In a week where it’s been battered on all fronts, Cricket South Africa (CSA) is now staring its most crippling potential blow in the face.
The South African Cricketers Association (Saca) on Wednesday announced it has called for a meeting of its executive committee and management board on Friday to discuss a potential players’ strike due to the federation’s continual sidelining of the union and its members.
“At this meeting we will again be discussing the manner in which SACA and the players are being treated by CSA. This discussion is likely to include the possibility of the players taking some form of industrial, or protest, action,” said Tony Irish, Saca’s outgoing chief executive.
“Saca has always considered strike, and other similar forms of industrial action, to be a very last resort and in SACA’s 17 years of dealing with CSA to date not one day of cricket has ever been lost to industrial action.”
The two parties are currently embroiled in a High Court battle over CSA’s plan to restructure domestic cricket from next year, which Saca states in its court documents could cost 70 professional players their livelihoods.
The union also wants full disclosure on CSA’s finances as it believes a projected R654 million loss over the next four years is still being understated.
However, the final straw seems to have been a statement released by the governing body late on Tuesday, where embattled CEO Moroe acknowledged the “need for more dialogue with our stakeholders” without mentioning the players once.
Animosity between Moroe and Irish has been simmering since the end of 2017, when Moroe dithered on finalising a new memorandum of understanding and made his view on the influence of Saca clear.
“The players are our employees and in the corporate world, when you are an employee, you just get an e-mail saying ‘this is the new direction, this is the way it’s going to go’. A trade union doesn’t have a say in our view of how our company should be run and how we engage with trade unions,” he said at the time.
Saca have subsequently been removed from representation on various CSA committees.
To compound matters, Irish also stated that the union has declared a second formal complaint in two months against the federation over the use of player rights in the Mzansi Super League T20 tournament.
“CSA has used, and allowed the use of, the names and images of players in association with a fantasy league game related to MSL without any rights to do so and despite SACA having relaying to CSA that such use is unlawful,” he said.
“Saca has also, and simply as a precaution, requested CSA to obtain clearance from its anti-corruption unit to ensure that this use of players in a pay-to-play game does not in any way constitute an association of the players with gambling.”
Three senior CSA officials were suspended at the end of October for “dereliction of duties” regarding outstanding player image rights payments from last year’s inaugural tournament.
CSA later responded to the latest image rights issue by saying it “continues to engage” Saca on the issue.
“When the matter was raised by last month, I notified the sales agency of Dream11 to cease the use of the player attributes until a resolution was reached on the issue and conveyed this to Saca,” said chief commercial officer Kugandrie Govender.
“I also requested a meeting between ourselves and Saca to discuss what payments are applicable, and to discuss the issue of Dream11 being a betting organisation or not. I attach e-mails sent to Mr Irish for the sake of removing any doubt as to the start of the engagement on this matter.
“It is not our intention to short-change anyone that needs to be compensated, least of all players who are our very own. To this end, I would hope that we can meet as soon as possible with SACA to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.”
- This article was amended to reflect CSA’s response.