May 30, 2014 3:54 pm
Updated: May 30, 2014 4:37 pm

Eskimos players arrive for training camp despite breakdown of labour talks

Edmonton Eskimos players practice at Commonwealth Recreation Centre, May 30, 2014

Mike Simpson, Global News

EDMONTON – While a number of Edmonton Eskimos are already in town for training camp, the ongoing labour dispute between the CFL and the CFLPA threatens to complicate the start of the season.

“We’re just going to go out and work until the time comes where something happens, if a deal gets done or it doesn’t,” said Eskimos wide receiver Shamawd Chambers.

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“Whenever they decide that you know it’s time for something to happen, we’re going to act on that, but … we’re just going to go out to practice and learn the system that we need to learn both offence and defence and make sure that we’re prepared to play the season.”

On Thursday, labour negotiations between the Canadian Football League and the Players’ Association broke down.

READ MORE: Labour talks break off between CFL, CFLPA 

The CFL rejected the union’s latest proposal, one that included an amendment to its original demand that revenue sharing be included in this deal.  The players conceded revenue sharing in the current agreement, which was signed prior to the 2010 season.

The current collective bargaining agreement expired at 10 p.m. MST Thursday.

WATCH: CFL commissioner Mark Cohon told Global News he thinks fans want both sides to “get back to football”

The new CFLPA president Scott Flory has said the union won’t play under terms of the present contract. However, veteran players will report to their respective teams Saturday for medicals or Sunday for the opening of training camp.

“We absolutely want the players to report,” said CFL commissioner Mark Cohen.

Bryan Hall says the players will report to training camp because they want to play.

“The players want to play and the league wants to play, and there’s just too much to lose,” said the Eskimos’ former play-by-play broadcaster.

Chambers says that even a few days of training as a team is better than none, should a strike happen.

“It’s important for us because we have our new offence and new defence and new coaches to get into the meeting room to make sure we can map out exactly what we’re going to try to do this season,” he said.

However, Hall would be stunned if the dispute led to a lockout situation.

“I’m confident that when it comes time to play some games, they’ll be playing games. They both know they have to have that happen.”

If there is a vote strike among players, it would likely be pushed into next week because of Alberta Labour Laws, which require Eskimos and Stampeders players to vote on-site and give 72-hours notice to the league before a strike.

Hall says there’s a bit of a power struggle going on, but that a compromise must be reached.

“The players cannot be the power in the league; the ownership has to be the power,” said Hall.

“They make the television deals, they make the deals for stadiums, they put the money out, they do all of those things. I understand the players put on the show, and they should get their fair share, but the league has to be run by the business people, it can’t be run by the players.”

“So, let’s get over it fellows, and let’s get on with it, and let’s get playing some football, because ultimately that’s what everybody wants. That’s all the fan wants. The fan isn’t interested in the family bickering.”

Edmonton’s first game of the season is scheduled for June 13.

With files from Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press


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