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.”
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.”