Audit reveals multi-million dollar underpayments of CSU casual staff

National Tertiary Education Union

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has welcomed the news that current and former Charles Sturt University (CSU) casual staff will receive millions of dollars to remediate widespread underpayments, which have been revealed through an independent audit the union called for in 2020.

CSU’s Vice-Chancellor today informed CSU staff that the audit revealed 2,526 staff going back to July 2015 were underpaid. The university’s latest annual report includes a financial provision for close to $6.7 million in underpaid wages and superannuation.

On these figures, NTEU estimates affected current and former staff will receive an average of over $2,500 per person, with many receiving more than $7,500.

NTEU CSU Branch President Dr Helen Masterman-Smith said “This is a life-changing win for casual employees at CSU and elsewhere. It’s part of a string of recent underpayment victories by NTEU members nationwide.

“Underpayment of staff is endemic in this heavily casualised sector because casual staff often fear recriminations if they make individual complaints. Government reform and strong enterprise bargaining outcomes are needed to stamp out these practices.”

Despite the win NTEU members remain concerned that several types of underpayment may not have been detected by the audit.

The sheer scale of unpaid work raises serious questions about the necessity of recent job cuts.

“This whole debacle raises serious questions about the competence of CSU’s leadership and the necessity of recent major job cuts at CSU.”

NTEU NSW Division Secretary Dr Damien Cahill, said “This is a great win for current and former casual staff at CSU. It is the result of lots of hard work by local union reps in raising the issue of wage theft with university management.

“Casualisation is out of control across the university sector. It is used as a cost-minimisation and risk mitigation strategy by university management. But the recent victory at Western Sydney Uni, where the union has won a 25% reduction in casual labour and its conversion into permanent jobs, shows what can be achieved. We will be seeking to achieve similar wins at every university.”

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