The National Tertiary Education Union's class action around AWAs against the University of Ballarat has ended with an out-of-court settlement. The action commenced early in 2006 out of a long-running dispute over enterprise bargaining. As Green Left Weekly reported at the time, the university offered AWAs (individual contracts) to break the NTEU's bargaining position. A strong campaign by the union resulted in a collective agreement in August 2006.
The proceeding involved an allegation that the university knowingly misled staff in relation to AWAs. As part of the settlement, the university has agreed that all staff who signed an AWA will be given an opportunity to terminate their AWA and to then move on to a collective agreement.
NTEU branch president Jeremy Smith welcomed the outcome. "The NTEU is glad to be able to put this difficult period behind us and to see people who were employed on AWAs being given the opportunity to move back to coverage by the collective agreement", he told GLW. "We think this creates a more positive environment for negotiating the next enterprise agreement, and ensures that all [Ballarat] university staff have the opportunity to benefit from it."
In a joint press release by the NTEU and the university on February 1, Vice-Chancellor David Battersby said "The University is pleased to have resolved this matter and looks forward to reaching an amicable agreement with the unions and the staff on the upcoming round of enterprise bargaining which is scheduled to commence in the next few weeks."
The university has written to Julia Gillard, the deputy Prime Minister, also minister for education, informing her of the end of the case.