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Australian scientists vote to strike over new payment negotiations

03-04-2011 13:55 BJT

CANBERRA, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization ( CSIRO) members voted to take industrial action, as negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement drag on, local media reported on Friday.

On Thursday night, the Australian Electoral Commission confirmed that a recent protected action ballot was supported by 91 percent of the roughly 3,000 members of the CSIRO staff association, most of whom are scientists and technicians with the CSIRO. The CSIRO has roughly 6,000 staff in total.

According to The Australian newspaper, the association claimed that after seven months of talks, negotiations have stalled over management's refusal to budge on staff concerns about consultation provisions and redundancy entitlements.

Other sticking points involve staff redeployment, parental leave and management's three percent per annum pay rise offer.

The last enterprise bargaining agreement ended on Feb. 16 and the agreement under negotiation is slated to run to 2014.

According to CSIRO Staff Association president Michael Borgas, the pay dispute reflected the low status given to science by the Australian federal government.

Dr Borgas lashed out at an "increasing culture of bureaucracy" affecting public-sector research agencies, saying the government had "lost its way on science."

"Industrial action is not something CSIRO staff contemplate lightly," he told Canberra Times on Friday. "But management needs to understand we are very determined to fight off this substandard deal because it threatens to undermine the world-class work of CSIRO."

He said the scientists could stage a national strike as early as next week.

Meanwhile, CSIRO deputy chief executive Craig Roy said the agency had invited the staff association "to sit down again at the negotiating table and that has been accepted."

A meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, and Roy said it was anticipated these further negotiations "will proceed in a constructive manner."

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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