Microsoft costs cut CSIRO IT jobs

Microsoft costs cut CSIRO IT jobs

Summary: Increasing CSIRO costs could result in 40 to 50 of its IT staff losing their jobs, according to Dr Michael Borgas, CSIRO staff association president for the Community and Public Sector Union.

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Increasing CSIRO costs could result in 40 to 50 of its IT staff losing their jobs, according to Dr Michael Borgas, CSIRO staff association president for the Community and Public Sector Union.

According to the union, CSIRO's corporate support area had a frozen budget and $9 million in extra costs, $3 million of which were for Microsoft licences. The CSIRO is no longer considered as an academic organisation for software purposes, which has led to the additional charge, Borgas said.

In order to balance out the $9 million, savings that could not be found in other areas will have to be made by cutting jobs, the union said in a statement, with management not specifying a figure. The 40 to 50 number had been gleaned from sources, it said. IT support has around 300 staff, according to Borgas.

The union has said that CSIRO will unveil a new organisational structure after a national tour of sites, which started this Tuesday. Staff will then have some time to consider before applying for positions within that structure.

Borgas was concerned that the organisation seemed to be looking to retain workers with lower levels of skill and wages. He believed this would hinder scientists from being able to carry out their jobs efficiently, as the specialist IT workers supported the science projects heavily.

"IT is an essential part of doing the business of science now," he said, adding that if everyone was administering their own PCs and setting up their own labs, not as much science would get done. "If you're getting scientists to do that ... it's taking away time from the scientist."

A $70 to $80 million increase in capital expenditure, on, for example, laboratory equipment and computers, would also exacerbate the situation, he said. "Virtually no laboratory equipment that you can buy these days is devoid of IT."

Borgas expected that the redundancies would be made by September or October. The cuts are part of a larger program of support redundancies, according to Borgas.

CSIRO declined to comment, saying it would be premature to do so because of the face-to-face briefings it was currently holding with staff.

(Front page image credit: Parkes Radio Telescope "The Dish" image by Tamsin Slater, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Topics: Microsoft, Emerging Tech, Software, IT Employment

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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9 comments
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  • Has anyone counted the amount of licences are used in CSIRO?
    Maybe some people could/would like to use the open source alternative?
    Food for thought..
    Hovo-691a4
  • licences are counted regularly - it is the sudden change of status that is causing problems.
    Use of open source products widespread within parts of CSIRO, and the recent change of status may provoke more changes, but a total shift is out of the question.
    The vast majority of scientific instruments that are delivered these days use proprietry software written specifically for MS-windows. The same applies to software supporting our business processes.
    CJ2-fb14f
  • There's an easy solution to that problem. Stop using microsoft software....so many open source options out there at a much high quality of software too.
    like268@...
  • How many workstations do the CSIRO have?
    $3 million just does not sound quite right to me, sounds more like FEARism.

    Even with servers factored in, seriously something does not add up.
    scott2010au
  • Really? In an organisation the size of the CSIRO, a three million dollar *increase* over previous spend just doesn't seem that much. Microsoft's licensing is awe-inspiringly expensive, and often extracts money for the same thing multiple times (Server license + client license + CALs, OEM pre-install Windows licenses + enterprise agreement Windows licenses, etc).
    ringerc-d5785
  • Openoffice is compatible with WinXP/Vista/7. No need to ditch MS Windows if you don't want to.

    Somebody at CSIRO needs to give this a read:
    http://why.openoffice.org/
    Chris McMahon
  • Microsoft are now even after CSIRO sued Microsoft etc over the Wi-Fi patent.

    http://www.zdnet.com.au/microsoft-fujitsu-asus-settle-with-csiro-339295967.htm
    simon@...
  • With all the money they've made from their wifi patent the last thing they should have to do is drop workers.

    Having seen some CSIRO systems and so on, not to mention very expensive lab equipment sitting collecting dust, on the surface they appeared to be a very wasteful organisation. I wonder how many "spare" systems they have sitting there taking up license costs.

    It is worth mentioning that CSIRO does utilise some open-source software.
    phreeky
  • One should also remember that CSIRO is a Government instrumentality, and owns the Patent for the Wiinet Principle, which Microsoft itseelf, and many other big Businesses have been for years trying to force CSIRO to relinquish, this is what all of the readers sjould remember, or learn , if they are so illiterate that they do not know it
    Fredsan