A LA TROBE union group has cited allegations of wage theft at the university in a submission to the federal government.
The La Trobe Casuals Network lodged the submission to the senate's Select Committee on Job Security.
Convener Anastasia Kanjere said the organisation drew on first-hand experiences and a survey of 150 workers.
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"There were a lot of comments about people being harassed on weekends to work, to take on responsibilities they were not being paid for, and constantly being under pressure to spend less time marking even if the students need more," Dr Kanjere said.
"The other thing the responses have indicated is that COVID-19 has just made the situation worse."
Dr Kanjere said the organisation provided recommendations in their submission, including abolishing piece rates - the designated amount tutors were paid to mark each student, each semester.
"The university also needs to conduct a review into the classification of 'other academic activity'," she said.
"Things like meetings and less intensive activities should be paid at a fair rate. The underpayment is rife across the university."
A La Trobe spokesperson said the university was not aware of systemic wage theft at the institution.
"Underpayment of casual workers is a concerning issue that has been identified in several industries, including the university sector," the spokesperson said.
"Although La Trobe has not been made aware of systemic underpayment issues relating to our staff, in December we launched a project to review our payment practices and identify if, and where, we may have issues that require review.
"That project is still underway and it is too soon to report on progress. We encourage any staff with concerns about their pay to contact the human resources team at any time."
Dr Kanjere said that review was not transparent and the Casuals Network was concerned staff who spoke up would be targeted.
She said she hoped the submission would not only improve the situation for La Trobe staff but others working in higher education.
"This is not limited to La Trobe," Dr Kanjere said. "It's not a 'bad apple' situation. This is a systemic exploitation issue, which has arisen over decades.
"Fixing it is going to require a profound reformatting of the way universities work.
"Anyone who is telling you they can quickly fix wage theft is lying. Wage theft is still occurring at the University of Melbourne even after the huge payout.
"My job is to take it to La Trobe on behalf of our members but I'm conscious that La Trobe is not the only or worse offender."
Submissions for the Select Committee on Job Security will close on March 31 this year. A report is due to be brought to parliament on November 25, 2021.
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