Cricket Australia chairman slams ACA's handling of pay dispute

Hitting back: David Peever.
Hitting back: David Peever.

Cricket Australia chairman David Peever has opened up about the gaping chasm that exists between the body he heads and the Australian Cricketers' Association over the bitter pay dispute that threatens the future of the game.

Peever, who has until now kept publicly quiet on the pay stoush, did not hold back in a column that has been published on cricket.com.au, accusing the ACA of "reckless" strategy.

He described CA's pay offer to its players as "very generous" and expressed his extreme disappointment in the way that not only CA had been depicted in some quarters but also the way the ACA had conducted itself during the protracted negotiations.

"Australia's elite cricketers have indicated that they want to be partners in the game. That's fair enough, but unfortunately their union is not behaving that way," Peever wrote.

"CA has put what in any normal circumstances would be regarded as a very generous offer on the table. It includes healthy pay increases for all male players, a more than 150 per cent increase in pay for all female players and gender equity in both pay and conditions, a share of any surplus for all players and major increases in other support and benefits.

"The ACA has responded by not only rejecting that proposal (and recent concessions) out of hand, but by launching a campaign of such sustained ferocity that anyone could be forgiven for thinking CA was proposing the reintroduction of slavery rather than healthy pay rises.

"But not content with that level of overreaction, the ACA has gone much further, refusing to allow players to tour, threatening to drive away commercial sponsors and damage the prospects of broadcast partners, lock up player IP (intellectual property) into its own business ventures and even stage its own games.

"It's a reckless strategy that can only damage the game and therefore the interests of the ACA's own members."

Under CA's proposal to do away with the fixed revenue percentage model which has featured in memorandums of understanding in the past two decades, they insist they will be able to invest more into grassroots cricket.

But the ACA are opposed to that because they don't believe it would adequately protect the interests of domestic and women cricketers.

"CA and the state and territory associations are responsible for the health of the entire game, not just the elite level where more than 70 per cent of the game's total revenue is currently directed," he wrote.

"We also have a responsibility to ensure that a fair share of the game's resources is directed to other levels, including junior and grassroots cricket where it is most sorely needed."

Peever, a former managing director of Rio Tinto, strenuously denied the claim that cricket was now an industrial relations battleground akin to that of the mining industry when he was involved.

"The suggestion that CA's push to modify the player payments model has nothing to do with genuine issues facing the game is an insult to everyone involved at CA, including other members of the board," he wrote.

Peever insisted he respected the ACA despite being a proponent of industrial relations reform in the past.

"Any claims that I hold contrary views are untrue," Peever wrote.

"Those repeating the myth point to a speech I made years ago in a completely different context. In that speech my message was that businesses should be able to engage directly with employees and that unions should be able do their job in representing the best interests of their members without attempting to expand their mission into the realm of management.

"It's an uncontroversial view shared by all reasonable people. In most situations, employees actually demand direct engagement, not the other way around."

Peever said he respected the role of the ACA and unions in general to negotiate on behalf of members.

"The suggestion that CA's push to modify the player payments model has nothing to do with genuine issues facing the game is an insult to everyone involved at CA, including other members of the board.

"Even worse, it disrespects all those from across the cricket community who have flooded CA and me personally with messages of support because they see first-hand the chronic underfunding of the game at the grassroots level."

Fairfax Media