National

Latest CSIRO cuts hit manufacturing, agriculture and digital productivity

A further loss of specialised skills threatens the core research capability of the organisation, a union spokesman warns.

Manufacturing, agricultural and digital productivity researchers are next in the firing line as the CSIRO continues to slash jobs.

The CSIRO Staff Association has been informed of the next 75 jobs to go in the latest round of redundancies at the organisation. Affected researchers could be shown the door in the next three to four months. 

The CSIRO's funding was cut by $115 million in the May federal budget and more than 700 jobs in total are expected to go by the end of the financial year.

The loss reflects a broader trend of shrinking of expenditure and staff numbers over recent years. 

Forestry scientist jobs at the CSIRO expected to face the chop avoided a similar fate earlier this month.

Association secretary Sam Popovski said cuts in manufacturing were larger than expected.

"We were hopeful the cuts would be smaller this time because CSIRO management has essentially been trying to find sources of funding from industry to support jobs, particularly in the manufacturing area. Unfortunately that hasn't come to fruition," he said.

"Most Australians would expect that research that supports innovation and jobs in manufacturing, agriculture and the digital economy should be increased, not cut. So, I think that in addition to affected staff and their CSIRO colleagues, the wider community is entitled to feel dismayed at these cuts to Australia's future."

Manufacturing will take the biggest hit with up to 45 full-time equivalent positions facing the chop, affecting research into fibres, chemicals, high-performance metals, biomedical manufacturing and innovative industries.

The CSIRO's Agricultural Flagship will lose six researchers working in cereal physiology and genetics and aquaculture.

The Digital Productivity Flagship, which aims to improve Australian productivity through the use of data and digital technology, will cull 25 staff from across a range of unspecified programs.

The majority of job losses will be felt in Victoria and NSW, while a smaller number of positions will be cut in the ACT and Queensland.

The wider community is entitled to feel dismayed at these cuts to Australia's future.

Sam Popovski

A CSIRO spokesman did not comment on the latest job losses except to say they were included in previously announced cuts to staff numbers and no extra roles would be removed. 

Mr Popovski said the cuts came less than a month after the federal government released an industrial policy outlining five priority areas, including advanced manufacturing and agriculture.

"I feel the industry policy is not being treated seriously enough by the government given the urgent situation at the CSIRO," he said.

"These types of job cuts are cutting into the core research of the organisation. This means the loss of specialised skills."

Mr Popovski said union members affected by the redundancies would receive individual support and advice from Staff Association organisers and delegates.

But finding further employment in these areas would be difficult, he said. 

The association was also calling on staff to sign a pledge calling on incoming chief executive Larry Marshall to stop the cuts and commit to growing research and support jobs across the organisation.