A group of AFLW players have begun to seek legal help in response to the AFL Players' Association's handling of AFLW pay negotiations according to Michael Warner of the Herald Sun.
According to Warner, workers' rights firm Maurice Blackburn confirmed it is representing a group of dissatisfied AFLW players who are unhappy with the players' union's handling of collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the AFL.
The group of players told the AFLPA on Wednesday that they were "not in a position to recommend the current CBA."
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Jacinta Lewin told the Herald Sun that the union was pressuring players into accepting the new pay deal.
"The players are being pressured to accept an unfair deal, without knowing the full details," said Lewin.
"They have been told that unless they commit to a deal this week, and the AFL is unwilling to recommence negotiations, that they may be forced to sign a commitment not to play (in 2020).
"This is inaccurate and misleading. There are a range of options available to players to negotiate a better deal. All efforts should be exhausted before they are locked into a three-year deal which impacts their rights and the future of AFLW."
The new deal as currently proposed would result in a 21 per cent pay rise for players next season according to the AFLPA.
However, the block of players now being represented by Maurice Blackburn dispute this, believing the deal only to be both a pay increase of 7 per cent next season "based on hourly rates" with zero increases for the 2021 season.
The move for legal representation comes after AFLW pioneer Susan Alberti last month called for AFLW players to break away from the AFLPA and form their own representative union body as dissatisfaction with AFLPA efforts mounts.
"They are simply not listening to core sections of their membership," said Lewin.
"There is a lack of transparency and consultation. AFLW players should feel confident that their concerns are heard, valued and respected. They should feel confident that agreements affecting their rights are negotiated transparently, with their input from the start. This is not the experience of the players we are representing. It is a cause for real concern.
"Our client’s rightly expect more of their association."
The group of players requests the AFLPA presents a breakdown of the AFL's offer ahead of a vote on the CBA which requires 75% to approve the deal.
In an email sent to AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh, the group says "a 5 per cent increase plus inflation year on year is fair and reasonable."
In response, the AFLPA says the group of players seeking legal help are in the minority and most of players support the deal.
Last season, about half of the 300 AFLW players earned less than $14,000 for the season.