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RLPA issues dispute to defend players’ rights under the CBA

The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) has today issued a dispute under the Collective Bargaining Agreement relating to the National Rugby League’s introduction of the ‘no-fault’ stand down rule.

The dispute has been issued on the basis that the NRL cannot make changes that are inconsistent either with the CBA or the NRL contracts without the agreement of the RLPA.

Throughout this process, the RLPA will ensure that the arrangements entered into under the CBA are protected.

RLPA Chief Executive Officer, Ian Prendergast, outlined the reason behind issuing a dispute under the CBA.

 ‘To be clear, our challenge under the CBA is about protecting the collective interests of our members.’ Mr Prendergast said.

‘We are acting to protect the rights of our members, the importance of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and our role as the representatives of players.

‘If we allow changes like this policy to be made without our agreement, it completely undermines the ability for the RLPA to properly represent its members and the validity of the CBA.

‘We recognise that there was a need for the NRL to address the series of incidents that occurred during the off season and the pressure it placed the game under – particularly from commercial partners and other important stakeholders.

‘The commitment under the partnership model is that we will put our heads together and jointly develop solutions to the societal issues impacting our game – but unfortunately that has not happened on this occasion.

 ‘We remain committed to working with the NRL and Clubs to find a better approach to dealing with complex issues of this nature and improving the culture within the sport, including around the respect and inclusion of women.

‘We hope that this dispute process will achieve what needed to happen in the first instance – that we will meet with the NRL formally and discuss our differences of opinion – ultimately agreeing on a better and more collaborative approach to managing these issues. ’

The RLPA had reserved its rights under the CBA until Jack de Belin’s case was heard by the Federal Court so that those proceedings could be dealt with in a timely manner and were not compromised by the Association simultaneously raising a dispute. 

It was also possible that the findings of the Federal Court could impact on the matters that form the basis of this dispute. However, that has turned out not to be the case and therefore the RLPA has initiated the dispute process.

In accordance with the CBA, the parties will firstly attempt to resolve the dispute by way of good-faith meetings. 
 
If no resolution can be reached, the dispute will be referred to Mediation. 
 
If not resolved through Mediation, the dispute will be referred to Arbitration, which will result in a final and binding determination.
 
There is a defined dispute process under the CBA which the RLPA is committed to working through with the NRL. 
 
The RLPA does not plan to play this dispute out publicly and will aim to work through it in a respectful and timely fashion.