Global spotlight on CSIRO cuts as work culture turns toxic, inquiry hears

Posted on March 14, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The following article was published on the ABC News website.

What is interesting is that the article hits upon the toxicity of such restructures on the organisations already “Toxic” Culture.  Little has changed since the CSIRO wasted approximately $4.5 million dollars of Australian Taxpayer money on an inquiry into Workplace Bullying and other Misconduct that failed to find any evidence of bullying because the legal firm investigating was not authorised to do so.

It can almost be guaranteed that CSIRO’s “HR Machine” will attempt to turn employee against employee in a rabid frenzy which it has done some many times already in its program of selling off the organisation piece by piece.

Global spotlight on CSIRO cuts as work culture turns toxic, inquiry hears

Australia’s top marine scientists are warning that the country’s international scientific standing will be damaged by the CSIRO’s climate restructure.

About 350 jobs nationally are expected to go by mid 2017, including an estimated 100 positions from the Oceans and Atmosphere Unit and 100 from land and water research.

A total of 191 staff work in the Oceans and Atmosphere division in Tasmania.

Scientific leaders from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) are giving evidence before the Senate’s Select Committee into Scrutiny of Government Budget Measures in Hobart.

The committee is headed by Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

Our whole reputation is at risk … our international reputation in delivering results.

Professor Richard Coleman

Senior CSIRO figures have also been called to appear and will give evidence via video link later.

IMAS executive director Richard Coleman and the institute’s Nathan Bindoff warned the world was watching.

Professor Bindoff attended a science conference in New Orleans last week.

“The questioners were always asking, ‘what is going on in the CSIRO?'” he said.

Professor Bindoff also said the international scientific community was “all very sensitised” to the changes, and pointed to a recent New York Times editorial condemning the restructure.

“It shows how influential Hobart has been,” Professor Bindoff said.

Professor Coleman agreed “our whole reputation is at risk … it’s our international reputation in delivering results”.

He also pointed to Hobart’s marine science study program, which he said consisted of 70 per cent international PhD students.

“That reputational damage … students will go somewhere else,” he told the committee.

Doubts on future creating ‘toxic’ culture

Another Hobart-based marine scientist originally from the United States, Dr Richard Matear, described a “toxic environment” within the CSIRO as all scientists were forced to question their future.

Dr Matear said leading scientists were already looking to other countries such as the US to further their opportunities.

Renowned scientist Dr John Church told the committee the CSIRO’s “reputation was trashed”.

Dr Church said the scientific community was “dismayed” by a lack of consultation and he expected to lose his job.

Earlier, the AAD’s chief scientist Dr Gwen Fenton told the committee the CSIRO was yet to consult with program heads about the proposed restructure.

She said news of the cuts was unexpected and scientists needed more details.

Dr Fenton told the committee she had felt “surprise” when she first heard about the changes and was “certainly deeply concerned as to what the impact will be to the program”.

“We know a lot of people on a personal level , which of course is very hard,” she said.

“Hobart is a very small community and the group on Aspendale [in Victoria] is also very close to us too. We have very good relations with all of the scientists.”

AAD head Dr Nick Gales is meeting officials in Canberra today.

Outside the hearings, about 300 CSIRO workers and family members gathered to protest against the proposed cuts.

A petition signed by 150 scientists attending the conference has called on the Federal Government to reconsider the organisation’s restructure.

The hearing coincides with an international climate conference on ice research in Hobart.

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2 Responses to “Global spotlight on CSIRO cuts as work culture turns toxic, inquiry hears”

RSS Feed for Victims of Bullying, Harassment, and Victimisation in the CSIRO Comments RSS Feed

Am I the first to feel this has the hallmarks of an Abbott Givernment-appointed, anti-climate change plan?

Interestingly enough a number of former CSIRO executives have reappeared in APS agencies under the umbrella of the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. It would be wholly unsurprising to discover that CSIRO were ditching key capabilities in order to acquire similar capabilities through a merger (read: takeover) of other similar APS agencies. Makes even more sense with the knowledge that the Commonwealth Science and Industry Act would not permit a takeover of CSIRO by these other agencies but would not prohibit inclusion of these agencies as we saw with CSIRO’s takeover of the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Station some years ago. Anyone wish to place a wager?

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