Limerick FC players vote for strike action

Limerick FC players vote for strike action
PFAI Geeral Secretary Stephen McGuinness Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
LIMERICK FC players voted on Tuesday to take strike action after a ballot was taken over the club’s inability to guarantee payment of their wages for the rest of the season.

It is believed that some players were paid the wages they were owed for June on Tuesday and that a commitment has been made to honour outstanding payments, but Limerick FC gave no guarantees that wages would be paid for the remainder of the 2018 season, prompting the players to vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

Following news of the players’ intention to strike, Limerick FC released a statement claiming that, in early June, officials from the PFAI “requested that the club lodge the players’ salaries for the rest of the season into an escrow account guaranteeing players’ salaries up to October 2018″, a request that the club described as “unreasonable”.

That statement also claimed that: “The club chairman met with some players on Friday last (July 13) and arising from that meeting it was agreed that he would meet the entire squad on Monday, July 16.

“The club, as requested, did make efforts to meet the players on Monday morning (July 16), to try to resolve the issue, However the players did not attend the meeting.”

A representative from SIPTU met with Limerick players on Tuesday lunchtime to discuss the possibility of balloting union members in relation to a pay dispute at the club, with Limerick FC putting on record that it was “extremely disappointed” with the players’ decision to strike.

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The club was notably critical of the PFAI and its general secretary Stephen McGuinness, saying: “The action of the PFAI and the leadership by Mr McGuinness in their decision-making, during this time, has not being conducive to create a good working environment between players and management.”

In response, the players of Limerick FC issued a statement through the PFAI to explain the reasons for taking strike action, saying that: “At the eleventh hour, we have received commitments from the club that we will be paid what we are owed to date but have received no satisfactory confirmation that our contracts will be honoured in the future.

“With nearly four months of the season to go, this leaves us in a very precarious situation as we simply cannot endure another long period without pay. Like most workers, we have commitments and outgoings which will not wait for payment at the club’s behest.

“We will now serve strike notice and if payments which fall due in the future are not honoured then we will have no option but to take the last resort option of going on strike.”

On Tuesday night, the PFAI issued a strong riposte to Limerick FC, claiming that it was “inaccurate to suggest that all players were paid prior to training on [Monday June 4]“, the day that they met with the club, and added that “at no stage have we or [the players] sought all wages in any escrow account”.

The PFAI concluded: “It is entirely wrong for Limerick to now seek to pass any blame for this completely unsatisfactory situation away from anyone but themselves. They entered into contracts with players which they haven’t been able to keep. That is their fault and theirs alone. Limerick need to step up to the plate and honour the contractual obligations on the dates they are due.”

The players will take to the field for their fixture away to St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday evening, which kicks off at 8pm and will be shown live on eir Sport. However, the decision to strike has raised doubts over the home fixture against Waterford on Friday, July 27.