Many South African cricketers could be out of contract in less than two weeks because of delays by Cricket South Africa in starting negotiations on wages and conditions, says the players’ association.
Tony Irish, the chief executive of the South African Cricketers’ Association, has criticised the CSA for claiming there had been negotiations on the memorandum of understanding (MOU), which is due to be signed and sealed by 30 April.
‘The suggestion that there have actually been negotiations conducted by SACA officials with CSA on the MOU to date is not correct. Negotiations on the key elements have yet to start,’ he said.
‘We are both surprised and disappointed that CSA has seen fit to make a public statement announcing plans relating to the MOU without giving us any proper opportunity to respond to, or to deal with, these first. The suggested plans have caused consternation among players and they require a response from SACA.
‘The indication of further possible delays and the unworkability of certain aspects of what is being suggested are particular matters of concern to us.’
CSA put out a statement on 18 April, saying, ‘In the event of negotiations concerning the new MOU not being completed by 30 April, CSA has indicated its willingness to extend the existing contracts.’
But said Irish, that further complicates matters: ‘This has caused confusion because it doesn’t cater for what is actually happening on the ground for many players. Some players have already been told that they will no longer be contracted, some will be moving between national and franchise contracts, some will be moving between franchises and some will be first-time franchise players. Extensions of contracts are simply unworkable for all of these players.’
The MOU is a comprehensive collective agreement concluded on a four-year basis between CSA, Saca and cricket franchises which regulates the contracts of national and franchise players.
‘But key elements of the MOU [which include the financial model underpinning player contracts and benefits] need to be agreed between CSA and Saca prior to player contracts being finalised,’ said Irish.
‘Saca has been doing everything possible from its side for approximately three months to engage with CSA on the MOU and to deal with the key elements to enable player contracts to be finalised well in advance of 30 April 2018, being the date on which the majority of player contracts end.
‘In the past, the key elements have always been agreed by the end of February at the latest to ensure a proper player contracting process can take place well in advance of expiry dates. Unfortunately, our attempts to date have been met with very little response from CSA and much of our correspondence has gone unanswered.
‘We have now reached a point where many of our players could be out of contract in less than two weeks.
‘The delays have created an environment of uncertainty for players, and also for franchises who wish to secure their players. This comes at a time when South African cricket needs to do whatever it can to retain its players in the face of competing opportunities afforded to players in the emerging T20 leagues market and also in the UK.’
Irish added: ‘Should an interim arrangement be necessary because finalisation of all the key elements can’t now be done by 30 April, then we believe that this needs to be agreed with Saca, before any further media statements are made.’