Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
A task force appointed by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has announced that the “WICB must now build pillars of trust and respect with the players”.
The task force’s comments come after the national team pulled out midway through their tour of India in October due to a payment dispute with the WICB and West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA).
“We are of the view that the fundamental and overriding excuse for the players withdrawing their labour was the attempted imposition of new contractual terms of employment on the players negotiated between the board and WIPA, which the players saw for the first time after they got to India,” the task force said in its report. “There is something fundamentally wrong in sending a team to faraway places with only an historical view of their terms of employment and then to radically change those historical terms after they arrive in that distant place.
“It was the conclusion of the players in India that their compensation would be reduced by some 70%. In our view it is irrelevant whether their calculations were accurate or not.”
The report also noted that it is still unclear whether the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in September is a contract or not.
“Both Michael Muirhead and Dave Cameron, CEO and president, respectively, of the board, took the view that it was an enforceable contract,” the report said. “Wavell Hinds on the other hand was equally firmly of the view that the September MOU was not in and of itself a contract but rather an agreed understanding that would lead to a collective bargaining agreement in much the same way as the prior MOU/CBA [collective bargaining agreement] arrangement had worked.
“It is trite law that if two parties to a negotiation do not agree on the effect of a document coming out of these negotiations, then there is no meeting of the minds and hence no enforceable contract. The board and WIPA were attempting a sea change in the financial arrangements for West Indian professional cricketers without ensuring that there was understanding and acceptance by the WICB’s employees, the touring cricketers.”
However, the task force also pointed out that the players shouldn’t have been so quick to abandon their tour of India.
“Senior players in any overseas squad bear a great responsibility to set standards and create examples for the more junior players to follow,” the report said. “This, the task force felt, the senior players failed to do.”
Among the eight recommendations made by the task force, one of them said: “The players’ contracts must be given to players at least three weeks before a tour. The players must return them at latest, one week before the tour. Failure to return a signed contract will disqualify the player from selection on the team.”
The task force also recommended that the new collective bargaining agreement should contain a clause which says that before the “withdrawal of labour or any industrial action”, the WIPA and players have to give the WICB approximately 14 days notice.
“The WICB should convene bonding sessions twice yearly between players, management and the board to foster harmonious relations,” the report said. “Individual members of the executive committee which normally meets more often than the board should be selected to oversee and solve any personal or cricketing problems revealed by players.”