CSIR restructuring to impact staff

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Job cuts loom at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which says it is at an advanced stage of implementing its new strategy, “a move that will see the adoption of a re-organised CSIR-wide operating model”.

The organisation has begun a consultation process with the employees it is looking to let go.

The announcement comes after the council earlier this year said it had adopted a new strategy focusing on Industry 4.0.

The CSIR says the science, engineering and technology staff reorganisation and confirmation began in August and was completed in September.

“After a rigorous process of reviewing and benchmarking against our peers, both locally and internationally, in October, we commenced with the reorganisation of our support staff across the CSIR.”

With about 2 700 employees, the CSIR is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa.

It did not indicate how many employees will be impacted by the retrenchments.

Constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1945 as a science council, the CSIR undertakes multidisciplinary research, technological innovation as well as industrial and scientific development.

“The CSIR is confident these changes will support the ultimate goal of fulfilling its mandate of improving the quality of lives of South Africans through science and technology,” the organisation says.

“As such, the CSIR board recently approved the new structures for support staff (finance, procurement, human capital, legal and compliance services, enterprise risk management, SHEQ [safety, health, environment and quality] services, facilities management and strategic communication, as well as the operationally embedded support staff).”

It says the implementation of these structures is expected to be largely completed by the end of 2019, and will see many support structures and positions being re-designed.

Staff members whose roles were retained in the new support structures received confirmation letters stating their continued appointment in their current roles, it states.

This process allowed the CSIR to define existing roles that become redundant or change within the new structures, it adds.

It points out there are opportunities for affected staff members, as a number of new roles “will allow focused career enhancement and/or refinement”.

To allow for consultations on these, the affected staff members this week received section 189 notices, in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act 66 of 1995).

The first consultation took place yesterday.

The CSIR is also exploring opportunities with stakeholders for possible transfers, and will consider half-day or reduced working hours for those interested in securing such “lifestyle adjustments”.

“Should the remaining affected staff members not wish to pursue any of these alternatives, the CSIR will retain these members for redeployment in special projects and assignments requiring their relevant skills and, in particular, in support of the various small, medium and micro enterprise support initiatives we undertake.

“At the CSIR, we trust that although disruptive, the changes we are making will strengthen our resolve and ability to be the accelerators of socio-economic prosperity in South Africa through leading innovation.”

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