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A THORNY ISSUE: WIPA, players at odds

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: WIPA, players at odds

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The West Indies Players Association(WIPA) seems to be at the crossroads. Last week’s stand-off between president Wavell Hinds and senior West Indies player Dwayne Bravo raises the question of trust between Hinds and the players if we are to accept Bravo’s concerns as gospel.

When Bravo asked him to resign, it suggests that they have no confidence in him representing the interests of the players.

What inference can be drawn when the West Indies One-Day captain states that Hinds wears too many hats and that he’s also a member of the same club in Jamaica as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron?

Hinds doesn’t act on his own, he’s  only part of the collective responsibility WIPA carries.

There’s no evidence to indicate that the former West Indies batsman is a dictator or that he took a unilateral decision to negotiate and sign the recent collective bargaining agreement and  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WIPA and the WICB without consulting his fellow board members.

But the buck always stops at the top so this may be the reason why all the blows have been thrown in Hinds’ direction over the players’ dissatisfaction with a hefty chop in their daily sponsorsorship fee among other financial arrangements.

In the first instance, the impression was given at the Accra Beach Hotel a few weeks ago that all stakeholders had embraced and signed off on the collective bargaining agreement and the MOU between the board and the players’ representative.

The turn of events last week suggests otherwise. We could easily think the players were seeing the new proposals for the first time.

We could easily believe they had no input in what the WIPA executive were to negotiate on their behalf.

Actually, the opposite is true given the minutes of the WIPA annual general meeting held on February 1, 2014, and which I was able to obtain a copy of.

In my humble opinion, the only logical question that can be asked is if the players agreed to and signed off on the proposal to decrease the  daily sponsorship fee or if WIPA went ahead and did it with the WICB without a resolution from the players.

At the WIPA AGM, the players were consulted about forfeiting the fee of US$35 000 to help with the professionalisation of regional cricket.

WIPA director Michael Hall asked the players to be an agent of change by giving up the money for the benefit of first-class cricket in the West Indies.

The players agreed it would be beneficial to all first-class players to be awarded retainer contracts.

They felt, however,that a meeting should be held among the senior players to get their views on the subject.

Hinds said one of his considerations was to meet with captains Bravo and Darren Sammy along with senior players Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to discuss the proposal.

Bravo supported the proposal but said certain conditions had to be discussed.

They included a no drop in the pay for the senior team and a salary raise to compensate for the lost of the daily sponsorship fee.

In Bravo’s estimation, he hoped the first-class players understood what WIPA was trying to do and that the players stand as one but he also requested that WIPA speak to the WICB on the issue of relocation for the retained players as well as the pay grade structure being raised.

Given his pointed and well written letters published last week, the impression was given that the players never gave the green light for WIPA to press ahead to negotiate any change to the structure of the daily sponsorship fee for sure.

Can the assumption be made in these circumstances that the players may have been tardy in getting back to WIPA about their own discussions and that the parent body consequently took the decision to take the proposals to the WIBC as discussed at WIPA’s AGM this year without their consent?

Hinds’ response was equally biting and stated emphatically that he wasn’t resigning but what other option will he have if the players are adamant they aren’t comfortable with his stewardship?

Indeed, what other option is available to the players? Another union, perhaps?

Whatever the outcome in the ongoing dispute, it can be stated that WIPA is on very shaky ground at the moment.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced,award-winning sports journalist.