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Grooms To March On Turffontein

Progressive Movement Of Grooms Appeal For Change

PMG Chairman, Victor Ndwashu

PMG Chairman, Victor Ndwashu

Victor Ndwashu, the Chairman of the Progressive Movement of Grooms (PMG), one of three existing grooms associations in South Africa, has formally announced intentions for his association members to stage a peaceful march at Turffontein on Friday, 10 March 2017 to deliver a memorandum to Phumelela CEO, Rian du Plessis.

Mr Ndwashu, a former croupier at Emperor’s Palace casino, hails from the North West town of Mafikeng and started working as a groom at Turffontein in 2012. Starting as a member of SAGA (SA Grooms Association), Mr Ndwashu chose to strike out on his own in 2015 and formed a new association which he has named Progressive Movement of Grooms (PMG). They were formally registered as an NPO in 2016.

Part of Mr Ndwashu’s duties is to represent his Association at Industry Liaison Committee meetings, held regularly at centres around the country.  According to Mr Ndwashu, Industry Liaison Committee meetings are held under the auspices of the Racing Association and chaired by the RA CEO, Mr Larry Wainstein. Mr Ndwashu says that little had been achieved, despite several years of attending Industry Liaison Meetings. He states that every time they tried to raise concerns, Mr Wainstein dismissed them. “We realised that the Liaison Committee was not working for us.”

No Confidence

In an attempt to effect change, on 31 January 2017, Mr Ndwashu issued a request to the Industry Liaison Committee asking to table a vote of no confidence in the chairman, Larry Wainstein. His request read, “On behalf of the PMG Members, We submit this Motion of No Confidence in Liaison Committee Chairperson Larry Wainstein, due to poor environment he has created, his lack of leadership, and inability to make sound decisions that affect the historically disadvantaged in the industry. PMG Members no longer have confidence in Larry Wainstein or his ability to lead from the role he was elected to perform.

Although the motion was tabled at the 6 February 2017 Industry Liaison Meeting, Mr Ndwashu could find no-one to second his proposal and it was dismissed, after which he left the meeting.  He feels that grooms now have no alternative but to appeal directly to Rian du Plessis, the CEO of Phumelela, in order to have their concerns heard.

Accordingly, PMG have obtained permission both from Mr du Plessis and local law enforcement officials to stage a peaceful march at Turffontein on Friday, 10 March 2017. The group will assemble at the lapa next to the stable area at 11am and at 12o’clock will begin to make their way along Turf Club Road.  The march will finish at the workshop building at Phumelela’s Turffontein head offices where they will hand over a memorandum.  Mr Ndwashu says their memorandum addresses matters of grooms’ basic conditions of employment as well as issues of transformation and development.

Asked what he hoped to achieve, Mr Ndwashu points out that although grooms are employed by trainers, their place of work belongs to the Operator, Phumelela.  “We are hoping Mr du Plessis will sit down around a table with us to find an amicable solution to our problems. We as grooms are not going anywhere and we need a solution.”

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9 comments on “Grooms To March On Turffontein

  1. Ralph Fell. says:

    Mr. Ndwashu will find Larry at a tote window taking a R400 quartet, or having a R300 strike with a Betting World clerk. That’s his priority.

  2. Brett Maselle says:

    I am not sure that it is correct to say that Larry Wainstein was elected as Chairman of the Liaison Committee. I thought that he was appointed by the Western Cape Racing and Phumelela.

    The following people were part of the Industry Liason Committee meeting held on 6 February 2016 at Kenilworth racecourse:-

    Larry Wainstein (Chair) CEO Racing Association Robert Bloomberg Director Kenilworth Racing & WPRRA
    Vidrik Thurling Director Kenilworth Racing & Chairman WPRRA
    Vaughan Marshall Director WPRRA / Trainers Representative – Milnerton
    Justin Vermaak Director, WPRRA
    Rian Du Plessis CEO Phumelela
    Vee Moodley Betting Executive Phumelela
    Clyde Basel Racing & Hospitality Executive Phumelela
    Neville Harbott Health and Safety Officer, PGL
    John Stuart International Executive Director Phumelela
    Rod McCurdy Tellytrack
    Robert Garner Tellytrack
    Lyndon Barends MD, NHA
    Ken Truter Chairman, NHA
    Arnold Hyde NHA
    Greg Cheyne Jockeys Representative
    Ernie Rodrigues Chief Stipendiary Steward WC
    Dean Diedericks General Manager Kenilworth Racing
    Jonathan Snaith Trainer Representative
    Adrian Todd COO Cape Thoroughbred Sales
    MK Naidoo Sangata Representative
    Victor Ndwashu Progressive Movement of Grooms
    Stephen PMG

    The minutes parts of which are cut and paste excerpts are set out below . They make interesting reading: I have only set out details of the minutes which I believe are relevant.

    3.1 RACING OPERATIONS
    Grooms Associations
    Mr Harbott reported that a meeting had taken place where it had been agreed that there would be one single body to represent the grooms. Mr du Plessis raised the question of what has happened since those discussions as it now appeared that PMG do not want one single body. Mr Naidoo agreed that this appeared to be the case.
    Mr Basel read a precise of the discussion following the meeting:
    •The three current associations are welcome to attend the Industry Liaison Committee Meetings.
    •Additional grooms’ representatives are also welcome and must make their presence known to Mr Harbott.
    •The associations will be invited to attend monthly trainers meetings at each facility with at least 2-3 trainers to deal with grooms’ issues amongst other matters of importance.
    •The associations want to engage with each other with the intention of forming one united voice for grooms.

    Mr Basel said that as a result of what was said at the outset of this meeting, no notice should be taken of the letter submitted by Mr Ndwashu (vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the ILC). Clearly this is a personal attack and is not supported by other role-players in the ILC.

    Mr du Plessis said that PGL could no longer be involved in the issues relating to grooms as it was impacting negatively on the industry. PGL need to be recognized purely as landlords with no jurisdiction over grooms. He said that agreement needs to be reached with the trainers. In his opinion, it was totally unacceptable for meetings to be convened with grooms and decisions taken without trainer representatives being part of the decision making process. He said that government disapproved of the industry due to the fact that the grooms do not have a voice and that PGL as license holders, were receiving the brunt of their disapproval. This entire matter has been a public relations disaster.

    Mr Marshall said he took exception to Mr du Plessis’ comments as it now appeared that the trainers are solely to blame for the plight of grooms.

    The Chairman recapped and said that government had approached PGL and the RA to ask that a voice be given to the grooms. He said that the problem is that the grooms in Gauteng want to be paid to sit on the committee. The RA is not prepared to remunerate anyone to attend the meeting.
    Mr Naidoo said that in his opinion, the problem was that we allowed the third association on board. The Chairman responded that we cannot dictate terms and tell the grooms that they could not have a third association or whether they had to be a member of any association.

    Mr Barends said firstly we should not have had the grooms on this forum. He recommended that we have all three committees as opposed to one. They could form a sub-committee of about 3 people who can report back to the main ILC. Mr du Plessis said he supported this proposal with the proviso that trainers must be part of the subcommittee. The meeting unanimously agreed.

    Messrs.’ Basel and Harbott were requested to speak to trainers, the associations and DTI and Mr Mashiamate in order to get this process up and running. Mr du Plessis pointed out that the concept should have the support of the Minister before we proceed with anything.

    The Chairman requested Mrs. Parker to print the demanding emails that had been received from Mr Ndwashu and circulate these to members of the ILC.

    3.2 RACING ASSOCIATION
    Sectional Timing
    Mr Wainstein said that a lot of data had been captured at the Vaal, Turffontein and Kimberley. A few problems had been experienced, mainly with the Velcro on the saddle cloths but these were being sorted out would be up and running perfectly within a week. Only minor teething problems were still being dealt with. Mr Basel supported these comments.
    The Chairman said that he would be meeting with publishing regarding the use of the data and how it should be disseminated. NHA will also be involved in discussions.
    The Chairman confirmed that the jockeys are being informed when testing is taking place. In response to a question, he said that Equimotion manage the running of sectional timing.

    Viewing of delayed racing by overseas viewers on RA Website
    The Chairman said that there had been a problem with the bandwidth for overseas viewing. He had taken this matter up with Rob Scott who was dealing with the problem. He pointed out that there is a delay in the race being displayed due to the fact that bookmakers were gaining free access to the picture for betting purposes. The decision for the slight delay of racing was taken to prevent bucket shops overseas.
    Mrs. Parker was asked to remove this item from the agenda.

    World Sports Betting Advertising
    The Chairman said that he had sent a number of e-mails to Messrs.’ Moodley and Scott. He said that World Sports Betting is a prominent sponsor and they do not do the tote any favours by advertising their open bet. He requested that this matter be addressed with them as a matter of urgency. Mr du Plessis said that this matter had been addressed at PGL and Kenilworth Board meetings. He said that PGL had been advised that we cannot refuse their advertising due to a competition commission ruling. However, we can ask them not to advertise the open bet when they advertise with us. Mr Stuart undertook to speak to World Sports Betting in this regard.

    7.2 Debtors and defaulters
    Mr Hyde said this is difficult to control and acknowledged that the situation is untenable. He said this is like a full time position and suggested that maybe we should revert to the default rule as opposed to the blocking rule. The Chairman suggested that a possible solution to this problem was to establish a department in an attempt to alleviate the issue of bad debts throughout the industry.

    7.3 Jockeys Suspensions
    Mr Bloomberg enquired that the NHA relook at when they hold their enquiries and review board as some jockeys serve no suspension at all as they only race in Western Cape. Mr Barends said the NHA is aware of this and is looking at this matter.

    14.2 Gate Fees
    Mr Basel said that gate fees would be charged at meetings going forward. Research was being carried out as regards the cost of this exercise. The purpose was to make attendance at race meetings aspirational. Patrons would be given a betting voucher or a hospitality voucher. RA members are excluded.
    NHA badge holders are only permitted parade ring entrance but would be required to pay to come onto the racecourse.
    Mr du Plessis said that this has been agreed by the Kenilworth Board. Mr Thurling said that this had not been addressed as yet at the Kenilworth Board. Mr du Plessis undertook to bring it up at the next meeting.

    Starting times for 2017 Meetings
    Please diarize the following dates for the 2017 meetings:
    Monday 8 May at 13h00
    Monday 28 August at 13h00
    Monday 6 November at 13h00

    My comment below….
    Now that I have published this I am pretty certain that Phumelela, Western Cape Racing and the RA will try and force every person at the Industry Liaison meeting to sign confidentiality agreements. To all those that are entitled to be present, no-one can force you to sign a confidentiality agreement unless you agree to do it. Do not be intimidated. Since the majority of the industry is represented, the information cannot be confidential. There is nothing to protect. Transparency should rule the day!

    1. James George says:

      If the purpose for charging gate fees was to make attendance at race meetings aspirational.
      – aimed at or appealing to people who want to attain a higher social position or standard of living-:why are RA members excluded from paying gate fees?

  3. David says:

    Well done to you Mr Ndwashu for taking action,,, sometimes this type of action is the only way to get to the next level, I was a groom in the USA in 1985 and fully agree that the industry needs to try modernize and improve the lot of SA grooms.

    No doubt there will be bitching and screaming from certain people in the industry but I hope good comes out of your talks,, Mr du Plessis relies on his advisors in most racing situations but is very reasonable when he is directly involved as he may be here. Formgrids supports any improvements that helps better the lives of the grooms

  4. Kim Jong-in says:

    Doesn’t this sound familiar ” “On behalf of the PMG Members, We submit this Motion of No Confidence in Liaison Committee Chairperson Larry Wainstein, due to poor environment he has created, his lack of leadership, and inability to make sound decisions that affect the historically disadvantaged in the industry. PMG Members no longer have confidence in Larry Wainstein or his ability to lead from the role he was elected to perform.”
    Although the motion was tabled at the 6 February 2017 Industry Liaison Meeting, Mr Ndwashu could find no-one to
    “second” his proposal and it was dismissed, after which he left the meeting.”

    Well done Mr Ndwashu for standing your ground I am sure you have more supporters than opponents all the best for tomorrow and the future.

  5. Steve Reid says:

    Never heard of these guys but I am impressed that they are a registered NPO.

    What are the odds that SANGATA, that RA uncle Tom are not.

    I would have the maximum

  6. Gavs says:

    This sectional timing problem needs to be addressed immediately by the NHRA. LW and his benefactors are using electronic information only available to them to obtain an unfair advantage. It should be information available to all of us.

    The NHRA rules are supposed to prevent cheating and prevent anyone from obtaining an unfair advantage.

    This bs with sectional timing has to be stopped. From the minutes it looks like the NHRA is merrily dancing and holding hands with the RA as if the RA as a big sister will solve all the problems.

    We the people are entitled to have the same information as LW and his cronies. We the people keep horseracing alive. We the people demand. That the NHRA does its job.

  7. David says:

    can you back up what you are saying Gavs, ??

  8. victor ndwashu says:

    is time for change my good people let us join forces and make a change.

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