$2.85M Swinburne Wage Theft Sparks Renewed Action Calls

National Tertiary Education Union

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has called for major changes to university governance after Swinburne admitted $2.85 million in wage theft from staff.

Swinburne University staff were underpaid $2.6 million, while employees at the part-privately owned Swinburne College are owed $250,000.

The underpayments, which the university reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman, affect about 1800 staff.

A federal and state ministerial meeting on Friday resolved to work with the NTEU to ensure universities became exemplary employers, with the higher education wage theft tally now exceeding $170 million.

NTEU Swinburne Branch President Dr Julie Kimber said:

"The NTEU raised several issues over Swinburne's payroll practices with the Wage Inspectorate in 2022.

"Despite repeated requests to the University to audit its payroll system, nothing was done.

"We urge the Fair Work Ombudsman to investigate why the University has only just notified this issue despite being aware of the problems for over two years.

"Given this wilful inaction, those responsible must be held to account. A voluntary self-report should not be a get-out-of-jail free card.

"We now have a vice-chancellor who got a $250,000 private ensuite built for her also responsible for multi-million dollar wage theft."

NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said:

"It's infuriating and unacceptable that university staff keep suffering wage theft despite our union highlighting more than $170 million in underpayments across Australia.

"Federal and state governments must pull unaccountable vice-chancellors into line for this shocking behaviour that is leaving workers millions of dollars out of pocket.

"The explosion of insecure work and broken governance system is fuelling the systemic wage theft plaguing public universities."

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