Following from a process put in place in September last year to discuss the issue of player appearance fees for the 2014 International Cricket Council World Twenty20 tournament, Zimbabwe Cricket had a meeting with the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association (ZPCA), Eliah Zvimba, on the 14th of February this year,
The meeting ended in deadlock and it was resolved to take the matter to arbitration, in accordance with discussions which had seen the meeting of the 15th of January 2014 agreeing that the arbitration process was to be guided by ZC Past President and now Honorary Life President Alwyn Pichanick.
Subsequently, ZC, in consultation with Mr Pichanick, had identified former ZC managing director and now Honorary Life Vice-President Don Arnott as arbitrator.
The Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) offer in summary was that each player participating in the first two rounds of the ICC WT20 tournament effectively earns 11 500 dollars and the 15-man squad share 125 thousand dollars, meaning a personal amount of 8 333 dollars which amounts to 19 833, while not taking into account winning bonuses which could be 2 700 dollars per player per second round match won.
Because the players’ current contracts with ZC end in August this year, the players will also be receiving their normal monthly salaries as per those contracts while they are at the 2014 ICC WT20 tournament.
ZC said it made the offer against the background that revenue from ICC events is meant to sustain ZC from one four-year cycle to the next.
ZC also pointed out that following the deadlock during the February 14 negotiations, the matter should go for arbitration, as previously agreed.
In response, the ZPCA rejected arbitration.
They accepted what ZC had offered them, but only on condition that ZC agreed to putting 25 percent of the distribution amount due to it from the ICC for the tournament, that is 2,225 million dollars, into a pool to pay the players next season at ZPCA’s discretion.
The ZPCA said the pool would guarantee player payments and so avoiding the situation which occurred late last year of delayed salaries and match fees and enable ZC and the ZPCA to agree in due course on the appropriate number of contracts for next season.
ZC expressed disappointment with the ZPCA’s turning back on its earlier agreement to go for arbitration.
ZC pointed out that Zimbabwe’s participation at the ICC WT20 tournament was in terms of the current contracts between the ZC and the players and that with ZC having paid the players all that it owed them, if their action led to ZC breaching its obligation with the ICC to play in the tournament, the players would be liable for the breach and ZC would claim from them any damages occasioned by their conduct.
ZC also said that it did not see the rationale of the ZPCA agreement being subjected to the condition that ZC should agree to proposals for future contracts as these were separate issues.
ZC recommended that there be a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for ZC to conclude, by end of May 2014, negotiations with the players for next season’s contracts.
The MOU would also capture the current demands by the players and the fact that ZC needed to study the demands in the context of its anticipated income.
ZC also pledged its commitment to continue negotiations in good faith but expressed disappointment that despite several requests followed by promises from the ZPCA to submit its full official register of members, the organisation had not done so.
This evening the ZPCA wrote to ZC rejecting its earlier acceptance of the ZC offer. It said that subsequently the players have gone on collective job action with immediate effect.
But even after declaring that move, the ZPCA invited ZC to a meeting in Bulawayo at 0830 hours on Monday. Efforts by ZC to move that meeting to the ZC head office in Harare where cricket documentation is kept where unsuccessful.