Pay rise for Australia's female cricketers amid wider issues

The total payment pool for Australia’s female cricketers increased by $ 1.9 million © Associated Press

Australia’s female cricketers have earned a $1.9 million pay rise from Cricket Australia, but wider issues of representation, working conditions and the fraught relationship between CA and the players union are set to bubble away for some time yet.

Despite announcing a total women’s player-payment rise from AU$2.36 million to AU$4.23 million annually on Wednesday, CA was criticised by the Australian Cricketers Association for declining the offer of a further $1.45 million from the players, conditional on the signing of a separate MoU for women.

The national team, state contracted players and WBBL players are paid directly by CA and lack the bargaining umbrella of a rolling MoU, something the men have benefited from since they won the right to negotiate collectively in 1997. There are frustrations on both sides, with the players association eager to enshrine the rights of women cricketers, but at the same time, CA argue the women should be paid out of the growing men’s payment pool.

CA have compromised as far as allowing various conditions to be catered for under the new deal, including mandatory business class international travel for the women’s national team, an updated pregnancy policy, restrictions on weekday hours of domestic-team training for players working or studying, and reduced commercial restrictions for WNCL and WBBL players in relation to major sponsors.

However, the ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson made it clear that the deal fell a long way short of what he had hoped for, with those conditions and others yet to be secured through a MoU. “The ACA has been agitating for some time for improvements to the female environment,” he said. “Although that process has fallen short of where we consider it needs to be, it has resulted in the positive changes announced today.

“However, we do not believe the terms and conditions go far enough and we presented a proposal to Cricket Australia that would provide a comprehensive working environment for the players, including improved payments and the provision for off-field support which is vital as the players enter into a more professional era.

“That involved a significant $1.45 million contribution from the male players to an overall female player payment pool. That offer has been open for negotiation but, based on today’s announcement, that has clearly been rejected. That is extremely unfortunate, but we will now look at other measures to invest in support of women’s cricket.”

CA claim that the offer of an extra $1.45 million was only offered late in the process, after the $4.23 million figure had been settled. The board had previously asked for the men to take into account the fact that their own payment pool had grown far more than expected when their own MoU was last negotiated. The ACA have tipped in $500,000 over two years to cover private health insurance costs.

Considerable back-grounding and arguing through various media stories over the past 12 months does not augur well for the renewal of the men’s MOU, talks for which are due to begin later this year.

The relationship between CA and the ACA is not what it was, due in part to numerous personnel changes. Longtime chief executive Paul Marsh departed the players association in 2014 to be replaced by Nicholson, and the new man does not enjoy the same open line of communication to the CA chief executive James Sutherland that his predecessor had.

Instead, Nicholson and the ACA operations manager Graham Manou deal primarily with the team performance manager Pat Howard, and the two parties have butted heads frequently in recent times. Nevertheless, it was Sutherland who spoke publicly about the announcement of the new pay deal.

“We are determined to make cricket the sport of choice for women in Australia,” he said. “We have worked constructively with the Australian Cricketers’ Association to reach this point and will continue to do so in our ongoing efforts to improve wages and workplace conditions for all elite female cricketers.”

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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