Uni Melbourne in court over casuals’ pay

The FWO alleges the university underpaid casual staff in the Faculty of Arts

The Ombudsman specifically alleges that the university, “failed to record all hours worked by the casual academics, and further that the University made and kept records known to some managers within the Faculty to be false or misleading.”

This is separate to the FWO’s Federal Court action against Uni Melbourne, launched in August, alleging the university “coerced and take adverse action” against two casually employed academics to stop them claiming for work performed.

FWO Ombudsman Sandra Parker has long stated the agency’s concern, “about the allegations of systemic underpayment in many universities.

“Our current investigations have uncovered a trend of poor governance and management oversight, a lack of centralised human resources functions and inadequate investment in payroll and time-recording systems.” (CMM October 1 2022.

University of Melbourne responded Friday to the FWO announcement of the new case, telling CMM “staff affected by this historical issue have already been backpaid” and “the university has publicly acknowledged and apologised to past and current employees who have been paid less than they were due for work that they had performed.”

Good-o but properly paying casuals has become part of the overall question of careers for casuals and how universities across the country rely on them for low cost labour. As Uni Melbourne VC Duncan Maskell famously put it, there has been a, “systemic failure of respect from this institution for these valued, indeed vital employees,” (CMM November 15 2021).

In an email to Uni Melbourne staff Friday, advising the FWO’s court case, DVC People and Community Pip Nicholson  stated, “we are working to reduce our reliance on casual employment and we are discussing this important issue with the NTEU in the enterprise bargaining process that is currently under way.”

To which David Gonzalez, National Tertiary Education Union branch secretary responds to members that Uni Melbourne management  will not agree to a “legally-binding target for secure employment.”

As of January the university’s enterprise bargaining log of claims included a provision that offers of further employment to casuals to be at a minimum of 0.4 FTE (CMM January 23).