ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Last September, the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players’ Association agreed on a new Memorandum of Understanding and Collective Bargaining Agreement with the overall aim of professionalising the game in the Caribbean.
An important part of the new MOU and CBA included creating clear, long-term, stable arrangements for player compensation at all levels.
Unfortunately, there seemed to have been confusion, particularly among players, as to the specifics of what had been agreed and how the new compensation structure would operate, and this was recognised as a major contributory factor to the premature termination of the West Indies Tour to India last October.
During May, the WICB and WIPA participated by mutual consent in a formal mediation process over a period of five days to consider the question of what level of sponsorship funds received by the WICB should international players receive and how that amount should be distributed.
In addition to resolving this issue, the WICB and WIPA were able to reach a greater and more consistent understanding of the MOU and CBA by clarifying the underlying agreed principles of player payments for a period of four years.
A clear and unambiguous schedule of all types of anticipated player payments during this period has been drawn up and minor amendments to the MOU and CBA (including the standard player contract) to provide for such compensation has been made.
This solution, including the player payment schedule, was also shared and discussed with the players on the weekend of May 23 and 24 in Barbados, prior to the start of the Australia Tour of the West Indies, so that the risk of any future dispute is minimised to the greatest extent possible.
Chief Executive Officer of the WICB Michael Muirhead said: “We’re all happy to have reached this outcome. It brings greater stability to our relationship with the players and that’s something that we all want and we’re thrilled that we have been able to achieve it.
“There was a tremendous amount of respect and a great degree of compromise forged by a desire and a willingness to bring about resolution through mediation. Once both sides understood that we were both looking for the best for West Indies cricket, we got things worked out.”
President and Chief Executive Officer of WIPA Wavell Hinds said: “The mediation process went very well and this represents the best payment scheme for all players in the present reality of West Indies cricket.”
The outcome was achieved with the assistance of an independent panel that included representatives of the International Cricket Council, the World governing body for the sport, and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, the global organization that coordinates the activities of all the players’ associations that represent professional cricketers.
It was jointly agreed that the mediation panel would be chaired by Brian Young, a retired senior partner of Pricewaterhouse Coopers Jamaica, who currently serves on the board of directors of a number of Caribbean firms.
The other members of the panel were Iain Higgins, general counsel of the International Cricket Council, appointed by the WICB, and Ian Smith, a sports governance consultant, appointed by WIPA.
In a joint statement, the mediation panel said: “The parties have approached the mediation with goodwill, civility and strongly focussed on reaching a solution that is good for West Indies cricket, sustainable within the projected finances of the WICB, reflecting the fact that the players are valuable and key stakeholders and perform activities over and above their playing duties that are of value to the WICB, and remaining consistent with the principles espoused by the 2014 MOU and CBA (signed on September 19, 2014) that served to create, for the first time, a level of structured professional cricket in the Caribbean below international cricket.”
Muirhead, in-house legal counsel Alanna Medford and external legal counsel Luke Hamel-Smith represented the WICB during the mediation, at which Hinds, secretary Wayne Lewis, former chief executive officer Michael Hall and industrial relations consultant Granville Valentine attended on behalf of the players’ association.