CEO Grassick believes new idea to block debt can prove feasible
Irish Trainers’ Association chief executive Michael Grassick believes proposals to prevent trainers from incurring debt from owners can and should be implemented.
Grassick was speaking on Friday in the wake of the trainers' annual meeting, at which issues surrounding the proposed pay increase for stable staff and horse welfare were discussed, along with the problem of outstanding bills left by owners.
Grassick reckons it is time owners who leave trainers with unpaid bills are denied the opportunity to run their horses with a different trainer.
It is thought the way forward for implementing such a measure would be for owners to pay training fees through Horse Racing Ireland, rather than direct to trainers.
Should an owner fail to pay training fees, the horse in question would then be placed on a forfeit list and be unable to run until fees had been paid.
“There is far too much debt being left behind,” said Grassick.
“More talks will be needed between Horse Racing Ireland and ourselves, but the proposals would give trainers added security going forward as they should receive payment every time they invoice an owner and not be left in debt.“It’s extremely feasible and we should be able to offer some added protection for trainers.”Requests made by the Irish Stable Staff Association for increased pay were also considered. The ISSA would like the current agreed minimum hourly rate of €9.75 for a 39-hour week increased to €11.40.
Those present at the trainers' agm pointed out that stable staff were already paid above the agreed minimum rate by most trainers, but it was agreed the IRTA Committee would return to the ISSA and negotiate over an increase.
Grassick said: “We're happy to meet with the ISSA and discuss this matter further. I can assure everyone that there is nobody working on the Curragh for the minimum wage, and most trainers look after their staff brilliantly. We're confident we can meet with an agreement that suits both parties on this issue.”
Of greater concern to trainers was the recruitment of staff, and the general consensus was that there remained a shortage of applicants. It was proposed that a recruitment drive be undertaken and HRI be asked what help it could provide.
Another view aired was that many course facilities for stable staff were poor, and that adequate dining was often insufficient, requiring employees to stop for food on the journey home.
It was agreed the IRTA committee should work with racecourses in a bid to improve the situation.