Players union demands a slice of the pie following government loan

The Rugby League Players’ Association has told its members that they will demand they are paid in full once rugby returns, following last week’s announcement of a government loan of £16 million to the RFL.

In a strongly worded letter obtained by League Express, the GMB’s senior organiser, Pete Davies, told members they would take appropriate action if their demands were not taken on board.

Players at the vast majority of clubs have taken pay cuts to ease financial pressures on clubs, though many believe they should not have to play with wage reductions once the game resumes.

Davies said they had not been given any detail about how the £16 million loan would be used and that the sport’s decision-makers would want to decide on the sport’s future without their voice being heard.
He went on to say they have already asked for a revision to the pay cuts on the back of the loan being granted.

“A £16 million Government loan has been agreed with the RFL to help save the sport,” writes Davies.

“We don’t have any detail around what that money will be used for. The RFL have done the deal behind closed doors, they have not included us but please remember this is a loan and is therefore a cost, if we had been involved we would have been asking for a GRANT & LOAN facility.

“The powers that be will be hoping they can plan and decide how the sport moves forward without your voice at the table. We are told this loan is to help cover losses during the shut down, what does that mean? We have no idea and have not been given any detail. What we do know is that those very losses were what we were told was driving the cuts to your wages, a sacrifice YOU made to save the sport.

“The GMB/RLPA will be making demands on your behalf come the June Review, indeed we are asking for a 1st review now, and that must start with the inclusion of the Union in all discussions around pay cuts, an end to the idea of forcing academy players to play for peanuts and if they want real Rugby back, we will be demanding real pay back.

“We are in the same position the NRL guys face down under: if they want you to put your bodies on the line then they need to listen to your voice.

“We will be launching Zoom member meetings now and organising more meetings as soon as the lock down eases. The time is coming where we need to stand up and be counted and we want all players behind that. You need to give us your demands and have your say, if they don’t listen and yes, that includes these pathetic threats to blacklist players who don’t toe the line, we will be providing that say in a ballot of all members come game time.”

The RFL chief executive said in a media briefing on Friday that the loan would be used to cover further financial shortfalls that remain despite the measures clubs have already taken to cut their cloth, meaning it will not be used to cover pay cuts.

“The sport and governing body took some fairly drastic measures in order to cut their cloth when this lockdown period began,” Rimmer said.

“None of them should be considered backtraced and it has to be used to move forward.

“It’s all about moving forward and being fit for the future. It’s not a lump sum in the bank account of each club and saying to them crack on as you were. We have to be meticulous in how we apply it to ensure we’re sustainable in the future.”