The RLPA is in negotiations with the NRL about a new collective bargaining agreement – negotiations the association believes may now well have been undermined.
In a lengthy and scathing statement released late Friday, RLPA chair Dr Deidre Anderson lashed out at the league, labelling the announcement “unprecedented” and “disrespectful”, and said clubs were only told of the decision minutes before it was made public.
READ MORE: League mourning death of star behind 1-0 game
The league on Friday announced the NRL salary cap would increase from $9.6 million in 2022 to $12.1 million next season.
The cap for a club’s top 30 players will rise to a record-high $11.45 million, while the development list will increase from $240,000 to $650,000.
The NRL has also decided the minimum salary for all male players in a club’s top 30 squad will increase to $120,000.
The NRLW’s cap has also lifted to $884,000.
Anderson said the association “received a 185-word financial proposal” on Wednesday afternoon that provided little detail “on the full terms and conditions of the agreement”.
“Today’s announcement has the potential to undermine the ongoing CBA negotiations and therefore the rights of players,” it said.
“To announce new salary caps for players without their agreement and bypassing their association is unprecedented and, to the best of our knowledge, clubs were also not provided with the details of the new salary caps and player payment structure until approximately five minutes before the ARLC’s public announcement.”
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo told the Sydney Morning Herald the governing body was still working with the RLPA to finalise the CBA.
“The ARL Commission are taking a leadership position, we don’t have to do this, but we want to provide certainty for contracting purposes, certainty for clubs, certainty for the players, and there are record increases for the male and female players, which is exciting.”
But Anderson said the announcement does the opposite.
“For a governing body to set its own salary cap disrespects the entire player representation movement and the importance of collective bargaining. Today’s announcement goes against negotiating in good faith and only damages the trust between the players and the governing body,” she said.
“The players have been ready and willing to negotiate the full terms and conditions of their CBA for 12 months. It is not appropriate for the players to be rushed into agreeing to a financial proposal two days before Christmas.
“Agreeing to this week’s financial proposal, even in principle, would have created even more uncertainty for the industry and players because we would be working backwards and re-engineering terms and conditions to a figure that has already been set.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!