NRL's Patience Being Stretched

The National Rugby League on Tuesday released a statement warning it was "losing patience" with the ongoing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations with the players union.

Members of the Rugby League Professionals Association (RLPA) will gather at South Sydney Leagues Club on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments with the negotiations.

The two sides have been negotiating for some time, the dispute causing the cancellation of the Dally M awards in September.

The NRL said it had tried its best to accommodate the RLPA.

"The NRL remains willing to continue to strive for a negotiated outcome but is losing patience with the current process," the statement said.

Accusing the RLPA and its president, former Canterbury and Newcastle front rower Tony Butterfield, of having "constantly changing positions", the statement denied Butterfield's reported claim that three-quarters of issues relating to the CBA are yet to be resolved.

The statement goes on to say there are only two issues outstanding.

One is a request from the RLPA that the NRL contribute to the cost of wages, travelling expenses and other running costs incurred in running a football club.

To do so, the NRL has asked for more information from the RLPA.

"While the concept of any employer group funding the activities of a registered trade union is novel, the NRL can hardly be asked to consider funding without first being informed as to how the RLPA intends to spend the money," it said in the statement.

The second unresolved issue is about the existence in NRL rules of a provision allowing the NRL to punish a player if it is found he assisted his club to breach the salary cap.

The statement said the clause was clarified to the RLPA last month and they raised no objections.

"(This issue) is one that was clarified after discussion at the recent NRL annual conference which was attended by player representatives from all clubs," the statement said.

"There was no objection raised in response to the explanation provided at the time by either the players or the RLPA."

NRL chief executive David Gallop accused Butterfield of doing a "backflip".

"We have worked extremely hard to finalise this agreement and significant progress was made during the two day negotiating conference in October," Gallop said.

"As a result, we believe we are very close to a complete resolution on all the major issues identified by the players at the start of this process.

"If Mr Butterfield's media statements are anything to go by, the RLPA has done a backflip, and not for the first time in the course of our negotiations ... the whole process has left us extremely frustrated."

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