Port of Spain, Trinidad – Following is a statement from the WICB relating to the just commenced negotiations with WIPA.
The West Indies Cricket Board is immensely pleased with the commencement of negotiations with WIPA for a revised MOU/CBA. In recent years there has been much distrust and acrimony between the board and WIPA.
West Indies cricket has had to endure player strikes and threat of strikes with such intensity over the last few years that the public has questioned the capacity of the two bodies to work productively together. Whilst the disputes have continued and even escalated, the performance and state of the West Indies team has deteriorated. Such a state of affairs cannot offer hope for the betterment of West Indies cricket and all stakeholders have called for the two bodies to work in the best interests of West Indies cricket. The affairs of West Indies cricket cannot continue to be conducted in a setting where cricket is always held hostage to the threat of player strikes or where negotiations or discussions always descend into a war of attrition. A successful and productive relationship is based on a spirit of compromise and conciliation.
The WICB commits itself to a spirit of compromise and conciliation.
Therefore, it is the WICB’s firm view that:
(i) the relationship between WICB and WIPA must be characterized by mutual respect, co-operation and commitment to West Indies cricket; and
(ii) that relationship must be guided by a framework which is relevant and responsive to the present international cricket landscape, recognizes the roles of the respective bodies, and provides fair and balanced provisions for all stakeholders.
It is the reason for these negotiations taking place – to ensure that there is a framework that meets the demands of the fast changing cricket landscape. We cannot remain trapped in the past. It is the reason why the board of the WICB has mandated a transformation in the manner in which the business of the board is conducted.
There must be changes at all levels to ensure that we can establish a cricketing infrastructure that can facilitate the restoration of the glory of West Indies cricket. Similarly, we expect in our relationship to deal with a body that is accountable, transparent and reflective of the views of its membership. The WICB expects to utilize best practices as evidenced in other similar relationships elsewhere in the world, we expect a professional exercise of respect for rules and procedures, and we expect that a spirit of partnership will prevail. WICB is committed to good faith collective bargaining negotiations and has appointed a core negotiating team comprising its CEO, Legal Counsel, and an external Industrial Relations Consultant.
The WICB welcomes the inclusion of new faces and fresh perspectives on the WIPA team with the involvement of Messrs Hall and Kissoon, but it must be noted that the gentlemen in question are Directors of WIPA and cannot properly be considered independent and impartial parties to the process.
WICB is prepared to engage the best expertise available in the region to assist both parties to ensure the successful completion of negotiations. The WICB firmly believes that, with good faith exhibited, the negotiations can indeed be completed within two months, i.e. by September 30, 2011. The WICB recognizes that player interests must be represented at all times. This is an uncompromising position and WICB will always encourage and support players’ efforts to have the best services available to them as they strive to achieve the highest levels of performance. It is for this reason that the board has employed a Player Relations Officer to assist players to understand issues relating to anti-corruption, anti-doping, professional development, sports law and player contracts, commercial obligations, fitness and injury management, and other relevant performance related issues. The WICB has not proposed at any time to repudiate the status of WIPA as the collective bargaining representative for all West Indies Players. WICB reiterates its position that the MOU/CBA arrangements between its Players and their Collective Bargaining Representative ought to be viewed in the context of an industrial relations platform between the Employer (WICB) on one hand and its Employees’ Representative (WIPA) on the other. There is a stark difference between the status of an independent contractor and an employee and it is perhaps true to say that, for the purposes of any collective bargaining agreement between WICB and WIPA, the players are deemed to be employees of the board.
The WICB has no intention of unilaterally changing or repudiating any agreement between the parties, but certainly does not accept that the MOU and CBA negotiated in 2005 were intended to remain unchanged in perpetuity. At no time has the WICB sought to unilaterally end the agreements.
However, the advice received by the board has been that there is a limit to the length of time the agreements may be deemed to continue in full force. This position is in accordance with the stipulations enshrined in the agreements themselves.
The WICB, most recently, in March 2011 wrote to WIPA expressing its views on the existing CBA/MOU and proposing certain revisions to the documents, suggesting that the parties immediately commence negotiations on those revisions, so as to have the maximum possible time for the discussions. It is unfortunate that the WICB’s proposal was not accepted. It is therefore WICB’s view that on September 30, 2011 the existing arrangements will expire, unless an agreement can be reached before such date. WICB advised WIPA to that effect, but also clearly stated that if agreement is reached by September 30 2011, such agreement would apply.
It is against this background that the WICB is approaching the present negotiations with the imperative that there must be agreement on a new arrangement before the expiry of the current one and is focusing all resources on achieving such agreement. It is instructive also that, under the governing Trinidad and Tobago labour legislation, namely the Industrial Relations Act Ch. 88:01, a collective agreement may be in force for a term not exceeding five (5) years. The WICB also believes there is merit in ensuring that the existing labour laws of Trinidad and Tobago apply fully in determining any issues that may arise out of the new MOU/CBA arrangements between the parties and, although headquartered in Antigua, is prepared to consider this option.
The WICB recognises its responsibility to all stakeholders of the game, especially to the players, and would not welcome a situation where there is uncertainty or continuous discord with the players. The WICB view is that a collective agreement should afford clarity and promote stability rather than be used as a tool for prompting disputes and promoting conflict.
The WICB has noted the view expressed by WIPA that WICB intends to vary the Provident Fund and wish to assure all the beneficiaries of the Fund, which includes Secretariat Staff, that this is totally untrue and appeals to WIPA that it serves no useful purpose to peddle such untruths particularly at such a delicate period. It is true, however, that the WICB believes that it is not in the interest of all players to continue with the present system where about 82% of all players’ payments go to international players. This leaves regional players struggling to make a sustainable living and career from cricket.
In the Chairman’s Report for the Year ending September 2010, it was noted that Player Earnings (including retainers) totaled US$8,000,000 or approximately 33% of the total revenue for 2010 (prior year 2009 US$10,000,000 or 21% of total revenue). International player earnings totaled US$6,500,000 or 82% of the total player earnings (prior year US$ 8,000,000 or 80% of total player earnings).
The WICB intends to propose a system where more money will be available to regional players. The WICB is also of the view that players should be compensated for performance and will advocate for a system in which players are motivated to perform. The WICB believes that such player compensation formula must be located in a broader context where resources can be guaranteed for cricket development in the communities, schools and clubs thereby securing the future of West Indies cricket.
The West Indies Cricket Board is the governing body for the administration of cricket in the region and is recognized by the ICC as that body. Cricket belongs to all the people of the region. The WICB will not shirk from its responsibility to oversee cricket but accepts that the modern landscape demands particular attention to the views of all stakeholders – players, fans, sponsors, media, governments, broadcasters, local and regional administrators, umpires, curators, scorers, and the international cricket community.
All stakeholders must be heard and attended to in a fair and balanced manner. Most importantly, West Indies cricket must be managed to ensure that its success is secured and that the West Indies brand will be once again the most sought after in the cricketing world and the performance of our teams will forever be our greatest source of pride and joy.