Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cornelius elected by SLA

By David Ashforth - Racing Post 31st May 2007

JIM CORNELIUS, an experienced trade union official, has been elected as chief executive of the Stable Lads' Association. Cornelius, 57, will take up his full-time post on September 3 and, while fulfilling other commitments before then, will work in a part-time capacity. Cornelius defeated two ‘internal' candidates, George McGrath and Don Stacey, in an election in which 187 votes were cast, representing a turnout of about 15 per cent of registered SLA members. Viv Baldwin, the SLA's finance secretary, said: “That is actually a good turnout for this kind of election. It was a fair election and, while I am disappointed for the losing candidates, it is probably best for the SLA to have an experienced trade unionist. It is a positive result.” Jeremy Corkell, chairman of the SLA's national committee, promised his support for the new chief executive. Corkell said: “I pledged to support whoever was elected and I think Cornelius has the trade union background to help us move forward. We will be meeting on Monday, we have good office staff, and I hope we will now begin to get the respect we need from bodies in racing.” McGrath was also quick to offer his support. He said: “I am disappointed to have lost and Cornelius's lack of racing knowledge is of some concern but he is probably the right man for the job, and I will be there to help him. “If Stacey or I had been elected we would have needed to employ a consultant. That won't now be necessary so there may be funding available for an office in Lambourn.”

Cornelius, who was an official with NUPE for almost 30 years, said: “I am delighted to have been elected and look forward to working with McGrath and Stacey, and with others on the national committee to turn the organisation around. There is a lot that needs to be looked at, and we will be drawing up a list of priorities.

“One of these is the national negotiations with the NTF, which have broken down over the SLA's attempt to put forward a new memorandum of agreement to address grievances put forward by members. I have been a negotiator at national, regional and local level for many years and we will see if we can find a way forward.”

Cornelius continued: “I have read the Donoughue Report and, although I don't want to give an uneducated view, I think it is a positive and progressive document, which presented useful ways forward for the industry. It is not clear to me that all these have been picked up.”

The SLA's new leader is likely to want to approach the BHB to discuss the situation regarding the stable staff's share of prize money, about £170,000 a year.

This was formerly allocated to the SLA but is held in an escrow account until the BHB is satisfied that the SLA is equipped to manage the funds properly.

Cornelius's election, the first contested election since the SLA's formation in 1976, followed the resignation last December of Bill Adams, national secretary since 1986. ENDS


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