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A seat at the table

The AFL and the AFL Players’ Association have commenced a mid-term review of the AFL/AFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The current CBA, which was agreed in late 2011 and will continue until the end of the 2016, achieved substantial gains towards the delivery of a first class sporting workplace.  Amongst other things, the CBA saw the introduction of full time Player Development Managers at all clubs, the availability of a four hour professional/personal development block for all players, and the introduction of the first ever player retirement annuity scheme in Australian sport.

Notwithstanding these gains, both the AFL and the Players’ Association recognised the need for a mid-term review, given the length of the CBA and the rapidly evolving nature of the industry. These discussions have focused not only on player payments, but on broader issues affecting players and the game such as occupational health and safety, minimum medical standards, and compensation for injured players.

“We’ve been really pleased with the discussions so far” said the AFLPA’s General Manager of Player Relations, Ian Prendergast.  “Both the PA and the AFL have come to the table with a number of proposals, which are principally aimed at ensuring Australian football’s position as the top sporting code on and off the field. It’s been a really collaborative discussion so far.”

This collaborative approach is underscored by the involvement of not just the PA and the AFL, but representatives from the Clubs and the Players themselves. Board members Will Minson, Drew Petrie and Dan Jackson have been active in discussions, which have also involved player delegates such as Collingwood stars Alan Toovey and Tyson Goldsack, Jordan Roughead and Easton Wood from the Western Bulldogs, Ty Vickery from Richmond, Chris Dawes from Melbourne, and Isaac Smith from Hawthorn.

“The opportunity to experience first hand the negotiation process has been incredible. Being present with all the stakeholders really helped to bring context to the debate. I would recommend to any player to get involved where they can in our negotiations.”

Prendergast agrees with Minson’s sentiments. “Our Board Members and Delegates have been terrific through this process.  They’re the ones who are ultimately going to be affected by the various proposals that are being put forward, so it’s important for both the AFL and the Clubs to hear their personal views on these issues.”

The discussions continue.