GMB slams breakaway union

The GMB trade union has heavily criticised a new players’ union devised by Super League stars Jamie Peacock, Lee Briers and Jon Wilkin called 1eague3.

Also on the committee of the new scheme is CEO Ernie Benbow who is also programme director for State of Mind, Terry O’Connor who will act as a player ambassador and Mike Denning.

The group have also entered into the Professional Players Association and therefore be joining sports such as football and golf.

The new body, that will launch in Manchester next week, say they have received applications of membership from 75% of the current Super League playing staff. 

The organisation pledges to:

Effectively represent the players both inside and outside the sport
Protect, advance and enrich each and every member, regardless of club affiliation
Enshrine the democratic right of 1eagu3 though the engagement of all players
Ensure that players have the opportunity to play their part in the advancement of their profession and sport working in partnership with other key stakeholder partners

Jon Wilkin said: “I want to ensure that the voice of every player is heard when decisions are made that affect our profession, whether it concerns the playing rules, the disciplinary process or the salary cap.

“I am happy to lead the players of Super League forward as a collective group, something that has not been achieved before in this sport.”

England captain, Jamie Peacock who will recieve an MBE from the Queen in Feburary said: “As a player, I am grateful for the unique opportunities that rugby league has afforded me and, as I approach the end of my career, I want to ensure that those same opportunities are protected for this generation and future generations.

However GMB have reacted badly to the breakaway group claiming that it won’t be in the players best interests to leave GMB and join the new scheme.

Geoff Burrow, father of Leeds scrum-half Rob and head of the GMB’s Rugby League Players’ Association, told Sky Sports “GMB is angry and disappointed at the announcement of a breakaway group.

I am accusing those behind it of trying to create an elitist organisation that has no experience, no skills or any back-up to look after players’ interests. I would question exactly what players will get for their £10 per month to this breakaway body.

GMB has put 300 of our rugby league members through training courses, subjects as diverse as gym instructors, personal trainers and even cookery so that we equip players to have a profession to turn to when their playing career comes to an end.

Tim Roache, regional director of GMB, added: “GMB has secured half a million pounds in compensation on contractual and playing disputes in the last two years alone. Much of that work has been done by our union’s employment experts. How on earth is a breakaway body, with no experience or track record, going to match that?

Jamie Peacock and Jon Wilkin should be honest with the players they are trying to recruit and accept they have no money, no back-up and no structure to look after them and they will be walking them over a cliff.

“GMB has asked both Jon and Jamie to become GMB representatives, especially as they are both still members, rather than trying to set up a splinter organisation.

“All that will do is divide us all and play into the hands of those who want to get players on the cheap.”


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