Union reopens PSL minimum wage talks

2019-12-03 11:59

Collective bargaining agreement will benefit players and the PSL.

Now that there is a new bargaining agreement in place between the PSL and the SA Football Players Union (Safpu), discussions over the minimum wage will soon resume.

This was the union’s top priority when it started representing players more than two decades ago, but the matter was not pursued.

Safpu and the PSL signed a collective bargaining agreement this week in a move aimed at improving the working conditions of professional footballers.

In a survey conducted by the union a few years ago, the players had suggested a base figure of R35 000 for those playing in the elite league and R18 500 for in the first division, according to Safpu president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe.

“At our congress – in 2016/17 – we conducted a study and the figures were determined. We first went to the players and they gave us an indication of what would be reasonable to them,” Gaoshubelwe told City Press, adding that the matter had been on the table for some time.

He said the study was based on the average revenue the PSL was generating at the time.

“The PSL always discloses how much it makes in revenue, and it makes our lives [as the union] easier.”

It must not be a confrontational approach. Nothing beats discussions.
Safpu president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe

Two years ago, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, to which Safpu is affiliated, conducted a survey that deduced that 38.4% of the players in the PSL players earned less than R8 000 a month.

This came after media reports revealed that Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma was earning just R5 000 a month, despite being promoted to a professional contract prior to his debut in April 2017.

However, Gaoshubelwe – who sits on the International Federation of Professional Footballers Africa board – could not immediately give an indication of what PSL players were earning now in terms of their base wages, suffice to say there had been an improvement.

He warned that cool heads would have to apply during their talks with the league regarding the minimum wage, especially now that the PSL had given the union access to the players at least twice a season.

“It must not be a confrontational approach. Nothing beats discussions. The country’s Labour Relations Act allows these discussions to take place and we have been in discussions with the league for some time,” said Gaoshubelwe, a former professional PSL player who turned out for Bush Bucks in his heyday. 

He came through the union’s ranks as the secretary-general under the previous leadership, which included the founding president, Cappy Matutoane.

When asked what made the latest collective bargaining agreement – which came into effect on Tuesday – different to the previous agreement, Gaoshubelwe said: “With this one, we thrashed out pressing issues from the word go. We are now in a position to go to Fifa [over disputes] because we have a national dispute resolution chamber in place. Over and above that, a player – local or foreign – has the opportunity to refer a matter to Fifa orally, meaning they don’t necessarily have to be present [during a hearing at Fifa in Zurich, Switzerland].”

Gaoshubelwe said other issues that would be discussed with the PSL would include its image and commercial rights, retirement, and insurance and tax-related matters.

He lauded the PSL for “showing good faith”, but also acknowledged that the union and the league had had some disagreements in the past.

“The most important aspect is the realisation of this collective bargaining agreement,” he said.

PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza encouraged the engagement between the league and the union.

“In recent times, our relationship has been troubled by arguments about the level of representation Safpu enjoyed‚ the level of compliance with agreements that were in place and arguments from both sides of the divide. This led to introspection and an effort from both sides to address the difficult issues and get the relationship back on track. I’m pleased to announce that we have a new commitment and a bargaining document between the PSL and Safpu,” said Khoza this week.

Some of the leagues that had signed bargaining agreements with players’ unions include the Premier League, La Liga in Spain, Italy’s Serie A, the Scottish Premier League and Major League Soccer in the US.

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December 8 2019