed and more employees are irreparably damaged over matters that should otherwise be easily resolved.

Judge for yourself!

From: Clark, Megan (OCE, Campbell)
Sent: Monday, 10 December 2012 10:45 AM
To: CSIRO – All Staff
Subject: Bullying and harassment

Dear All

As I promised in my last email, I want to update you on what we are doing to ensure that we work in a respectful place, free from bullying and harassment. Let me be very clear that there is no place for that type of behaviour in CSIRO. We have responsibilities to each other to build trust and respect in our daily interactions with colleagues and partners. We will not be successful in our goal of building a world class innovation organisation until everyone goes home safely at night with a sense of pride and satisfaction.

So where are we at?

Firstly, we are on track to complete all the requirements of the Comcare Improvement notice. We have also gone beyond that with the roll out nationally of an e-learning module – Recognising and Preventing Workplace Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination -which is stimulating some good discussion. I expect everyone to complete this training before the end of the year.

In addition to this, we’ve been focussing on leadership and 70 of our most senior leaders have received training on the issue, including further support where potential issues are identified. This leadership development is in addition to our ongoing program which focuses on values, accountability and emotional intelligence.

But this is just the start of our conversation and training and awareness.

We have also commenced working with Comcare on developing a multi-year strategy to improve our maturity in this area similar to our multi-year safety strategy. We have also stepped up our psychological health and well being improvement initiative which aims to raise awareness of risks and response strategies to improve health and wellbeing at work.

In parallel to these we have set out to revitalise our diversity and inclusion strategy, and I am now chairing the team which includes Sam Popovski from the Staff Association, amongst others, working on this as I see it as an important plank of building our innovation culture, and that means a culture where everyone has a chance to thrive and reach their potential.

While many of our work areas are already working with trust and respect and value inclusion, we need to remember that just one incident of bullying and harassment anywhere in CSIRO is one too many.  I am committed to making CSIRO an outstanding workplace and to do this we must all play our part and be responsible for our own behaviours.

I encourage you all to participate wholeheartedly in these efforts. Culture can be defined as “the way we do things round here” and the way we do things must be the right way.

Regards

Megan

Dr Megan Clark
Chief Executive
CSIRO
Phone: 02 6276 6621 |
megan.clark@csiro.au| www.csiro.au|
Canberra Address: CSIRO Corporate Centre, Limestone Avenue, Campbell, ACT 2612 (all correspondence)
Melbourne Address: 343 Royal Parade, Parkville VIC 3052

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New Satyrical Video posted on YouTube

Posted on December 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A new iteration of the movie “Downfall”.  Very entertaining yet quite poignant!

Check it out on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-KK_76y8EU

Steve Davies from APSOzloop (see our links page) has posted the following message:

It’s been a big year for bullying within the Australian Public Service. 

 We are delighted with Recommendation 8 of the national bullying report where the committee concluded that,

. . . the allegations of misuse of the mental health assessment referral power within the APS that the Committee heard about signify that there is a need to monitor how that power is used and how often there are reviews on the grounds of misuse.

 Putting a stop to administrative and managerial excesses more akin to those of a totalitarian regime really should be a ‘no brainer’. Some have compared the current state of affairs to those associated with Stalinist regimes.

 Now on the topic of Stalinist regimes (well, sort of), I have received a satirical movie prepared by some very clever people. From time to time I’ve said that many of those targeted for bullying and mobbing are clever, concerned and professional individuals who have dared to raise questions concerning the public service. Especially in relation to management and matters in the public interest.

It’s an appalling state of affairs and Australian Public Service agencies really need to do some serious growing up. So let’s hold the mirror up. What might the increasing calls for change look like to those who subscribe to the cultural attributes that, to greater or lesser degrees, are a feature of most Australian Public Service agencies?

 All that being said. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone sat around a very large table and had a chat?

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Radio 2CC Interview with Dr Michael Borgas

Posted on December 5, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Mile Welsh from Canberra’s Radio 2CC interviewed Dr Michael Borgas, President of the CSIRO Staff Association.  The summary of the interview and link to the podcast are provided below:

Dr Michael Borgas, president of the CSIRO Staff association, tells Mike Welsh that toxic workplaces are common in society.

http://www.2cc.net.au/podcasts/59-mike-welsh-podcasts/5065-toxic-workplace-at-csiro-pt-2.html

It is quite frankly appalling for anyone to suggest that toxic work places are common or normal or should in anyway be dismissed or tolerated.  The damage to people as a result of workplace bullying and victimisation is permanent and has a life-long effect.  The Victims of CSIRO refute any suggestion that this is a recent or peripheral as previous Enterprise Bargaining Statements of Claim issued by by the CSIRO Staff Association to CSIRO Management have included statements on bullying in the workplace.  The CSIRO Staff Association has also raised the matter with CSIRO Management at Consultative Committee meetings in relation to its impact on CSIRO and its reputation (what about members?)

If readers and members of the CSIRO Staff Association feel strongly enough about this issue, they should contact their local Staff Association Workplace Delegate expressing their desire that the CSIRO Staff Association collectively address the issue of bullying within CSIRO.

A word of advice to the CSIRO Staff Association.  Perhaps you should canvas your own members to determine exactly how wide spread this culture is within the CSIRO.  You might be unpleasantly surprised.

Whilst not detracting from the great work of the CSIRO Staff Association and in agreeing to agree that collective action is the most effective tool to combat workplace bullying we must strong disagree with the statements of Dr Borgas.

Oh, and by the way, we will continue to suggest to people contacting us that the CSIRO Staff Association may be able to provide assistance.  We just hope we have not been wrong!

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Hear what other people are saying about the issues…

Posted on December 5, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Below are some of the comments posted on the Ozloop website in relation  Steve Davies’ post: “CSIRO ordered to act on bullying – But is this the APS disease?.”

Comment by JA James 18 hours ago

The problem definitely starts with the leadership. I attended a meeting with a CSIRO victim that was headed by Megan Clark, CSIRO’s CEO. I felt Megan’s focus during the meeting was to put the onus on the victim to mitigate his losses (which he already had, as humanly possible, by getting another job and having therapy) rather than focus her attention on the culture of her own organisation, which is where the focus should be. Essentially, in my mind, she was victim-blaming. Perhaps there needs to be a change in leadership?

Comment by Winston Smith 20 hours ago

A group of 12 former and serving employees, represented by law firm Maurice Blackburn

Maybe we should see what else Maurice Blackburn has to offer??

”thoroughly reviewing” ways to get out of doing anything meaningful.

”thoroughly reviewing” the budget for legal expenses and finding it was already exhausted by AAT costs.

”thoroughly reviewing” prospects of keeping ones job if things get too embarrassing.

ComReallyDoesntCare about much else.

Comment by S Rimmington yesterday

A very insightful article and post.

A Parliamentary enquiry into Comcare is well over due and when this occurs, people should be encouraged to lodge submissions about the efficacy of Comcare’s processes.

Comment by Serene Teffaha yesterday
Neil Quarmby had issued the notice to CSIRO, not because Comcare had intervened at the right time (which would have been a decade ago), but because the situation has become an embarrassing one for Comcare.

Indeed, Comcare only acts to do the right thing when it becomes embarrassing enough for them! Now I am not going to make a big song and dance about this notice because it is one of the more lenient sanctions that Comcare can dish out under the circumstances. I would like to see some criminal prosecution for these bully-boy culprits!

CSIRO is the Government’s leading scientific body. A society is measured by how it treats its scientists. Australia is doing very badly when we have been smelling rotting carcasses coming out from CSIRO’s laboratories from over a decade ago and have failed to do anything.
It takes the insistence and persistence of 12 disgruntled staff and a number of Court actions from senior scientists to get Comcare moving!

There needs to be a Royal Commission into Comcare’s failings to act to prevent the disaster that is the bully-boy culture of the CSIRO. Furthermore, Comcare needs to come under scrutiny for its failure to intervene to stop similar rotting cultures across the APS. Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest that Comcare plays a pivotal role in supporting such poisonous cultures….until, of course, it becomes embarrassing to do so!
A note to Sedgwick (who pays attention to to these blogs)—this ain’t no gossip when its true!

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Capital Radio 2CC broadcast on Toxic Workplace in CSIRO

Posted on December 5, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Radio 2CC drive presenter, Mike Welsh broadcast a segment on the Toxic Workplace Culture within the CSIRO.  The summary and hyperlink to the podcast of the segment are provided below:

Summary:

A CSIRO employee who has experienced bullying, harassment and isolation in the workplace talks to Mike Welsh about how colleagues are constantly on suicide watch for co-workers. For more information: https://victimsofcsiro.com/

Podcast:

http://www.2cc.net.au/podcasts/59-mike-welsh-podcasts/5063-toxic-workplace-at-csiro.html

Thanks to Mike and the Team at 2cc Capital Radio in addressing this very serious issue.

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Liberals push for action on bullying

Posted on December 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Another news story from Canberra based Journalist Noel Towell at the Canberra Times

Liberals push for action on bullying

Date
December 5, 2012

The Coalition has demanded the federal Labor government intervene over continued allegations of bullying at the CSIRO.

ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries and his Tasmanian colleague, Eric Abetz, said on Tuesday that either the Science Minister or the Workplace Relations Minister needed to ”stamp” on what the Liberal senators alleged was a ”culture of bullying” at the science and research organisation.

Fairfax Media revealed on Monday that Commonwealth workplace safety authority Comcare had issued an ”improvement notice” in June to the CSIRO, instructing that its responses to bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict, psychological stress or injuries were not good enough.

The notice came after years of allegations of a toxic workplace culture at CSIRO, which employs about 6600 staff in 50 locations around Australia and overseas. CSIRO confirmed on Monday it had received the notice and was willing to comply.

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But the Coalition senators said ministerial intervention was needed.

”We are concerned with the culture of bullying that has been exposed in the CSIRO,” Senator Abetz said.

”The CSIRO employs 6600 of our fellow Australians, there has been a clear culture of bullying that we have sought to expose at Senate estimates.

”We now have Comcare willing to intervene with a second notice to the CSIRO, telling them to get their house in order.

”The current Minister for Science is none other than Senator Chris Evans, the previous workplace relations minister.

”One would have thought that between Senator Evans and (Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten) there would have been somebody in the Labor government willing to stamp on this issue within the CSIRO.

”What we’re calling for today is for a minister to step up to the plate and tell the CSIRO to get their house in order and drive the reform that is so desperately needed.” Asked if ”heads would roll” at CSIRO under a Coalition government, Senator Abetz said the culture would change.

”Sophie Mirabella, our shadow minister for science, has been outspoken on this, she has indicated she totally rejects that culture of buying,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Senator Evans said the minister had been briefed on the matter.

”He has been assured the concerns are being treated very seriously and is confident CSIRO will continue to comply with the Comcare improvement notice,” the spokeswoman said.

Senator Humphries widened the attack, accusing the Gillard Labor government of a ”disorganised and erratic” approach to public sector management. ”The CSIRO is a very important national institution and is very important to Canberra. This culture of workplace bullying that we have seen a light shone on today, much is wrong in the CSIRO as well as in other major workplaces around Canberra,” Senator Humphries said.

”It concerns me that we’re seeing this breakdown in the culture of the public service as public servants try to deal with this disorganised and erratic administration of the public service.”

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CSIRO Employee Sacked over a Big Mac

Posted on December 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A busy day for the Canberra times.  This second article from journalist Noel Towell has just been published on the Canberra Times website.

Sacked over a Big Mac

Date
December 4, 2012 – 1:11PM

Noel Towell

Jack Hoffman was stood down after the technician treated himself to some drive-thru in a work car, on the way home from work on evening in May.
Jack Hoffman was stood down after the technician treated himself to some drive-thru in a work car, on the way home from work on evening in May. Photo: Rohan Thomson

A former CSIRO technician who says he was sacked from the organisation over a Big Mac hamburger is battling to get his job back.

Jack Hoffman has taken his reinstatement fight to Fair Work Australia, alleging that his bosses at the Deep Space Communications Complex south of Canberra were “harsh and unreasonable” when they stood him down after the technician treated himself to some drive-thru on the way home from work on evening in May.

The 10-year CSIRO veteran was driving a work car when he bought his burger and was spotted by fellow workers, “dobbed-in” to management and stood down for misconduct; the private use of a company car.

The 49-year-old was re-instated in early June but he resigned a month later, claiming he was subjected to a concerted campaign of bullying and harassment.

He is now trying to get his job back, claiming constructive dismissal and that his managers were looking for ways to “get rid” of him.

The two sides will meet at a FWA conciliation hearing on December 10 and CSIRO has been contacted today for comment on Mr Hoffman’s case.

In his FWA application, Mr Hoffman said he was forced out of the job he loved.

“It was a constructive dismissal; I was forced to resign from my position as I could not tolerate the bullying, victimisation, harassment, humiliation and ridicule that I was forced to suffer in my workplace,” the application reads.

He told The Canberra Times that he was simply hungry when he pulled into the Conder branch of McDonalds for a burger.

“I hadn’t eaten all day at work, I was hungry and I was very tired after a very difficult week at work,” he said.

“When I stopped at McDonalds, which was on my direct route home, I wasn’t thinking and I simply reacted instinctively and this was not deliberate conduct on my behalf.

“Can you believe I lost my job over a Big Mac?”

The Canberra Times revealed on Tuesday that the federal workplace insurance authority has issued an ‘improvement notice’ to CSIRO, instructing that its responses to bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict, psychological stress or injuries were not good enough.

The notice comes after years of public allegations of a toxic workplace culture at CSIRO which employs about 6600 staff in 50 locations around Australia and overseas.

CSIRO confirmed on Monday that it was in receipt of the notice and has begun work to comply with its instructions.

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CSIRO ordered to act on bullying

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

Courtesy of the Canberra Times

CSIRO ordered to act on bullying

Date
December 4, 2012
The CSIRO facility on Limestone Avenue.The CSIRO facility on Limestone Avenue. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

The federal work safety authority, Comcare, has officially ordered the CSIRO to protect its staff against psychological injuries caused by bullying and harassment.

The federal workplace insurance authority has issued an ”improvement notice” to the science and technology organisation, saying its responses to bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict, psychological stress or injuries were not good enough.

There have been years of public allegations of a toxic workplace culture at the CSIRO, which employs about 6600 staff in 50 locations around Australia and overseas.

The CSIRO confirmed on Monday that it had received the notice and was willing to comply. A group of 12 former and serving employees, represented by law firm Maurice Blackburn, who are pushing for workplace reform were told last month the notice had been served on the organisation after a Comcare investigation.

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Senior Comcare official Neil Quarmby wrote that the decision to issue the notice had been made after the insurer spent several months ”thoroughly reviewing the workplace systems relating to the prevention and management of bullying behaviour at CSIRO”.

”As a result of those investigations, and due to a range of deficiencies identified, Comcare has issued CSIRO with an Improvement Notice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011,” he wrote to the lawyers.

Specifically, the notice asks for ”the review and improvement of CSIRO’s governance systems around the management of workplace misconduct and of allegations of bullying;

”The provision of training to CSIRO staff regarding misconduct, bullying and workplace conflict;

”The proper support and management of workers exhibiting psychological distress or injury;

”The implementation of systems ensuring regular workplace hazard and risk assessment of psychosocial risk factors; and

”The notification of incidents of bullying to Comcare.”

Maurice Blackburn principal Giri Sivaraman said the improvement notice was ”quite extensive and quite broad”.

”We think that Comcare is taking the allegations of bullying quite seriously and it’s a very serious step to issue a provisional improvement notice and there are very serious consequences if CSIRO doesn’t comply with that notice,” Mr Sivaraman said.

”All of them [the clients] simply want to see the standards of CSIRO improve and a stop to workplace bullying at CSIRO.”

A CSIRO spokesman, Huw Morgan, confirmed the notice had been received.

”Comcare has issued CSIRO with an improvement notice to ensure CSIRO provides and maintains safe systems of work,” Mr Morgan said.

”CSIRO is working with Comcare to implement the required

amendments to its policies and procedures and this process will be completed by December 31, 2012.”

Another former employee, Sylwester Chyb, who is taking court action against the CSIRO, said workplace bullying problems existed throughout the organisation.

”It happens across many divisions, all locations, it’s pervasive,” Dr Chyb said. ”I was a senior scientist but this happens to junior research staff, technicians, to administrators and people in IT.

”In a lot of cases it’s payback for whistleblowing.”

In September, a parliamentary inquiry examining workplace bullying in Commonwealth federal agencies published a submission by a group of former employees, some of them leading scientists.

According to the submission, the group was aware of 60 cases involving top-flight scientists and other officials who were bullied or otherwise forced out of the organisation.

Fairfax Media also reported at the time that the CSIRO was facing mounting damages bills from occupational health and safety claims made to Comcare, with premiums Comcare charges the research organisation nearly tripling from $1.9 million in 2011-12 to $4.9 million this financial year.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/csiro-ordered-to-act-on-bullying-20121203-2arij.html#ixzz2E1spw5f8

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Spot the Difference between these two responses

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

Attempt to spot the difference between these two letters of reply from the Hon. Senator Christopher Evans’ ministerial office.  Both letters were responses from separate complaints to the minister’s office alleging abuses by the CSIRO of its privileged status and violations of its model litigant obligations under the Legal Services Directive (2005) in relation to two separate judicial cases.

Obviously, Minister Evans is not too concerned about the waste of many millions of dollars in Tax Payer funds being spent by Federal Agencies under his jurisdiction.  This is a slap in the face for the many Australian’s struggling in the current economic climate, particularly those previously in the service of the Australian Government whose positions have been shed as a result of ongoing productivity targets.

In many cases, the cost of litigation far exceeds the cost of amicably settling the issues at the outset.

Shedding the positions of those highly paid individuals who chose so blatantly to waste our hard-earned dollars seems to be a much better value proposition.

The Attorney-General’s department seems to be somewhat tight-lipped on these issues.

More will be published in a future posting exposing some of the dodgy legal tactics engaged in by the CSIRO in trying to avoid the responsibility of its lawful obligations.

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