Casual workers at two major zoos in New South Wales, Australia, are owed millions of dollars in back pay due to a payroll system error. Taronga Zoo discovered underpayments amounting to $2.6 million for 902 current and former casual staff members across its Sydney and Dubbo zoos. The issue arose from a new payroll system implemented in February 2021, and an investigation is also being conducted into the previous system used over the past six years. Taronga’s CEO, Cameron Kerr, expressed apologies to the affected staff and announced that back pay, including interest and superannuation, would commence in July.
The Australian Workers Union (AWU), which had demanded an audit following a strike in Dubbo, claimed credit for identifying the error. The union’s NSW branch secretary, Tony Callinan, stated that the concerns raised by members had led to improvements in the payroll system. Taronga Zoo responded by asserting that the issues raised by the union were unrelated to the underpayment error and were configuration problems with the new system. The resolution of this issue highlights the importance of accurate payroll systems and the significance of workers’ rights in the gig economy.
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