While there are some differences over the union`s industrial tactics, there is no indication that Sydney or any other university will follow Murdoch`s example. A spokeswoman for the University of Sydney confirmed that the option to terminate was not being considered. Reid, who represented Murdoch University, said most employers probably don`t want to take the drastic step of terminating a company agreement. It rejects the unions` claims that the case undermined the companies` negotiations. As head of MinterEllison`s workplace team in Perth, I advise the full range of labour relations, with a particular focus on strategic issues, industrial negotiations and safety. My clients include sectors such as infrastructure and construction, resources, media, government, higher education and healthcare. In Murdoch`s case, she says, the outdated company deal has prevented her from achieving a bright future. « The judgment recognized that with an outdated corporate deal, Murdoch will not be able to realize his new strategy and do all the great things he wants to do. » Labour says bargaining power has shifted in favour of bosses and wants to change fair work laws to limit employers` ability to terminate deals. In his decision, Commissioner Williams took into account the fact that the negotiations were long (there were 27 negotiation meetings over 12 months) and that the parties were essentially blocked, with the university having presented its best/final offer many months before. He concluded that the current context of the negotiations was not neutral and that the NTEU was favourable, where it would not agree to modify the corresponding clauses of the Murdoch Agreement. Denunciation of the agreement would tip the balance in Murdoch`s favour, but it is not contrary to the public interest to do so, as the NTEU is unwilling to amend existing clauses. Murdoch began negotiating a new deal with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in April 2016. It sought to remove or amend a number of clauses which, depending on its position, inhibited its ability to improve its financial and operational performance.
The parties held 23 negotiating meetings between April and November 2016, but both sides experienced limited movement on key issues. When negotiations began in December 2016, Murdoch filed a request to terminate the agreement with the Fair Work Commission. The NTEU rejected the application. This is the first decision to end company agreements in higher education. It has potential implications for negotiations that other universities are currently underway. « So I was deeply disappointed to see that the NTEU criticised the university on its most important day of the year to show prospective students all the benefits of a university education in Sydney, » says Professor Riley, an expert in labour relations law. Mr Williams, a member of the Fair Work Commission (FWC), denounced Murdoch`s agreement with effect from 26 September 2017. From that date, Murdoch made a commitment to FWC to maintain a number of benefits and terms of the Murdoch Agreement for a period of six months. It is essential that agreement provisions such as disciplinary and disciplinary commissions and dismissal review committees are not part of the company and no longer apply from 26 September 2017.