CSIRO back at bargaining table over Black Mountain bike bays

CSIRO staff in Canberra have had a small victory after management returned to the negotiating table over 100 places to park bicycles. 

The CSIRO Staff Association has been pushing for 300 bike bays at the organisation's new Black Mountain building. 

According to the association, management has been unwilling to talk about providing more than 200 until recently when fruitful talks were held. 

The CSIRO, whose national numbers have dropped by several hundred because of recent redundancies and a ban on temps and contractors, is set to abandon its headquarters in Campbell, near the War Memorial, and move all ACT staff to its Black Mountain  office.

Scott Wilkinson, from the staff association, said he and colleagues were pleased to be "definitely getting a hearing now" on the bike bays.

"Our request for 300 bike bays is now not being actively disputed," he said. 


"They're intending to have a workshop on this issue with the designers in another month.

"It is non-negotiable that we have adequate bike parking, although [in negotiations] it is a lower priority than adequate office accommodation."

A national staff association organiser, Paul Girdler, said he was in the process of arranging a meeting with management to discuss office space.

Mr Girdler said it appeared the CSIRO would continue with a "one size fits all" approach to floor space.

The staff association wanted to know more about the mix of open-plan office space compared to isolated "thinking space".

It wanted to increase the average space calculated per staff member, which was 14 square metres, and ensure open-plan offices did not dominate. 

He said 14 square metres, which was a Commonwealth government standard, was OK for support staff but not for highly-skilled  people often working on commercially sensitive information. 

"When thinking is what you're paid to do, you don't want to be doing it in an environment where there's an enormous amount of distraction and noise," Mr Girdler said. 

About 1500 staff were expected to work at Black Mountain after the Campbell office's lease expired in 2016.

"We don't want to get to the point where they are about to move people into a space that's unsuitable - that's why we've asked for a meeting and we'll also be surveying members," Mr Girdler said. 

A CSIRO spokesman said the organisation would continue to consult staff to deliver the best accommodation to meet the requirements of its science and corporate staff.

This would be done within the parameters of CSIRO benchmarks that  used government occupational density targets and following a review of leading research buildings in Australia and overseas.

"The accommodation principles allow for flexibility in design that allows for an appropriate mix of flexible workspaces including individual and shared work areas, seated and standing work areas, collaboration spaces, communal areas and meeting spaces," the spokesman said. 

CSIRO is experiencing a tumultuous time nationally.

About 420 jobs will be culled by the middle of next year following the recent federal budget, with 80 more full-time positions  likely to go in the following years.

The job losses will come as the CSIRO grapples with a funding reduction of $111.4 million over four years, with the organisation also to be hit with a separate "efficiency dividend" cut of $5 million during the forward estimates period.

Consolidation of CSIRO properties will cost about $196 million, but the organisation says it is critical to the sustainability of its operating budget, too much of which is spent maintaining old, dangerous buildings.