Players are talking about strike action
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/ ... d-pay-cuts
English rugby's top club players threaten strike action over pay cuts
‘Individuals strong-armed to sign reduced terms’
Players’ union rejects cuts and warns of walkout
Wed 10 Jun 2020 13.08 BSTLast modified on Wed 10 Jun 2020 20.40 BST
England’s leading club players are considering strike action in an increasingly bitter row over the imposition of permanent wage cuts.
The Rugby Players Association chairman, Mark Lambert, said clubs are showing “an absolute disregard” for his members who are being placed under “undue pressure” to sign contracts on reduced terms by Thursday week.
Many clubs have already imposed temporary salary reductions of 25% prompted by the Covid-19 lockdown that has halted the season. With club owners having voted this week to reduce the annual salary cap by £1.4m from 2021-22, putting an additional squeeze on squad wages, the RPA cannot rule out a walkout.
“We very much see it as the last action and something you would look to avoid for the benefit of all stakeholders, because it is an extreme move,” said Lambert, the long-serving Harlequins front-row forward.
“But it is difficult for us to entirely rule out any options when we’re in the situation where we’ve got members with existing, fixed-term contracts essentially being strong-armed into thinking they have no choice but to sign an inferior contract.”
Lambert said Premiership Rugby’s desire to make permanent 25% wage cuts has been “unanimously rejected” by the players’ board and has warned of legal action. “From the outset of this crisis there has been an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game,” he said.
“Players at some clubs are now being served with ultimatums and being put under undue pressure to sign amended contracts through the manufactured deadline of 18 June.
“To be clear, this is a totally unacceptable way to operate. Players are the lifeblood of the game and should be treated with respect. This latest situation could have been entirely avoided with a collaborative and transparent approach and we now find ourselves heading towards a significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently. In the meantime the RPA position remains unequivocal: the RPA is opposed to permanent cuts for our members.”
There is also disquiet that clubs are trying to force through pay cuts just months after collecting a £10m windfall apiece from the private equity firm CVC. Many clubs are still struggling to stay afloat financially and the RPA’s chief executive, Damian Hopley, said last month that his members were worried about the wider outlook for their sport.
“We’ve been on calls to some clubs where there is a very genuine concern the club might not last the year based on the current financial projections,” Hopley said. “We don’t want to have a sport where there are only six clubs left at Christmas.”
Hopley is adamant that collective agreement is the best way forward. “Everyone recognises the world is a very different place to three months ago but the most important thing a player has is his contract.”
The Premiership season is to resume on 15 August, with the majority of players having started to return to training.