‘Publicity stunt’: Jo Weston in tears as players reject latest pay offer from Netball Australia

Australian Diamonds star Jo Weston broke down in tears after rejecting Netball Australia’s latest pay offer that was labelled a “publicity stunt” by the players’ association chief executive.

Fronting the media in Melbourne after NA offered players, who haven’t been paid in nine weeks amid the ongoing stoush, back pay if they signed up to the current offer, players’ association boss Kathryn Harby-Williams outlined the emotional toll the situation was taking on players.

She revealed some had been sleeping in cars and moving back to live with family, saying NA continued to stall on agreeing to more than 20 resolutions unanimously agreed on by players on Wednesday.

Another player meeting on Friday could determine “if the players have confidence in Netball Australia”, which put forward a deal for immediate back pay on wages that would increase by 11 per cent over a proposed three-year agreement.

Harby-Williams labelled the move a “publicity stunt” and said the players didn’t want a stopgap deal.

“We were actually a little bit confused as to what it was,” Harby-Williams said of NA’s offer on Wednesday.

“We’ve been negotiating the collective bargaining agreement in totality.

“We are meeting with Netball Australia tomorrow (Friday) to discuss and further the negotiations, but that will be with the intent of walking into that room to do a deal in totality.”

Weston, the president of the players’ union, broke down when talking about legal threats made to players ahead of their awards night last weekend when Australian representatives were compelled to attend.

“The Netball Australia awards are one of my favourite … It’s been really hard,” Weston said through tears.

“All of us just want to be able to move forward with what we think is fair and reasonable for our playing group.

“We want to feel like we’re valued. We want to feel like we’re respected and listened to and hopefully tomorrow when we’re in the room we’ll be able to get something done for our players.”

Harby-Williams said Weston’s breakdown showed the stress that players were under.

“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’re asking for). We’ve pared it back from a percentage of licensing, merchandise events, ticketing to simply a small share of above forecast sponsorship revenue.”

Super Netball contracts expired nine weeks ago and Harby-Williams said players were “struggling being unemployed”.

“We don’t want just words, we want action. That could have been done nine weeks ago,” she said.

“We put a proposition on the table to say to Netball Australia lock in player payments to the end of January, which will enable us enough time to do a deal, and that was rejected.

“So for it to be put on the table now is confusing because it was a part deal – I thought a page was missing because there was no reference to revenue share or the commercial arrangement, so it was just a publicity stunt as far as we’re concerned.”

Originally published as Diamonds star Jo Weston in tears as players reject latest pay offer from Netball Australia

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