24/11/2020 Wage theft is rife at universities, but do the managers know it? | Overland literary journal or radical overwork, it is common for University management to feign surprise or simply not respond. Perhaps more important than these detailed studies is the actual experience of staff. For casuals and the supervisors who hire them, knowledge of underpayment is standard and regularly acknowledged. To call it an ‘open secret’ wrongly suggests there is something secret about it. It is possible that the University of Sydney is an isolated case – a particularly exploitative employer preying heavily on their precarious staff. However, the fact that a third of universities in Australia have recently admitted to some form of underpayment and seven of the eleven public universities in NSW are currently being audited for wage theft suggests otherwise. Much of this has come to light due to casuals themselves campaigning. At the University of Melbourne, millions of dollars are being repaid after casuals staged a years-long campaign, while at the University of Queensland underpayment has come to light thanks to casuals keeping records of their own work hours. Nonetheless, university managements still avoid acknowledging the endemic nature of this wage theft. A University of Queensland spokesperson read from the same hymn sheet as their University of Sydney counterpart when they stated that the university ‘had not seen a systemic issue with underpayment’. Staff who do the bulk of university work know that wage theft is standard practice. For any senior manager to deny this suggests they are either wilfully ignorant, or they have been so far away from the ground of everyday teaching, research and administration for so long that they don’t know how universities actually work. To support the campaign against wage theft in the higher education sector, please sign the petition. Overland is a not-for-pro t magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Yaegan Doran is a casual researcher and lecturer at The University of Sydney and the Australian Catholic University, and is a member of the University of Sydney Casuals Network. More by Yaegan Doran Comments From A broken casual worker on 10 November 2020 at 1.04 pm The manager’s jobs should be on the line, not everyone else’s. Reply From someone who believes in providing education, not a sham degree on 11 November 2020 at 12.30 pm What the article doesn’t mention is that in juxtaposition to the shamefully low incomes of the casual staff who really are the backbone of the university, the senior management group pay themselves upwards of $1.5 million on salary alone. 50 of USyd’s top paid execs earn over a million dollars a year, no including bonuses and other bene ts. How did it get to this point? How the hell did we end up with these charlatans and philistines leeching such vast fortunes from the university coffers, all the while telling us that we all need to do our bit in these ‘tough times’. These are the same managers that have been systematically destroying the quality of education by increasing class sizes, lowering standards, and most importantly NOT PAYING THE STAFF PROPERLY TO TEACH YOUR KIDS. We must expel management from their lofty positions and return the administrators back to what they’re supposed to be doing: namely, providing https://overland.org.au/2020/11/wage-theft-is-rife-at-universities-but-do-the-managers-know-it/ 2/3

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