Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Strike halts racing

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 2:00 AMOrville Clarke
Dr Graham Brown (left), president of the Jamaica Racehorse Owners Association, Caymanas Track Limited's vice-chairman Andrew Azar (right) and St Patrice Ennis, general secretary of the Union of Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Personnel in discussion following a workers meeting at Caymanas Park yesterday afternoon.
Empty stands at Caymanas Park yesterday as strike action by unionised workers forced a shutdown of racing.
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The 10-race programme scheduled for Caymanas Park yesterday had to be abandoned following strike action by unionised workers of Caymanas Track Limited (CTL).

The workers claimed that the action was taken because of the failure of the promoting company to sign off on phase two of a reclassification exercise.

More than 150 workers represented by the Union of Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Personnel (UTASP) took industrial action minutes after 5 p.m. on Thursday. Normality returned on Friday, but following a lengthy meeting between UTASP general secretary St Patrice Ennis and the management of CTL, the workers resumed their protest. A second meeting with the CTL management late into Friday night failed to resolve the issue.

This not only resulted in yesterday's shutdown, but the February 10 holiday meet, featuring the Ash Wednesday Trophy, also hangs in the balance unless there is a breakthrough by Monday, noted CTL's racing secretary Denzil Miller Jr.

According to Ennis, the workers representing all categories were asked to hold strain last November to ensure that the two major races on the calendar, the November 14 Superstakes and the inaugural staging of the rich Diamond Mile on December 5, were run.

"But we waited more than six weeks after for a response from CTL and had to force their hand by taking industrial action on Thursday.

"Following the back-to-back meetings on the nights of Thursday and Friday, it came down to CTL signing off on the agreement on benefits to the workers, but were told that neither Cedric Stewart, chief executive officer (CEO) of CTL, nor the company's human resource manager, Tanya Wilson, both of whom were present (along with CTL's deputy chairman Andrew Azar) had the authority to sign the document on behalf of the board," explained Ennis.

 

FIND A SOLUTION

 

With the CTL chairman Chris Brown off the island, it is understood that Azar has been asked by the finance minister to intervene with a view of finding a solution in short order. A CTL source said it will cost the company $28 million to sign off on the deal. Efforts to contact CEO Stewart proved futile as calls to his mobile phone went to voicemail.

Meanwhile, the workers were adamant that they would stay off the job until the issue is resolved.

This was the position coming out of a meeting yesterday afternoon between Ennis and more than 50 members of staff in the grandstand at Caymanas Park. They shouted 'No racing! No racing!' in the presence of Azar on the conclusion of the meeting at 4 p.m.