The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) analysed 34 cases of wage theft at 22 Australian institutions to understand how much some staff have been underpaid. It found a total of $83.4 million had been stolen from staff at Australian universities in all states and territories except the ACT. Ongoing underpayment claims at three universities in NSW and Victoria were not included in the report, though the NTEU expects these claims would take the total figure above $90 million.
The biggest underpayments:
The report found the biggest underpayments were at the University of Melbourne ($31.6 million), University of Sydney ($12.8 million), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology ($10 million), Monash University ($8.6 million), and Newcastle University ($6.3 million).
Earlier this month, the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced Federal Court proceedings against the University of Melbourne, which was found in the report to have underpaid its staff the most. It alleged they had underpaid 14 staff members over $154,000 between 2017 and 2019. It comes after a $22 million back payment to University of Melbourne current and former staff members began last year, after a review of over 3.2 million payslips found that staff weren’t being given their proper entitlements.
Education Minister Jason Clare said yesterday the Federal Government is “committed” to introducing legislation by the end of the year that will “criminalise wage theft”. The Government’s higher education agency has been in contact with 22 universities in relation to staff underpayments since August 2020. When asked by TDA, they didn’t confirm if these were the same 22 universities analysed in the report.