WIPA responds to Hilaire's 'appalling conduct' in Sarwan Ruling
Wed, Sep 12, '12
WIPA press release:
The West Indies Players Association is shocked by the recent statement made by the WICB CEO Ernest Hilaire concerning the Ramnaresh Sarwan Arbitration ruling and award made by renowned Senior Counsel and now President of the Law Association, Mr. Seenath Jairam S.C. It is understood from reading media reports that Hilaire blamed the CBA and MOU as the reasons for the Arbitrators ruling. If anything the agreements has protected the players from the WICB's continuous abuse of power and the rights of the players.
In the ruling the uncontested evidence submitted that Hilaire hung up the phone on Sarwan and then followed with a threat, telling him that he will inform the selectors to act accordingly.
The deafening silence by the WICB, including its congratulatory President Julian Hunte who himself is a former union leader and chairman of the St. Lucia Labour Party who has also served as opposition leader for over 25 years and regards himself as a champion of people’s rights, is most disappointing.
With respect to the breaches of the agreements, the Arbitrator found the WICB guilty of breaching all of the articles as complained by Mr. Sarwan and WIPA in the agreements. Specifically, submitted facts and findings were:
1) The WICB CEO complained to Mr. Sarwan about his fitness and attitude in a letter dated January 11th 2010. The uncontested evidence established that Mr. Sarwan picked up the phone to discuss with Hilaire the contents of the letter and requested more information. However, as soon as Sarwan called Dr. Hilaire to seek more clarification, the first thing that Dr. Hilaire replied to him was to ask him who he thought he was. Sarwan then explained to the CEO that the purpose of his call was to ascertain more information regarding the concerns since it was the first time he was hearing of such concerns. Hilaire then replied that the report had come from ‘Papi’, the trainer on the Australian tour. However, Sarwan then told Hilaire that this was very surprising indeed as he had spoke to ‘Papi’ at the end of the Australian tour and ‘Papi’ had commended Sarwan on his attitude and sacrifice to play while injured. Sarwan also added that ‘Papi’ had shown him the report that he was to submit to the management and it was in direct contrast to the letter that Dr. Hilaire had sent. Once, Sarwan raised the matter of ‘Papi’’s conversation with Dr. Hilaire, he then became very aggressive and told Sarwan he could not be right. Throughout the conversation, Sarwan continued to ask Dr. Hilaire to identify the specific concerns for the benefit and improvement of his career, but nothing was forthcoming. Dr. Hilaire then told Sarwan that if he didn’t change his attitude, his career would end and then abruptly hung up the phone. As soon as Dr. Hilaire hung up the phone, Sarwan immediately called Dr. Hilaire back to ask if he was threatening his career, to which Dr. Hilaire responded that he would inform the selectors accordingly.
A letter in response was written by WIPA to the WICB requesting more information, followed by a meeting to resolve the issues in his letter. There was no response from the CEO. A Notice of Dispute was then sent which, pursuant to the Agreements, required good faith negotiations. However, Hilaire refused to meet with WIPA. Another request was sent for mediation, and while Hilaire agreed to mediation and indicated that the request and accompanying information was sent to the Dispute Resolution Center in Trinidad, WIPA doing the same, upon investigation by WIPA several months after it was discovered that no request was ever sent by the WICB. WIPA then referred the matter to Arbitration which took place on September 2011 some one year and eight months after the first complaint was made. The WICB was unwilling to amicably settle this dispute.
2) The arbitrator found that the WICB under Hilaire failed to carry out an appraisal process, which required the Coach to sit down with the player and discuss his strengths and point out his weaknesses and ways in which the player can improve. This process was meant to be a two-way process which should have been done in writing and signed by the Manager of the team. This process is critical as it determines who is retained for the upcoming year and is consistent with best practices in the work place.
3) The Arbitrator found that the WICB CEO’s conduct to take action against Mr. Sarwan without due process to be a breach of the agreements. The WICB and WIPA agreed to a code of conduct which prevented the WICB from taking unilateral decisions as it relates to disciplinary matters. Mr. Sarwan was penalized without going through the process without giving him an opportunity to be heard, a breach of natural justice and breach of the disciplinary procedure.
4) The Arbitrator found that the WICB selection committee, by acting on the advice of Dr. Hilaire, breached the selection process which required the selection process to be fair and transparent.
5) The Arbitrator found the conduct and statements made by the WICB against Mr. Sarwan were denigrating and without basis. In fact the Chairman of the WICB’s selection panel admitted that the statements were unfounded and was denigrating in nature.
In light of the above the Arbitrator found the WICB guilty of all charges and were ordered to pay by the Arbitrator significant damages to Mr. Sarwan, in addition to the WICB’s own legal cost, 85% of WIPA’s legal cost, 85% of the Arbitrators cost with 12% percent interest.
Interestingly, the CEO Ernest Hilaire, the President Julian Hunte nor Ms. Medford the WICB legal officer attended the hearing and was willing to be crossed examined to verify any of the facts in this matter. Furthermore, WIPA is not surprised that no action has been taken against the WICB Board members who supported this course of action or any of the staff members who were responsible for the action taken against Mr. Sarwan.