Players union takes fight for justice to RFL

A significant change could be on the way for player contracts in the UK after a tribunal in Manchester last week led by the official players union, who have branded the current contract situation disgraceful.

League Express can reveal that the Rugby League Players Association, part of the GMB trade union, were in Manchester last week for a three-day hearing, when they challenged Championship side Leigh Centurions concerning the unfair dismissal and breach of contract claims for a number of former players.

The controversial clause 2.4, which allows clubs to terminate employment upon relegation, is at the heart of the issue, and the union is hoping that while the judgement of the tribunal has not yet been revealed, it will expose the flaws in the RFL’s contract system when it is.

Peter Davies (pictured), Senior Organiser for the union, which represents professional Rugby League players in the UK, said: “It is pretty clear to me after listening to the evidence this week that Leigh have taken advantage of the dismissal clause that sits in these contracts, despite getting a parachute payment agreed by other clubs after they got the drop, and taken it to mean they can treat players like cattle.

“It’s a disgrace and we need to end this within the sport. Rest assured that whatever the result of this tribunal is, we are determined to do that and this union has the means and the will to challenge clubs and the RFL when our players are dealt with in this way.”

The union did not wish to go into further details of the case, as it has yet to be decided, but they assured League Express that a full statement will be released once the result comes in from the tribunal, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Last year, Davies told League Express: “We’re putting Clause 2.4 in front of our lawyers now. Once that clause is invoked and these players have their contract terminated, it makes a mockery of the contract system and things like the parachute payment.

“You’ve got to be a big, robust organisation to get things like that changed and we’ve got the resources to do that in the courts if we have to.”

© League Express (Mon 2nd Dec 2019)