Uni Melbourne VC apologises over underpayment of casuals

a systemic failure of respect from this institution for those valued, indeed vital employees,” says Duncan Maskell

The University of Melbourne states it underpaid “more than” 1000 past and present casual academic staff in the faculties of Arts, Fine Arts and Music, Engineering-IT, MedicineDentistryHealth Sciences and Science and has now paid them “around” $9.5m.

The payment process continues for staff in Arts, and Fine-Arts Music for 2014-19 to claim for “previously unreported hours of work for marking and lecture attendance.”

“I give my assurance that the university will continue efforts already underway to fully remediate affected individuals’ claims, and to put in place systems and processes to prevent these under-payments being repeated,” Professor Maskell stated to the university community yesterday.

To which Nick Robinson from the university’s Casuals Network responded that while the apology was welcome management had “dragged their feet kicking and screaming on acknowledging the scale of the problem.”

Professor Maskell adds the university has “prioritised preparatory work” for a new payroll system, plus “mandatory training, guidance notes and employment practice reviews to ensure those with responsibility for engaging casual staff have a clear understanding of, and adherence to, the terms of casual employment.”

This is a win for the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union and casual staff members who have spoken out over the underpayment of casuals for years. But union president Annette Herrera warns the VC’s apology will “ring hollow” without a “significant increase” in the number of now casual staff being converted to “permanent and stable work.”