Miffed NRL refs not ruling out strike over mooted one-referee model
Frustrated NRL referees won't rule out strike action over a proposal to cut the number of whistleblowers on the field this season but first they just want to be included in discussions.
Professional Rugby League Match Officials chairman Silvio Del Vecchio confirmed on Sunday the referees were not consulted before the proposal to go from two referees to one was discussed at a Project Apollo meeting on Friday.
Del Vecchio said the lack of consultation was "disrespectful" and, while a strike was not currently being considered with the season set to restart in just 18 days, the option was there.
"Industrial action is certainly something that is on the list of things, but if you're starting at position zero and end up in position 10, well then industrial action may be at number 10," he told AAP.
"First and foremost we want to engage with the NRL, talk to them about how they have come up with this decision, where they go from here.
"Can we discuss it? How much does it mean financially to (referees)? What does it mean specifically for the individuals involved? What do we do about their mental health, their anxiety levels? All of those sorts of things.
"Right now we are not going to strike, we are not going to stand in the way of the season kicking off on May 28.
"It would be silly." On Friday the Australia Rugby League Commission asked Project Apollo to consider reverting to just one official for the remainder of the NRL season to cut costs. It comes as the game struggles with the financial implications of the coronavirus shutdown.
The proposal will be put back to the ARLC for approval at their meeting next week.
Del Vecchio said referees were told of the proposed move only minutes before the story was broken in the media, which he says was 'pretty ordinary'.
"We will not rule it out, but taking industrial action is a big and major thing," he said.
You don't just all of a sudden say 'we're striking because you guys didn't inform us of this, that and the other.
"We want to continue to be conciliatory about it all and we're saying, 'please include us'.
"We are key stakeholders in the game. The clubs, the players, (the NRL) have gone to a lot of trouble being in dialogue with them, but don't forget the referees.
"To have this happen at the last minute in a dictatorial way thrust upon us is disrespectful and that's what we're saying. We'd love for them to engage with us and figure it all out.
"We're not ruling out industrial action, but there are quite a number of steps down the path."
Originally published as Miffed NRL refs not ruling out strike over mooted one-referee model