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CSIRO staff can swap the sack in redundancy option


Phillip Thomson

Swap-and-stay: The CSIRO will allow voluntary redundancy substitution.

Swap-and-stay: The CSIRO will allow voluntary redundancy substitution. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Like swapping lunches in the school playground, federal public servants will be able to duck Joe Hockey's battle axe by trading places with colleagues.

It is understood the CSIRO will leave open the option for staff to use voluntary redundancy substitution as it culls another 500 jobs - most  of these by the middle of next year - as it loses $111 million in funding over four years.

CSIRO Staff Association spokesman Anthony Keenan said it wanted voluntary redundancy substitution used as a frontline option in the restructuring process, but there could be a looming challenge.

"Last year, when they announced 200 redundancies, there were at least 80 people who took up the opportunity to substitute and stay, while another 80 replaced them," he said. "But now the cuts are starting to bite and I think in the coming months there will be a challenge, because it might be oversubscribed with people who want to stay."

Mr Keenan did not believe it would not be an option to accept a lower pay classification after swapping to remain employed at the CSIRO. 

Former senior public servant Paddy Gourley said some believe the swap-and-stay mechanism allowed performers to leave for greener pastures while letting the non-performers stay.

"But in other cases, the offer of redundancy is much more attractive," he said.  "Sometimes these same people often carry the history of the organisation and you lose a fair bit of corporate knowledge.

"I suppose [voluntary redundancy substitution] makes sense, provided the person who stays fits into the office." 

A CSIRO Staff Association fact sheet says the CSIRO will not refuse an officer’s election to be placed on the substitution register.

"Substitution will, however, only be approved where CSIRO determines that the skills of both individuals are a close match and there will be no adverse impact to ongoing work requirements," the fact sheet says. 

The CSIRO has released its annual directions statement, which says the organisation will attempt to work more with private industry, including further collaboration with small to medium enterprises, to increase revenue.

It will reduce staff travel, and conferences and meetings will only be held off-site in certain circumstances.

CSIRO is also consolidating its buildings as it reduces staff, who will receive $24.5 million in payouts as they leave in 2013-14. Anumber of those made redundant will be senior staff.

There are other ways CSIRO staff can avoid the axe. One was accepting a reduction in pay classification, although Mr Gourley said this was rare because it meant workers "lose face".

It was also difficult for lower-ranking employees to find jobs in areas further down the pay scale because those opportunities had often been "obliterated by technology". 

A third option was to go on the redeployment register, where staff wait for a position in another department or agency. 

7 comments so far

  • Swapping with a person designated surplus is not new - my wife did it back in the mid 1990s when the birth of our second child meant that it was only just less dollars staying at home.
    The concern for organisations is that there can be differences in the final cost (ie differences between the two in length of service) as well as the article's comment about skills and experience.

    in the main, it is a far better solution that forced redundancies, in my opinion.

    Been there
    Date and time
    May 20, 2014, 2:33PM
    • Redundancy is meant to be about the position not being required - it is not meant to be based on skills or individual attributes. Although no doubt that all comes into play when several positions on a team are to go . . . . . I have been redunant twice (so far).First time I was told that they wanted to keeper the "younger guys" - I was over 40 at the time and female. Second time - not enough work, some people have to go . . . and this time it was people over 40 who seemed to get the tap on the shoulder. And Smoking Joe thinks that we can work until 70 . . . . . deluded.

      As If
      Date and time
      May 20, 2014, 2:43PM
      • The reality is that when you cut so many jobs in a short space of time everyone's job description will change.

        Date and time
        May 20, 2014, 3:13PM
        • So basically a bunch of 30 year olds are going to swap their redundancy with a bunch of 64 year olds, who will get a few hundred thousand dollars in payouts....great cost saving initiative

          Date and time
          May 20, 2014, 4:32PM
          • Being Jeffed - Kennett Government 1992-1999
            A good option for some close enough to tide over the redundancy payment to the access of superannuation .
            Obtain good financial advice - Depends on family circumstances and debt levels or commitments.
            A hard lesson-The replacement skill level good or bad is not a consideration as you are only a number in the end and it will meet the targets set.
            You cannot work for the Government again which is its own mixed blessing.
            Know yourself. It there a dream unfulfilled for the after work life?
            It has been known by Victorian teachers as a Jeff Kennett scholarship .
            This one a Tony Abbott scholarship or sabbatical. Good luck it may be oversubscribed.

            Date and time
            May 20, 2014, 5:05PM
            • Once people figure out how it works financially lots of people will consider volunteering. The real problem is when people are denied the chance to volunteer to take one up or the opportunity to swap into an ongoing role. These are the really tricky decisions for management which they can easily get wrong if they are not being even-handed. There should be the opportunity to do swaps across the whole PS not just within Departments.

              Jolly Roger
              Date and time
              May 20, 2014, 10:48PM
              • WHY.

                Date and time
                May 21, 2014, 8:13AM

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