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An in depth analysis of the 2017 Australian Cricket Pay Dispute

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Friday, 18 August 2017 By Braham Dabscheck

On 30 June 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a five-year deal, negotiated between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), came to an end. The parties were unable to reach a new agreement; they had spent most of the period since December 2016 accusing each other of negotiating in “bad faith[1]. In the absence of a new MOU, CA locked out (i.e. prevented from working) approximately 230 players whose contracts had expired. There were approximately 90 players who were on multi-year contracts whose employment was maintained.

On 3 August, the parties finally announced the Heads of Agreement of a new MOU.[2] The lockout lasted 33 days. It is the longest industrial dispute in the history of Australian sport. Though in saying this, there has only been one other example of such a dispute since the emergence of permanent player associations in Australia, beginning in the 1970s.[3] That was the refusal of the Matildas, Australia’s women’s national football/soccer team, to tour the USA in 2015 because of late and “inadequate” payments.[4] There is a precursor to this cricket dispute. The ACA formed in 1995 and found it difficult to gain recognition from the then Australian Cricket Board (ACB). A threatened strike in a One Day International in 1997 resulted in the ACB granting recognition and the subsequent negotiation of Australian Cricket’s first MOU in 1998.[5]

This article examines the working out and eventual resolution of this dispute, and considers its broader significance for Australian professional team sports.  Specifically it looks at:

  • The background to the dispute

  • Cricket Australia’s approach to negotiations

  • The response of the Australian Cricketers’ Association

  • The lockout period

  • The final resolution

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Written by

Braham Dabscheck

Braham Dabscheck

Braham Dabscheck is a Senior Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Previously, he taught industrial relations at the University of New South Wales for 33 years until 2006 and established himself as an international expert in the field. Among his extensive publications are almost 80 book chapters and articles on industrial relations, economic and legal aspects of sports in Australia, Europe (including the United Kingdom), Japan, New Zealand, the United States and Zimbabwe.

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