'Western Sydney workers stand with Wanderers players' — unions back footballers in pay dispute

December 9, 2014
Western Sydney Wanderers players celebrate with fans after winning the first leg of the Asian Champions League final in Parramat

Players for A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers are in dispute with club management over their share of prize money for taking part in the Club World Cup in Morocco.

Wanderers players have not ruled out boycotting their December 13 match against Mexican team Cruz Azul if no agreement is reached.

The players earned 50% of the prize money for taking part in the Asian Champions League, which the Wanderers became the first Australian team to win on November 1, booking their place at the CWC.

However, club management is offering players a paltry 10% for the CWC to be split among the squad of up to 25. Under management's deal, the players share will only rising to 50% in the unlikely event they win the entire tournament -- a feat that would require beating European giants Real Madrid.

Beau Busch from the Professional Footballers Australia, the union for Australian football players, said under the club's deal, each player could earn just $2500 after tax, despite the fact the CWC is one of the world's most prestigious club tournaments.

Bush accused the club of stonewalling, despite the players seeking talks to resolve the issue since winning the ACL.

Many players from other A-League and W-League clubs have tweeted their support for, and solidarity with, the Wanderers players.

Former Socceroos player and football commentator Craig Foster wrote a hard-hitting open letter in full support of the Wanderers players. He pointed out the Wanderers players were fighting for the interests of all professional footballers.

Foster highlighted an industrial dispute he took part in in as part of the 1997 Socceroos squad. Foster, a life member and former CEO of the PFA wrote: "My generation of players fought for it for you. You do so now for players in years to come."

A range of trade unions have also offered their solidarity (see statement below). Writing for Working Life on November 9, Mark Philips said: "Their supporters are renowned as the most passionate in the A-League, and now Western Sydney Wanderers players also have unions backing them in a dispute with the club’s management over their share of prize money from taking part in the FIFA Club World Cup.

"As the squad arrived in Morocco to prepare for the tournament against the likes of Real Madrid and Mexico’s Deportivo Cruz Azul, a group of unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers in western Sydney has announced their support for the players."

Philips reported that Busch said the union support "was 'massive' for the players who were conscious of the working class support for the club".

Busch said: "Throughout this process, the players are really mindful of not wanting to burn this relationship between the players and the fans.

"This statement of support and solidarity from the unions gives them the strength to carry on."

On Demcember 10, SBS.com.au reported that the prospect of a boycott appeared had lessened with talks continung and a leading member of the team declaring "things are looking positive".

Below is the solidarity statement released on December 9 that was signed by state union peak body UnionsNSW and several individual unions. You can support the Pay the Players campaign here.


Western Sydney workers support Wanderers players

Unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers across Western Sydney have come out in support of the Western Sydney Wanderers players who have been unfairly treated by their club management.

Players are considering not taking the field following a decision by club management not to honour their collective agreement to provide players with 50% of the prize money.

“Workers across Western Sydney are standing with Wanderers players in fighting for their rights,” said ASU NSW secretary Sally McManus.

“As the Secretary of a major union and a Wanderers foundation member, I’m just disgusted with the behaviour of club management.

“A deal is a deal. The club should honour the players’ collective agreement and pay them 50% of the prize money from the Club World Cup” she said.

“Like every business, the Wanderers have built their success off the back of the hard work of their players.

“The players have every right to stand up for a fairer deal. If they choose not to take the field after a lack of good faith by management, union members across Western Sydney will be right behind them.”

Unions representing workers across Western Sydney have pledged their support to the players' campaign. The following unions are calling on Western Sydney Wanderers’ owners to negotiate a fair outcome:

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Australian Services Union
Australian Workers Union
Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union – Construction and
General Division NSW
Finance Sector Union NSW/ACT Branch
Fire Brigade Employees Union
Health Services Union NSW Branch
Maritime Union of Australia – Sydney Branch
Rail, Tram, and Bus Union
Transport Workers Union NSW
United Voice

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