Grooms restive at Caymanas Park
RACEHORSE grooms at Caymanas Park are agitating for a wage increase, restive after not having had a pay movement in three years on a disputed weekly income of $3,250 per horse, a seven-day-per-week job, grooms' president Fabian White told Racing Along.
White said that his group, the Jamaica Grooms Association, has had negotiations with three successive representatives of the United Racehorse Trainers Association of Jamaica (URTAJ) - former presidents Dale Murphy, Richard Todd, and, most recent, Robert Darby Sr.
The URTAJ is one of two bodies representing trainers at Caymanas Park, the other being the Vincent Edwards-led Jamaica Racehorse Trainers Association (JRTA), a group with which White said negotiation attempts "will go nowhere", but he hopes that they will follow suit should an agreement be reached with URTAJ.
"Negotiations started with Dale Murphy, then president of URTAJ, followed by Richie Todd. We were having good meetings with Todd, but we're now with Darby, who has a health problem, which we respect, but we need to move on. What about the other members of the executive?" White asked.
"We asked him (Darby) for a couple of meetings, but they were not held because of his health problems. We are restive because it has been three years now since we have received an increase and we are due one.
"Darby didn't deny us a meeting, but on the three occasions, he fell ill, ending up in hospital. I am worried as to why the executive body couldn't meet with us. I want to have a meeting with them. The first time, we asked for $5,000 per horse from Mr Todd, but that was rejected," White pointed out.
"Darby is sick and nobody is corresponding. It is a rigmarole right now. To me, right now, it's not going anywhere, and we can't let it go past the end of the year. We're two months away from year end," he added, pointing out that after the $5,000 per week claim was rejected, he had returned to the grooms, who said that they would settle at $4,250 per week per horse.
"It is $3,250 per horse per week, seven days per week. We said we would settle at $4,250 per horse for another two years,' said White.
However, Bernard Vincent, general secretary, URTAJ, is disputing the existing $3,250 per horse quoted by White.
"The $5,000 was unrealistic, so we said go back and do your homework. As far as I know, the fee was $3,080, not $3,250. Until Mr White presents that aspect ($4,250) on the table, I can't make a comment," he added.
"I am acting interim. Darby said he would deal with it but got sick. We have a lot of priorities on the slate, including grooms, which is being looked after and will be addressed. That's all I can say," Vincent told Racing Along. He added, "Darby could be back next week or next month, but we're dealing with the matter."