The Guardian • Issue #2057

Union action reveals $2.6 million in underpayments

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2057

“Trade unions are … critical for workers under capitalism”

(CPA Political Resolution, 2022)

Industrial action by Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) members at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has led to the discovery of $2.6 million in underpayments to casual workers at the iconic tourist destination. Taronga Western Plains Zoo agreed to an audit of their payroll systems by KPMG (a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services) after AWU workers downed tools late last year over ongoing pay problems.

For 18 months maintenance workers at the tourist attraction endured underpayments, late payments and consistent problems with their leave entitlements and allowances.

Tony Callinan, AWU NSW State Secretary, said members on site were right to stand up to the Zoo’s management.

“It’s a bit rich for Taronga to come out today and claim to be self-reporting an underpayment when the payroll audit would have never happened if not for AWU members’ taking action in November 2022,” says Callinan.

“Taronga Western Plains refused for months to accept there was a problem with their payroll system and it was only after AWU members held a stop work meeting at Dubbo that they agreed to meet with us.

“On the 5th December 2022 in a meeting with an AWU Organiser and Delegates in Dubbo Taronga reluctantly agreed to engage an external auditor which has identified $2.6 million of underpayments to casual workers.

“The AWU members at Taronga Western Plains should be immensely proud, they stuck together and took action, they fixed their own issues and six months later have put $2.6 million in the pockets of their casual colleagues,” says Callinan.

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)

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