Uni Melbourne acknowledges reliance on casuals must change

Just 72 were offered continuing employment under new legislation

Uni Melbourne VC Duncan Maskell has apologised and the university has, or will, pay casually employed academics owed nearly $10m because there were paid the wrong-rate.

There has been a “systemic failure of respect from this institution for those valued, indeed vital employees,” Professor Maskell said (CMM September 10).

And in the last weeks management has acknowledged to staff meetings that the university’s workforce structure, which relies on casuals is “neither desirable nor sustainable.”

Good-o, but only 72 out of 7700 casuals on the university’s books were offered continuing jobs under a new process required by the Fair Work Act. The university states it acted according to “specific legislative condition(s) that informed the assessment for conversion to permanent employment” and the same outcome is occurring across the country (scroll down). But this does not make long-term casuals feel better.

“The root cause of systemic underpayment of casual staff wages is the endemic casualisation of the university’s workforce. If the university is genuinely committed to being a fair workplace and a ‘world-class’ educational institution, it must convert casual staff into secure employment,” nearly 350, mainly long-term, casual academics state in an open letter to Professor Maskell.