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Higher education should be a public good, not a profit source — 5 August 2020

Hannah Buchan, President
Charlie Joyce and Noni Bridger, Education Public Office Bearers

UMSU was very pleased to hear that our University of Melbourne has finally agreed to pay back staff for millions of dollars owed from years of wage theft.

This was a result of years of organising work undertaken by staff in the NTEU, including last year’s occupation of the Dean of Arts’ office which we were proud to support.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Wage theft is systemic at Unimelb, and across the university sector. It is a business model. Additionally, more than 70% of staff at Unimelb are employed on casual contracts. This is unacceptable.

When staff are underpaid, casualised and mistreated, students have a worse experience. Staff working conditions are student learning conditions.

It shouldn’t have taken years of campaigning, occupations, protests and finally criminalisation by the state government for Unimelb to take wage theft seriously. Chancellery must come clean and open the books and show that they are not continuing to engage in wage theft. We support the NTEU’s recent demands for financial transparency.

Higher education should be a public good, not a profit source. UMSU will continue to stand up in solidarity with staff until this is the case.