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Queensland Unions support rugby league players over industrial dispute

QCU-RLPA1 (web)

Queensland Unions are supporting the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in its bargaining dispute with the National Rugby League (NRL) over player conditions.

A delegation from the RLPA – including CEO Clint Newton – addressed the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) Executive for the first time on Wednesday, 2 August 2023.

Pictured above (L-R): RLPA Women’s Advisory Group Director and Brisbane Broncos NRLW player Chelsea Lanarduzzi, General Manager (Elite Women and International Relations) Lina Caccamo, QCU General Secretary Jacqueline King and RLPA CEO Clint Newton.

The address follows a briefing to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Executive last week where unions across the country voted unanimously to support the RLPA in its dispute with the NRL.

The RLPA has been bargaining with the NRL over a joint NRL and NRLW bargaining agreement for more than 20 months.

RLPA members are taking action including refusing media opportunities and taping over the NRL logo on their jerseys in response to the NRL’s decision to walk away from negotiations.

The RLPA has been waiting almost two weeks for a response from the ARL Commission when the Association last communicated to the Chair seeking an NRL commitment to an industrial relations mediator.

QCU General Secretary Jacqueline King said Queensland unions were supporting the RLPA because the issues faced by players were no different to those faced by other workers.

“NRL and NRLW players are elite athletes but they are also workers doing a job and they should be treated fairly and respectfully for the contributions they make,” Ms King said.

“The NRL’s take-it-or-leave-it approach to bargaining and refusal to refer the dispute to an agreed independent industrial mediator are tactics we see from obstinate employers all the time.

“The issues at the heart of this dispute – safe and secure work, respect and the right to act collective through a union – are issues common to all Queensland workers.

“Without players, there is no game and the NRL needs to be reminded of that.”

Ms King said player safety was also central to the dispute as the NRL was seeking the ability to add at least 16 additional games to player schedules without player agreement.

“This is about employer decisions that put worker health and safety at risk and it's about work intensification – again these are issues that all workers face,” she said.

”I have no doubt that Queensland union members will back in the RLPA. Their fight is a fight for safety and respect at work. And it’s our fight too.”