SLA accept pay offer 'reluctantly'
Howard Wright reports in the Racing Post
NEW Stable Lads' Association chief executive Jim Cornelius said that he and his national committee had accepted a pay offer from the National Trainers' Federation that came into force on Monday "reluctantly".
Turmoil in the SLA, since an interim settlement in February, meant that Cornelius had less than a month from taking up the job to put together and argue his members' case for the negotiations.
Both sides said on Monday that the sequence of events had been "unfortunate" after the weekly minimum wage for racing's most experienced stable staff has gone up by two per cent, while the equivalent standard for the rest has risen in line with the national minimum wage, which for employees aged 22 and above has been increased by 3.17 per cent, to £5.52 an hour.
A statement from the national committee said: "Our negotiators were in a difficult situation, but we felt we had no alternative but to accept a pay increase which we think does not meet the needs and aspirations of our members."
The consolidated wage, including five hours' overtime, for Grade A stable staff - those with seven years' continuous service or five years' service and NVQ level 3 status - is now £280.35, from £274.69. At the other end of the scale, the equivalent for Grade D staff - 16- to 17-year-olds with NVQ1 or no qualifications is £151.30, from £146.85.
An agreement reached by the SLA and NTF has also increased the daily subsistence allowance for time worked away from the yard for up to six hours and between six and eight hours by £1 in each case, to £7 and £9 respectively.
The overnight allowance has gone up from £13 to £15, but subsistence for more than eight hours away, the Sunday racing payment and the daily allowance for racing abroad remain unchanged.
The SLA statement added: "We don't accept that this is enough to see our members through to next October, and have instructed Jim Cornelius to prepare a new claim to be presented to the NTF in the New Year, based on the old anniversary pay date of February 1.
"We will launch a campaign around this claim, and will organise members' meeting to back it up.'
Cornelius added: "This is a holding agreement, in view of this year's changes to the SLA structure. It's a fresh start for the SLA and I'm determined to go into the future armed with the best documentation and well supported by the membership.'
NTF chief executive Rupert Arnold said: "When combined with the Grade A increases earlier this year, the agreement provides a six per cent increase over 18 months, which we believe is a reasonable settlement. Recent research tells us that over 78 per cent of trainers pay above the minimum rates, and of those, at least two-thirds apply the agreed percentage increase to all their pay rates."