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Grooms – A View From Afar

I can understand why Grooms have had enough

I am a UK based owner and breeder and the way I understand what has happened with the Grooms strike, and before anyone jumps to conclusions, one should get the background as to why this has happened.

Ross writes in the Sporting Post mailbag  that when Phumelela was started there was R18 mill set aside for the Highveld Racing Development Fund and of that R18 million., R17.5 million was set aside for the improvement of Grooms accommodation.

Instead of using this money to improve the grooms accommodation Phumelela took the R18 million and paid this as a dividend to its shareholders. Therefore there has been no money spent on the improvement of the Grooms accommodation.

The Grooms have been chasing this money for nearly 20 years now and when the recent Public Protectors report came out, she announced that Phumelela ad acted illegally and she said that this money should be paid to the Grooms plus interest.

Naturally 20 years of interest on R17.5 million now stands at +/-R60 mill.

Phumelela  have tried to have the report taken to court and have it overturned to avoid having to pay this money.

Naturally the Grooms have had enough with the delaying tactics.

Grooms are sleeping 5 people to a room, 20 people sharing a bathroom – I can understand why they have had enough with Phumelela!

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16 comments on “Grooms – A View From Afar

  1. Warren says:

    If that’s the reason so be it, take it to the courts.

    Why should us as owners be subjected to the grooms demands. I for one pay stable fees and it’s up to the stable to pay grooms wages. Don’t and will never understand the way south Africans think. If we don’t get what we think we intitled to we strike and damage property.

    As a owner I will not invest in another horse in this country. The financial outlay is huge, and to invest in a failing industry would be very careless.

  2. jai says:

    pumelela are a bunch of (*edited) .the industry is the way it is because they and the nha need to get the act together.
    poor grooms !. who are the live wire of the industry which these operating idiots cannot see. the grooms should behave in this manner for a simple reason i do not believe that trainers and the racing operators provide the following.

    1.the mimimun wage required that the labour act calls for
    2.work contracts provided by the employer
    3.uif and paye that is due to them
    4.last but not least the proper health and safety requirements thats needed .
    these grooms work with horses that weigh in axcess of 500kg .

    i wish the dept of labour investigate all racing and training centers in south africa to ensure the well being of the grooms.
    how can one invest in a stable when the stables dont meet the minimum business requirements.
    if owners feel this is uncalled for then owners must groom their own horses.

  3. Mike says:

    Well said Warren…

  4. George Ellis says:

    All the do is pocket the fees and on top of it we get charged for unnecessary rubbish and still we cannot get price when our is ready to win.The trainers are at fault

  5. Pops says:

    Warren,your,—- If that’s the reason so be it, take it to the courts.Sounds very much like a famous Lady’s—“Let them eat cake.”
    And we know she knew nought about the situation.
    You say–Why should us as owners be subjected to the grooms demands.
    What are the Grooms demanding from you as an owner?
    It is wrong to damage property,but are you saying it is wrong to strike?
    And you say — Don’t and will never understand the way south Africans think.
    Take you also don’t and will never understand most of population of the world.
    Hong Kong citizens,Iranians,Americans Egyptians. Frenchies most of the world,right Warren
    Your problem should be with your trainer.Do you question him about the living conditions of his Grooms? Their wages?Their working hours?
    Start asking those questions.And not only how my R 2 mil animal is being cared for.
    When racegoers held a sit in on the course and race meeting had to be abandoned when an objection decision did not go their way,did you understand those South Africans?

  6. Sihle says:

    Warren I am shocked at your comments it smirks of typical white privelege and I am certain there are no white grooms in South African racing, the grooms are entitled to strike whether the strike is protected or not it is their constitutional right to do so your comments really lack insight

  7. master says:

    Strike you may…… But do it in a civilised manner….I love my horse racing, I live in Durban and went up to experience the Summer Cup only to be told when we got to Turffontein that we are not allowed to go in cos’ there is a strike. Apparently one of the stables in Turffontein was petrol bombed and the police had to be called in to disperse the striking grooms. Could they not have negotiated this during the week? This is not the first time that this has happened at Turffontein. It happened on the last leg of the Triple Crown as well. What was funny is that nobody knew exactly what was happening….. not even Alistair Cohen….. although he tried to do his best to keep the public informed…… All in all was a very enjoyable day……On another note well done to Ali and Nico on calling the 3200m Race… Absolutely brilliant enjoyed every moment of it….

  8. Dave says:

    Sihle is correct. It does smack of white privilege and as a result, I would think that we should be more sensitised towards the treatment of the grooms. Surely – even if one is a rampant capitalist – in this day and age humanity has grown enough to respect at least basic human dignity with concomitant living conditions etc !?

  9. Leon Smuts says:

    I don’t think that Warren mentions anything racist in his comments. Those with an agenda will disagree. What I see is a frustrated owner that supports racing and indirectly the grooms livelihood but is tired of seeing his mostly loss making hobby being disrupted by frequent strike actions. Any fair minded person will question disruptive strike action and violent protests that include property damage and threats or hints of violence to perhaps even the horses. Very few people will question legal strikes or even illegal peaceful strikes highlighting the plight of the grooms or their grievances, Orderly behaviour by strikers whether legal or illegal will mostly be supported by almost everyone as any decent person will sympathise with the plight of a poor or disadvantaged individual or group. Heavy handed police intervention is questionable but protesters also have an obligation to be peaceful and not disruptive. If owners lose the enjoyment of their involvement it will be protesters who will end up out of work which is the greatest travesty of our economic climate given that their grievances appear legitimate.

  10. Nico says:

    Many people clearly don’t understand what’s going on.. ‘just take it to court’

    The article states grooms have been chasing this money for 20 years..clearly nobodies helping them, 20 years is a long time.

    These grooms are the same guys who take care of your precious, expensive animal while you busy having a leisure life.. 20 men sharing a bathroom, 5 men living in one room.

    As an owner, your response should not be, ‘just take it to court’, don’t forget these guys did strike as a sign of their frustration and lack of assistance in getting what’s due to them, they in no way caused any violent act towards your horses or harm them in any way, above all the frustration, they do care for the horses they take care of.

    Why do they do it on a big day, well for obvious reasons.

    Instead of displaying a ‘i don’t really care about their shit’ attitude, you should understand grooms are an important part of the racing industry, with no groom to care for your horse, who will..

    Reading the above stating shareholders shared the money that’s allocated to improving grooms accommodation amongst themselves and still not seeing it as shocking amd corrupt, is also shocking.

    The wheels are coming off for Phumelela. I hope it happens sooner rather than later, please!

  11. Joe says:

    Some trainers are charging a full livery fee to the owner based on a rate of one groom per
    two horses. Unfortunately some of these grooms look after three,four or five horses. Therein lies the problem. The groom is not paid accordingly. The end result is a disgruntled groom.

  12. Art says:

    Warren is a horse owner and pays his dues to keep his horse fed and groomed .He does not see the grooms as black or white he sees them as grooms who are paid to look after his animal Why does that smack of white privilege..?The trainer determines the fees paid not the owner.Warren is also correct in that when protest action starts who gives the protestors ( grooms in this instance)the right to damage property .The courts have ruled that trade unions will in future be held responsible for damage caused by their members. If the grooms are organized and are members of a registered Trade Union then their TU should be liable for the petrol bombing of the stables as reported.When people as some of the writers here are consumed by race they lose sight of the real issue.. That issue seems to be the misappropriation of funds by Phumelela.OH!!Just a thought what if the grooms were all WHITE ?

  13. Helena says:

    Its not just the grooms
    Most of the staff working in their totes are underpaid and working ridiculous hours in unhealthy conditions and most with no security and no benefits either

  14. Phumelela is a complex organization with interconnected moving parts. This must be understood.

    We can’t have one part without the other. We stage horse race meetings at several venues throughout South Africa, we are involved in the maintenance of racetracks, training tracks and the associated facilities for racegoers.

    We provide training facilities, grooms accommodation at some of the tracks, even though grooms do not work for us but rather the trainers, and of course we provide stabling for racehorses.

    Phumelela ….more from page 16

    It’s like the movie Hangover 4

  15. Shaun says:

    It’s all about the rich who never have enough and will always steal ….poor grooms

  16. Rudyard says:

    Shame on the the SA govt whom are complicit with these wealthy owners and ungrateful trainers.Would they allow their children or family to live under those conditions.Why is it taking govt so long for reprimanding Phumelela for abusing the funds set aside for the grooms facilities.Instead they enrich their shareholders with the funds.Furthermore, the behaviour and vulgar language used by Larry Wainstein on the trainers on Summer Cup day smacks of the (*edited) he is.Amazing how he keeps this high profile job that he has already been reprimanded him.Give him the boot he deserves.

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