The Netball Australia pay dispute saga has reached a new low following revelations some players are ‘sleeping in cars’ after not receiving a wage for nine weeks.
Former Diamonds captain Kathryn Harby-Williams confirmed many Super Netball players are doing it tough as they face an uncertain future, while star defender and Australian Netball Players Association president Jo Weston burst into tears in front of TV cameras on Thursday as the rawness of the situation hit home.
Fellow Diamonds star Sophie Garbin also revealed the Australian Cricketers Association has stepped in to assist some players financially.
It comes as Netball Australia (NA) and the Players Association have been locked in a bitter pay dispute for much of the year, with the previous collective player agreement (CPA) expiring on September 30.
NA on Wednesday offered a deal which would have resulted in a proposed 11 per cent pay rise – but Garbin spoke for many of her fellow stars when she said it was merely a ‘publicity stunt’ from the under pressure governing body.
The Netball Australia pay dispute saga has reached a new level following revelations some players are ‘sleeping in cars’ after not receiving a salary for nine weeks (pictured, defender Jo Weston)
The messy pay dispute comes just months after the Diamonds won the World Cup in South Africa (pictured, after beating England in the final)
‘Essentially it’s what they’ve been offering the whole time, and I think it’s a little bit of a PR stunt to be fair,’ she told Wide World of Sports.
‘They’ve come out and said they’re going to pay us, (but) it’s still not a partnership, it’s still not what we’ve been trying to achieve and asked for.
‘But I think for them, at the moment from what I’ve seen, they’ve been painted in quite a negative light, which they won’t be happy with.’
The sport is in disarray after mining magnate Gina Rinehart pulled her $15million sponsorship from the Diamonds in October last year.
At the time, the team expressed concerns over comments uttered about First Nations people by Ms Rinehart’s late father Lang Hancock in the 1980s.
Indigenous player Donnell Wallam was reportedly uncomfortable wearing the uniform with the Hancock Prospecting logo.
Netball Australia reportedly threatened legal action against stars if they boycotted the awards last Saturday in Melbourne – with members of the Diamonds team contractually obligated to attend
Harby Williams, who is also the CEO of the netballers union, said the ongoing saga has taken its toll, with Weston’s tears in front of the cameras a prime example.
‘We are desperate to get a deal done for these players because that’s the emotional toll that you are seeing right there,’ she said.
‘I have had players sobbing and weeping; players have slept in their cars; players have had to move out of their homes and move across the country back to families.
‘That’s the toll that this is taking on these players. ‘It’s a very fair and reasonable deal (we are asking for).’
Courtney Bruce (pictured) was the big winner on the night, taking home the Liz Ellis Diamond award for the second time and also being named international player of the year
In a statement, Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan said the governing body had ‘listened to the players and their need for financial certainty right now.’
‘This offer we have put forward would allow them to be paid immediately, while we continue negotiations with ANPA on building a financial model for the league,’ she said.
‘We hope this will provide all parties the certainty and stability they seek.’
Last Saturday, many Super netball stars boycotted the sport’s major award night in Melbourne due to the messy pay dispute.
Diamonds players only attended after they were threatened with legal action by NA if they didn’t turn up.
Liz Ellis, another Aussie netball great, expressed her disappointment earlier this week that Diamonds’ players were forced to attend the ceremony for the award named in her honour.
‘My disappointment and embarrassment at not being able to attend turned into anger when I was made aware that current Diamonds players and their advisers were threatened with possible legal action if they did not attend the dinner,’ Ellis said on Monday.
‘As a former Diamonds captain, I can not believe that the governing body of the sport I love would treat its Diamonds athletes, who are brilliant role models and ambassadors for netball, with such callous disregard.’
Aussie netball great Liz Ellis expressed her disappointment earlier this week that Diamonds players were forced to attend the ceremony under the threat of legal action
The sport has been in disarray from the moment mining magnate Gina Rinehart pulled her $15million sponsorship from the Diamonds in October last year
Donnell Wallam (pictured right) was reportedly uncomfortable wearing the uniform with the Hancock Prospecting logo following comments made by Rinehart’s father Lang more than 40 years ago
Ellis also went onto question the leadership at Netball Australia.
‘So, yet again, netball finds itself in the headlines for the wrong reasons — another crisis entirely of the sport’s own making,’ she said.
‘These women [Super netball players] have not been paid in eight weeks. They are fighting for fair pay and conditions not only for themselves but for the players who come after them.
‘Questions must be asked…and we need an immediate answer.’