Trainers throw support behind stable staff pay rise

Stable staff go about their duties

Stable staff: set for a pay rise from October

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By Jon Lees 8:00AM 26 AUG 2016 

TRAINERS on Thursday gave a universal welcome to a 5.5 per cent rise in minimum rates of pay for stable staff but also warned that prize-money at lower levels needed to increase to help fund the settlement.

The rise, agreed by the National Joint Council for Stable Staff (NJC), the partnership which represents stable staff and employers, will be applied across all six pay scales from October, is designed to help persuade more workers to enter and stay in the sport.

Newmarket trainer Michael Bell said: “Everyone in life wants to be paid as much as possible and the staff deserve it. Anything that can encourage people to come into the sport and work in the important roles is to be applauded.”

Andrew Balding commented: “I think it’s a good move as they are vital in everything that we do. I think they should be rewarded for the hard work they put in and I’m fully behind the decision.”

Jedd O’Keeffe agreed, saying: “It’s a very positive move. Stable staff deserve every penny they get for the work they do.”

Time off an issue

With a National Trainers Federation survey last year estimating the industry was operating with 500 fewer grooms and work-riders, the NJC also approved the formation of a working party to address the issues of time off for employees, identified as one of main barriers to recruiting and retaining staff.

Wayne Kavanagh, travelling head groom to Richard Hannon, said of the deal: “It might prove beneficial to try and get new people into the workforce but I think something needs to be done about a bit more time off rather than money. Most of those staff with families don’t see them often enough – it’s all right earning the money but if you don’t see the people you are earning it for, there is no real point.”

Lambourn trainer Paul Cole said: “I think the settlement is fantastic. Obviously you want a happy workforce and staff that can bring a family up and have time off but you do need to think about where the money is going to come to pay for it.

“I am all for it but we are not going to pay for it out of the measly earnings that the lower end of racing gets.”

Fellow trainer William Muir said: “All my staff are paid above the minimum wage in any case as I am a great believer in paying people what they deserve. But I have to say that racing has got to be careful as there is not the money around in general at this present time and a line will have to be drawn at some stage.”

Brian Ellison concurred, saying: ‘Well, it means you have to put the bills up. They need to be increasing prize-money at the same time. It can’t continue to come from one end.”

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