Horse racing officials to strike on 28 February 2010

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Turf Club urged to resolve dispute in the Labour Court
Mandate Trade Union has issued strike notice on the Turf Club on behalf of its members in the Turf Club Officials Association (TCOA). The 32 members of the TCOA, which includes officials who carry out stewarding duties and are the sole regulators and enforcers of the rules of horseracing in Ireland, are striking over issues relating to pay and the slashing of the integrity budget.
According to Mandate and the officials there is a strong possibility of resolving the dispute ahead of the strike, but that is only if both parties agree to attend the Labour Court.
Mandy Kane, Divisional Organiser for Mandate Trade Union said, “The strike may affect several events on the Irish horseracing calendar, but we want to be quite clear in stating that the officials do not want to go on strike and would much prefer to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.
“We have already requested that the Turf Club join us in our endeavour to resolve the dispute by attending the Labour Court in the interests of their employees and the horseracing public before any unnecessary damage is done to Irish horseracing’s credibility. Yet despite receiving funds from Irish taxpayers, the Turf Club is refusing to use the state machinery for resolving industrial relations disputes.”
Mandate explained that the vast majority of officials in the TCOA will see an approximate 36.5% cut in income if the Turf Club plans go ahead. This is despite the fact that funding for the organisation has only reduced by about 19% according to the Turf Clubs Chief Executive, Denis Egan’s own figures. The officials claim that this is disproportionate to cutbacks imposed or agreed with other sectors of the organisation.
Ms Kane said, “You simply cannot go about business in the way that the Turf Club have. They have already unilaterally imposed income cuts on our members and are now attempting to impose further cuts which will have a devastating effect, not only on our members and their families standards of living, but also on the integrity of the horseracing industry in Ireland.
“We have stated previously that while we accept that cost cutting measures may be necessary, we are opposed to the manner in which the Turf Club has gone about this. They haven’t engaged meaningfully in negotiations and have attempted, over several years, to deteriorate the terms and conditions of their employees without agreement with the officials or their union,” said Ms Kane.
Mandate also explained that they had tabled their own set of cost cutting plans at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) which would have delivered another 10.5% of savings on top of income cuts the officials have already experienced during 2008 and 2009 – approximately 10 -15%. According to Ms Kane, these proposals were rejected by management “and it would seem that the Turf Club would prefer to force their employees to strike rather than try to reach an amicable agreement.”

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