Rupert Arnold: “Racing is dealing with a shortage of skilled staff”
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tom Collins 12:59PM 24 AUG 2016
THE National Joint Council for Stable Staff (NJC) has granted British stable staff a pay increase of 5.5 per cent in minimum rates for all six current pay scales, which is due to take effect from October 1.
The agreement will cover the whole workforce, from junior stable staff to long-serving members of the team, in a change that will reward a section of the industry that has seen their numbers dwindle in recent years.
The NJC has also approved the formation of a working party that will consist of officers from both the National Association of Stable Staff (NASS) and the National Trainers’ Federation (NTF), as well as trainers and employees.
The working party will address the issue of additional time off for employers, a problem that has been widely regarded as one of the biggest factors, alongside pay, in the lack of recruitment and retention of stable staff in the industry.
‘Real and immediate benefit’
George McGrath, NASS chief executive, said: “We are very pleased with this agreement, which immediately addresses one of the most important concerns of many stable staff and also provides a commitment to identifying ways to improve the quality of life for our hard-working members by scheduling additional time off. It is encouraging to see the NTF is supportive of measures that will attempt to address the impact on staff of weekend working.
“Because the increase we have negotiated comes at a time when interest rates are low and inflation is almost static, we hope it will be of real and immediate benefit to those whose valuable contribution to the sport is gradually becoming acknowledged in a tangible way.”
‘Widespread shortage of skilled staff’
The chief executive of the NTF, Rupert Arnold, added: “With additional benefits such as prize-money percentage and often accommodation, the full package available to stable staff is attractive. At the same time, like many other industries, racing is dealing with a widespread shortage of skilled staff so we must do what we can to draw more people in and retain them.
“We will work with NASS to see how the terms in our joint agreement can be adjusted so working hours are attractive to employees while allowing trainers to manage their business efficiently.”
A poll carried out by the NTF in 2015 suggested that racing was short of at least 500 stable staff, and in a sport that is growing year-on-year, these agreements could go a long way in instigating a resurgence of numbers in an important sector of the industry.