When a university has requested the termination of its business contract at some point, it must keep in mind that its financial information and financial circumstances are subject to a thorough review. If the evidence shows that the university is in a strong financial position, this fact will be used against it. However, financial prudence should not be ruled out if the right strategies are adopted. The impact of the decision to terminate the Murdoch University Enterprise Agreement; whether there will be a remedy and what the choice will mean for other universities and for the negotiating landscape. Mr Murdoch began negotiations in April 2016 with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) for a new agreement. It attempted to remove or amend a number of clauses that it considered to be obstacles to its ability to improve its financial and operational performance. Between April and November 2016, the parties held 23 negotiating meetings, but both sides had limited freedom of movement on key issues. When negotiations were stalled in December 2016, Murdoch filed a request to file a request to the Fair Work Commission to file a request to denounce the agreement. The NTEU rejected the application.
There are steps a university wants to take to maintain the ability to successfully apply for the termination of its enterprise contract. We will discuss this at our next forum. Without these three elements, we advise that any attempt to terminate an agreement is probably not at stake. In his decision, Commissioner Williams took into account the fact that the negotiations had been extended (there were 27 negotiating meetings over 12 months) and that the parties were essentially blocked, as the university had submitted its best final offer many months earlier. He concluded that the current negotiating environment was not neutral and favoured the NTEU, where it would not agree to amend the relevant clauses of the Murdoch agreement. A denunciation of the agreement would be more likely to tip the balance, but it is not contrary to the public interest to do so, as the NTEU is not prepared to amend the existing clauses. Commissioner Williams of the Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) denounced Murdoch`s agreement effective September 26, 2017. From that date, Murdoch promised the FWC to maintain a number of benefits and terms of the Murdoch agreement for a period of six months. It is essential that agreements such as disciplinary and disciplinary committees and dismissal review boards are not covered by the undertaking and will no longer apply as of 26 September 2017. “All circumstances must also be taken into account when considering the appropriateness of the termination of the contract … Consideration of all the circumstances, including those provided for in Sb26 (b) (ii) and (ii) S 226 (b) and (ii), is an obligation to consider the facts and give them the weight necessary to determine whether a termination of an enterprise agreement should be terminated.  This is the first decision to terminate enterprise agreements in the higher education sector.
It could have an impact on the negotiations currently involving other universities. The decision means that negotiations on a new enterprise agreement can continue and, if a new enterprise agreement is not reached within the next six months, if Murdoch does not decide to expand the business on certain terms, the only industrial instruments applicable to Murdoch University will be the Academic Staff Modern award and the General Staff Modern Award.