Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Threatened Industrial Action by Turf Club Racing Officials

STATEMENT FROM THE TURF CLUB IN RELATION TO THE PROPOSED STRIKE BY RACING OFFICIALS

Over the past week a great deal of misinformation has been circulated by the members of the Turf Club Officials Association (TCOA) and by their trade union Mandate.

While it was not the wish of the Turf Club to conduct its industrial relations by press release or, at this point in time, to comment on the upcoming industrial action by officials we believe we have no option but to respond given the level of misinformation.

Before dealing with the facts of the matter we must put on record our extreme disappointment that both Mandate and the TCOA have felt it acceptable practice to communicate their decisions, including the one to take strike action, to us through the media.  It is an unacceptable way to conduct discussions on a matter of such importance to our employees and Irish racing.

The FACTS of the situation are as follows;-

• No industry has been immune to the current recession, including the racing industry.  Government funding to HRI has been cut by 23%.  Prize money, the lifeblood of the industry is back to 2002 levels. Turf Club Integrity Services funding is down from € 7.9 million to € 6.4 million. We understand and accept why this has to be the case.

• At all times The Turf Club has sought to preserve the jobs of its officials and to ensure the continuing integrity of Irish racing to the highest standards. That remains our priority.

• The Turf Club has reviewed all its costs and we have made savings across all of our expenses however the fact is that staff or staff related costs account for 77% of all Turf Club integrity expenditure.  While we recognise the excellent job our officials do for racing they are well remunerated for that work.  The fact is we must make savings in staff costs.  These savings will affect all employees not just our racing officials.

• Mandate has said that officials are being asked to accept a 36.5% cut in their remuneration.   That is grossly misleading. The Turf Club is asking for, on average, a 7% cut on last year’s salary. (This is the first such cut that the Turf Club has ever proposed to salary.)

• Following initial local negotiations, talks in the Labour Relations Commission took place for over 13 hours on 2nd and 4th of February. These talks broke down due to unrealistic pre-conditions being set by Mandate and the TCOA. These conditions included the guarantee of a pay INCREASE of 3% for all TCOA members on 1st January 2012.  With the current economic uncertainty we obviously could not agree to such a demand.

• Perhaps however the most misleading - and ultimately damaging – misinformation were the suggestions that the proposed cuts to the overall Integrity budget would "negatively impact on the standards of sampling of horses through blood and urine tests; the identification of all racehorses on a race day; and the use of camera facilities". This is TOTALLY untrue. The level of drug testing and the level of microchip checking for horse identification will be unchanged and potentially enhanced in 2010.  Cost reduction does not mean a reduction in service to Irish racing.  No cuts being made will impact on the integrity of Irish racing. To suggest otherwise is being deliberately misleading.

The Turf Club remains willing to meet with Mandate and the TCOA.  In these difficult times the Turf Club must, as it has always done, act in the best interests of Irish racing.


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