CA chairman Peever's attack doesn't derail talks
Talks to end the pay war between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) have continued despite an inflammatory intervention of CA chairman David Peever.
Progress between the two parties, led by the chief executives James Sutherland and Alistair Nicholson, was seemingly put at risk by a Peever column in the Australian in which he attacked the ACA and repudiated reports questioning his motives.
But ESPNcricinfo has confirmed that Sutherland, Nicholson and their respective negotiating teams did not break off from their efforts to end an impasse now damaging both sides of the dispute.
It was against the backdrop of renewed talks that Peever underlined just how deep the divide between the two parties is.
In his column - the first time his views have been made public - Peever defended what he felt was "a very generous offer" made to the players and hit out at the way in which CA has been depicted in recent weeks.
"It includes healthy pay increases for male players," he wrote, "A more than 150 per cent increase in pay for female players and gender equity in both pay and conditions, along with a share of any surplus for all players and major increases in other support and benefits.
"The ACA has responded by not only rejecting that proposal (and recent concessions) out of hand, but by launching a campaign of such sustained ferocity that anyone could be forgiven for thinking CA was proposing the reintroduction of slavery.
"Not content with that level of overreaction, the ACA has gone much further, refusing to allow players to tour, threatening to drive away commercial sponsors and damage the prospects of broadcast partners, lock up player intellectual property into its own business ventures, and even stage its own games. It's a reckless strategy that can only damage the game and therefore the interests of the ACA's members."
Peever's words reaffirm the strength of feeling between the sides but they appear on the back of a meeting between James Sutherland and Alistair Nicholson, the chief executives of CA and ACA respectively, which also signals the urgency with which both sides want to resolve the dispute.
CA wants to break up the fixed revenue percentage model that has been a part of all MoUs between board and players since 1998. The board argues this will allow it to spend more money at grassroots level. The ACA want to keep the existing model because, they feel, it protects the interest of domestic and women cricketers.
"CA and the state and territory associations are responsible for the health of the entire game, not just the elite level where more than 70 per cent of the game's total revenue is presently directed," Peever wrote. "We also have a responsibility to ensure that a fair share of the game's resources is directed to other levels, including junior and grassroots cricket, where it is most sorely needed."
Peever strongly denied that "CA has been motivated by some extreme industrial relations agenda, supposedly imported from the mining industry" - in which he has previously worked.
"It has been fabricated by those seeking to portray cricket as an industrial relations battleground, and pushed out to undermine CA's case for modest but necessary changes to the player payment model.
"The suggestion that CA's push to modify the player payments model has nothing to do with genuine issues facing the game is an insult to everyone involved at CA, including other members of the board."
Peever is known to be an advocate of industrial relations reform and is often remembered for a blunt speech about the employee-employer relationship while he was managing director at Rio Tinto. He stressed, however, that he did not have any ill will towards the players body.
"Any claims that I hold contrary views are untrue. Those repeating the myth point to a speech I made years ago in a completely different context. In that speech my message was that businesses should be able to engage directly with employees and that unions should be able do their job in representing the best interests of their members without attempting to expand their mission into the realm of management. It's an uncontroversial view shared by all reasonable people. In most situations, employees actually demand direct engagement, not the other way around."