Racehorse trainers threaten strike action at Caymanas Park over pay increase
Members of the United Racehorse Trainers' Association (URTA) yesterday voted to withhold nominations on Wednesday for this Saturday's St Leger Day race meeting at Caymanas Park over the vexed question of a purse increase.
Dale Murphy, URTA president, said stakeholders have not received a purse increase since 2009, and despite numerous proposals to Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) since November last year, they are yet to receive a favourable response from the promoting company.
Following the vote among the 40-odd trainers present, the association's secretary, Albert Chong, was directed to hand-deliver a letter after the meeting to the CEO of CTL, Cedric Stewart, informing him of their decision.
The letter emphasised that nothing less than a 20 per cent purse increase would be acceptable.
Initially, a 40 per cent purse increase was proposed by the trainers, but Murphy stated that they had become frustrated as meeting after meeting with the CTL management have failed to satisfy their requests.
"In the meantime, we are fighting for survival and we are ready to carry the fight. The time is right for a solid response," said the president.
Murphy said that following a May 29 meeting between the trainers and the management of CTL, a decision was taken by CTL on June 1 to write to Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning Horace Dalley, outlining the plight of the stakeholders.
The letter in part stated: "CTL is cognisant that the request comes at a very challenging time for the ministry; however, stakeholders in the racing industry are facing tremendous hardships, having had no increase for some time now, coupled with increasing overhead expenses, and are asking that a similar consideration be given to them for an increase in purses as was granted to the CTL staff this year."
Another meeting between Dalley and the CTL board on June 17 was scheduled to discuss the proposals, but the executive of the association said nothing tangible came out of that meeting.
The reclassification exercise between CTL, the staff, and their representatives, Union of Technical and Supervisory Personnel, cost the company $27 million.
Meanwhile, 11 horses have been confirmed for the 89th running of the season's final classic, the ISP Finance Services Limited-sponsored Jamaica St Leger over 2000 metres on Saturday.