Salary cuts: RPA seeks mediation and 'more respect' for players in pay dispute talks

Mark Lambert
Mark Lambert has been chairman of the players' union since 2017

Rugby Players Association (RPA) chairman Mark Lambert has renewed a call for collaboration with Premiership clubs as a dispute over pay continues.

On 8 June, top-flight sides voted unanimously to cut the salary cap by £1.4m from the 2021-22 season.

And they gave players a 10-day deadline to agree to the proposals.

In response, the RPA has called for mediation and threatened legal action, while Lambert says players deserve to be treated with more respect.

"Our offer remains open for formal mediation with the league and with the clubs," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

The vote by clubs to reduce the salary cap from its current limit of £7m comes with the majority of players having taken a temporary 25% wage cut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have had no details around the cap that was voted through last Monday," said Harlequins prop Lambert, who was speaking to the BBC's Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"This has been a decision for the benefit of the clubs and not the benefit of the players.

"There is a huge difference between temporary cuts and permanent cuts.

"The way you come to an agreement on that is by taking people on a journey with you, letting them know what the future looks like and what your projections are.

"Or if you can't do that, you come to some sort of compromise where it is linked to the revenues of the game and everyone benefits when the game gets back on its feet.

"There are ways to get through this and deal with this crisis in a constructive way, but that is based on transparency and respect. If players are engaged with in that way, they will respond."

Lambert says the players' union has been "forced to play things out publicly", and that its members have effectively received demands to make important decisions about their futures without enough information, and in a short timeframe.

"We never saw detailed financial information," the 35-year-old added.

"We were aware of general plans but there has not been detailed consultation.

"I've had conversations with people over the course of this crisis, they're saying 'I was playing in the Premiership 6 months ago and my only option now is to work in a supermarket'.

"There is nothing wrong with working in a supermarket but if elite athletes are in that situation, then something is breaking down.

"Players to this point have carried themselves with integrity and respect and all we've expected in return is the same."

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