Association frustrated over delay agreeing deal with trainers
The chairman of the Irish Stable Staff Association has expressed his frustration over pay for stable staff and the length of time it is taking to agree a deal with trainers.
Since April, Bernard Caldwell has been negotiating with the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, whose chairman Michael Grassick has said more than 90 per cent of trainers are struggling financially.
Caldwell said: “I'm so disappointed with the way that we're being treated and with the length of time that we're waiting to have an answer on this.
“Some of the stable staff would be better off working in McDonald’s. At least in McDonald’s you get your holidays, days off and you're out of the cold.
“What would entice young people to work in racing? It’s about time trainers started treating staff properly as the sector is struggling badly.”
Caldwell has been trying to get minimum pay for staff raised from €9.75 per hour to €11.40, as well as increasing travel expenses.
“I think this is bully-boy tactics in trying to keep stable staff down,” Caldwell said. “We're not going to lie down and are going to try to get an increase for stable staff.
“We understand trainers are struggling. But staff are at the lowest end of the scale and probably doing the most work. The trainers' association have a counsel that represents them, and surely they could have met about this before now.”
The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association will discuss the issue at its AGM on November 23. Grassick is optimistic the issue can be resolved and said the topic would be a priority at the meeting.
Grassick said: “I'm confident we'll resolve this issue and everything is on the table at the moment.
“The main topic we'll discuss is an increase in the minimum wage for stable staff and also an increase in travel expenses. At the moment we're negotiating the levels of pay.”
Grassick also addressed the delay in discussing the potential pay increase.
He said: “At the last meeting between both parties talks didn't go as expected. I told them I'd have to put all prospective changes before the committee, and I knew that the committee would put it forward to the AGM. That's why we've been waiting until the 23rd, but it is high on our list.
“We're struggling [with regards stable staff] but the number of trainers struggling in the middle tier is colossal. We've lost a lot of trainers and are going to lose more as it is just uneconomical at the moment to train horses. Very few can make it pay.”
Horse Racing Ireland’s Carol Nolan will help facilitate the negotiations between the two parties.