WIPA slams Tony Cozier for 'glaring inaccuracies'
Mon, Sep 24, '12
The West Indies Players Association (WIPA) is extremely concerned with the glaring inaccuracies, and one-sided nature of an article appearing in the Trinidad Express newspaper of Sunday, September 22nd, written by Mr. Tony Cozier, and entitled “No peaceful honeymoon for new WICB CEO.”
In the article, Mr. Cozier has attempted to pass off as facts to an unsuspecting public, some statements which a phone call to the offices of WIPA would have quickly cleared up. It is not the first time that Mr. Cozier has not been as thorough as he should have been, and has attempted to misinform the public about matters relating to WIPA.
WIPA wishes to firstly set the record straight on the basic factual errors contained in Mr. Cozier’s article:
1. “The WICB's contention is that the contract, in existence since 2005, should be renegotiated; the WIPA disagrees.’
Without a doubt, this is the biggest piece of misinformation in Mr. Cozier’s article. The fact is that WIPA does not disagree that the CBA and MoU should not be renegotiated. WIPA has, in good faith, engaged in several rounds of negotiations with the WICB in efforts to revise and agree new terms for these agreements consistent with the revision clause of the CBA. In fact, the court case referred to by Mr. Cozier in the paragraph immediately preceding his false assertion at 1.) above, has nothing to do with whether or not the agreements should be renegotiated. The case is, in fact, about whether or not the WICB should be allowed to, as they have attempted, to unilaterally terminate the agreements, and leave West Indian cricketers without the basic rights and protections which the agreements guarantee them. The WICB has made several failed attempts to so. The court will finally decide this matter in October 2012.
2. “Wavell Hinds, WIPA’s acting President and CEO since Dinanath Ramnarine retired in March 31st 2012".
Wavell Hinds is the interim President of WIPA. Mr. Michael Hall is the interim CEO. Both gentlemen were introduced to a regional television audience on April 13th, 2012 at the annual WIPA Awards Ceremony, and have been interviewed and quoted extensively since then by several regional media outlets. It is unfortunate that Mr. Cozier did not get these most basic of facts right.
3. ”It seemed significant that Ramnarine, the WICB's assertive nemesis throughout his nine years as WIPA head, had resurfaced to join Hinds at the Caricom meeting.”
Mr. Ramnarine has not “resurfaced” from anywhere, as he remains a Director of WIPA and, as such, has continued to volunteer his services in circumstances in which the organization requires them. He remains committed to the cause of players’ rights.
4. “……that the WIPA had told the joint meeting with the Caricom cricket sub-committee in early September that if it happened to lose this one it would "shut down" cricket. In other words, yet another strike.”
Once again, Mr. Cozier has reached a conclusion based solely on statements made by Dr. Hilaire (who incidentally was not present for this part of the discussions) and therefore without the benefit of the context in which the comment was made. More importantly, Mr. Cozier has failed to even try and understand why such an action, if contemplated, might become the only course of action for the players. Should the agreements be terminated, there will be no dispute resolution mechanism to settle disputes, and no formal structure of engagement between the parties. The WICB would end up jeopardizing their own agreements with their broadcasters, commercial partners and also the game in general. When WIPA and the Caricom PMSCC raised these matters in the meeting, the WICB was silent about these consequences, given their own course of action to unilaterally terminate the agreements.
We fear that Mr. Cozier’s narrow view is simply that cricket must be played – without regard to the rights and protection of the players - a view which WIPA will never support.
The outgoing WICB CEO is quoted frequently in Mr. Cozier’s article, and WIPA is forced to set the record straight concerning these quotes, since they give a totally false impression of what the issues really are. In fact, the outgoing CEO’s comments are nothing more than attempts on his part to cover up the breaches of the agreements which have increased exponentially under his stewardship of the WICB.
In the article Hilaire is quoted as saying "….the way the MOU/CBA is written it causes too many conflicts in terms of the ambiguity of the language, in terms of the lack of clarity of some of the provisions.”
For the record, the agreements which, according to Hilaire, contain “ambiguity” and “lack of clarity” in their language were eventually agreed on by both parties following 40 months of negotiations involving some of the most respected lawyers and industrial relations experts in the region. It has not been a lack of clarity which has caused problems for Hilaire during his “incredibly difficult, stressful and strained” term in office, but rather an apparently orchestrated strategy of willful breaches in an attempt to undermine the effectiveness of WIPA, and to threaten players and their livelihood.
In fact, if Mr. Cozier had taken the time to read the two recent Arbitrations handed down in favour of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Lendl Simmons, his misrepresentation and poor journalism may have been avoided and he may have been able to even comment on the rulings, which proved conclusively that “ambiguity” and “lack of clarity” had nothing to do with the failure of the WICB to (i) conduct appraisals for players with retainer contracts, (ii) not make denigrating public comments about players or (iii) most importantly, be fair and transparent with their selection process.
We must ask the question of Mr. Cozier and Hilaire: “What does ambiguity or a lack of clarity in the agreements have to do with the breaches committed as found by the Arbitrator?” The breaches were caused simply by the WICB failing to carry out very basic management practices.
The following is another extract from the article: “It was not intended to remain unchanged in perpetuity", he stated, adding that as long as it remains as its present from "it will always be an issue" with the WIPA.”
Once again, WIPA must make an important point. WIPA’s position has never been that the agreements must “remain unchanged in perpetuity”, instead it is WIPA’s position that all changes must be agreed by both parties before they can take effect, and that until such agreement is reached and signed by the parties consistent with the revision clause of the agreements, the WICB cannot unilaterally terminate the agreements – which they in fact are attempting to do.
WIPA also frowns on the misleading attempt by Mr. Cozier to construe the silence of the WIPA President (a reference which he draws on in two parts of his article) to give the impression that Mr. Hinds agreed with Hilaire’s comments. Mr. Hinds, who works at Sportsmax, has given an undertaking that he will not abuse his role as a co-host of the popular “Sportsmax Zone” to gain any advantage on WIPA’s behalf, and chose to remain silent.
WIPA states for the record that we remain committed to good faith negotiations in all matters affecting West Indies cricket. We must also state for the record, that whenever we believe that the rights of our members are under threat of erosion, we will take whatever action is necessary within the law to protect those rights.
We once again re-extend our offer to speak with Mr. Cozier, or any other journalists, regarding the agreements between WIPA and the WICB so that the West Indian public might get both sides of the story and then decide their relative merits.