Caribbean players remain on edge as Super Netball League pay dispute yet to be settled

By Sports Desk October 21, 2023
(from left) Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling and Samantha Wallace (from left) Jhaniele Fowler, Shamera Sterling and Samantha Wallace file

Netballers from the Caribbean continue to face uncertainty over their immediate future, as the pay dispute in the Super Netball League shows no signs of a quick resolution.

Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken-George, as well as Samantha Wallace of the Trinidad and Tobago, are among players in the League who have not been paid since their current collective bargaining agreement between Netball Australia and the Australian Netball Players' Association (ANPA) ran out on September 30. To make matters worse, they cannot be paid until a new deal is put in place.

According to reports, the dispute is headed to mediation with Netball Australia and ANPA unable to arrive at an amicable settlement over a revenue share model, and several players have had to turn to family and friends for financial support.

"I've heard of players who've had to move home because they can't sign rental agreements or are struggling to pay their mortgages because there is a big stand-off between what Netball Australia want to put forward and what the players and players' association want," former Australia netballer Bianca Chatfield said in a TV interview.

The feud erupted after the ANPA rejected the latest offer from Netball Australia and the eight SNL clubs, which put forward a "profit share partnership", while the players are demanding a "revenue share partnership model".

Netball Australia said 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, as well as a share in the profits generated by the League for the first time.

Officials from Netball Australia and the clubs expressed disappointment at the rejection of the offer, which they have described as "a ground-breaking collective player agreement".

Netball Australia said any further increases to player wages beyond the current offer would be irresponsible because they would negatively impact funding for community and grass roots netball.

ANPA said the players believe they have bent over backwards in a bid to reach an agreement, and they are now appealing for mediation to achieve "meaningful and fair progress".

Australia international defender Maddy Turner said it was a "super stressful" time for all players left in limbo ahead of next season, and she also showed some compassion for non-Australian players.

"When you are relying on that money to pay for rent, groceries, everything… imagine your next pay cheque doesn't come in. You're looking for other ways to earn money. I think it's really disappointing. There's no pay coming in," she said in a TV interview.

Turner said she had turned to the "bank of Mum and Dad" to pay her mortgage, while picking up extra work where she can — but not every player was that fortunate.

"There are a lot of internationals in our league and without that money coming in, it's hard for them to come over here where they can't work a second job," she said. "I think it's probably the most frustrating for them."

ANPA Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Harby-Williams argued the players were not making extraordinary demands.

"Players will never take what the game can't afford," she said in a radio interview. "It's new money we are asking for and simply 20 per cent of sponsorship, and that is all. It ensures players receive a fair share of sponsorship revenue — it's a real partnership model."

The netballers have found support from the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) after their recent fight with Cricket Australia — with the organisation creating a "fighting fund for netballers to draw on during their period of unemployment".

ACA Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg said the netballers' requests were "modest and affordable for the sport", and the players must be given the same partnership opportunities that has seen women's cricket in Australia thrive.

"The ACA stands with the netballers and will do so until this campaign is successful," he said.

Shamera Sterling, Latanya Wilson, Jodi-Ann Ward, Shimona Nelson, and Kadian Dehaney are the other Caribbean players that played in the SNL last season.

 

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