Caribbean players in wait-and-see mode as Netball Australia and Players' Association in pay dispute

By Sports Desk October 11, 2023
(From left) Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling and Samantha Wallace. (From left) Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling and Samantha Wallace.

A number of Caribbean players are now left in wait-and-see mode, as they could be affected by an ongoing pay dispute in the Australian Super Netball League.

Players such as Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler, Romelda Aiken-George, Shamera Sterling, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Samantha Wallace, are among those who will be watching with bated breaths, after Australia Netball Players’ Association rejected the latest offer from Netball Australia and the eight Super Netball League clubs.

Officials from Netball Australia and the clubs expressed disappointment at the ANPA’s dismissal of the offer that they described as a “ground-breaking” collective player agreement.

However, the ANPA in its response said, “the players believe they’ve bent over backwards” in a bid to reach an agreement, and they are now appealing for mediation “to achieve meaningful and fair progress.”

Netball Australia on Monday stated that an offer was made to improve its investment by AUS $1.275 million – a 20 per cent increase across a three-year deal.

Netball Australia explained that offer was on top of “the earning potential of a profit-share partnership model”, and this was without any forecast material increase in the sport’s revenue in the short term, given the current broadcast deal runs until 2026.

Netball Australia added that it offered a base wage increase of nine per cent over three years and a maximum salary cap increase of three per cent over the same term, in addition to increased potential commercial earnings, extra playing and earning opportunities with the introduction of rookies, and a share in the profits generated by the Super Netball League for the first time.

“Throughout negotiations, Netball Australia and the clubs have made significant concessions in good faith to finalise the deal and build a strong partnership model with the ANPA and Super Netball players. Netball Australia and the ANPA met again [this past] Saturday, and we continue to offer to meet to finalise a deal,” a statement from Netball Australia said.

“Netball Australia and the clubs are not opposed to mediation, but we are concerned beginning the process at this late stage would extend this already lengthy process and continue to delay the stability and certainty all parties seek.

“Netball Australia and the eight clubs have simply reached their capacity to make further concessions to the ANPA and players without jeopardising the health of the league and its teams, their respective stakeholders, and the entire netball eco-system in Australia,” the statement continued.

Netball Australia pointed out that any further increase to player wages beyond the current offer would be irresponsible, because they would negatively impact funding for community and grassroots netball.

It reiterated that the three-year deal would provide much-needed stability for the players, clubs and the league and would ensure all parties could focus on working together collectively to grow the sport.

“We appeal to the ANPA to re-consider our revised three-year offer and present it to all Super Netball players, so they can have their say,” the statement ended.

But the players’ association argued that Netball Australia had rejected a real partnership with the players.

“We cannot in good conscience lock players into an unfair three-year deal, which does not reflect their value and contribution,” the players’ association statement asserted.

“Adding to the players’ concern is a lack of clarity around the finances underpinning the game, and uncertainty around the strategic direction for netball.”

The schedule for the 2024 Super Netball League season is yet to be released because of the collective player agreement dispute.

Sterling and compatriot Latanya Wilson are members of The Adelaide Thunderbirds, while Wallace and Aiken-George represents New South Wales Swifts. Fowler is a member of West Coast Fever.

 

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