Friday 16 November 2018

The going is heavy for Irish racing right now

The horse racing industry faces staff issues
The horse racing industry faces staff issues
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

There was consternation this week among horse-racing lovers about the switch of television rights for Irish racing to subscription channel Racing UK. Horse Racing Ireland insists the profile of racing will not suffer but thousands in rural Ireland who depend on it for a living can only hope it does not turn out to be a self-inflicted blow.

Other recent issues in the sector continue to cause concern, with the topic of the work practices "enjoyed" by stable staff to the fore.

A redefinition under employment law that saw horse-related activities fall outside of the agriculture sector has potentially major implications for work practices in the sector.

That redefinition effectively means that stables can no longer have workers on duty for what the Labour Court has said are excessive working hours - an issue highlighted in a report last year by employment consultant Dermot O'Loughlin. Trainers have argued the redefinition should never have happened. The curtailment on the long hours that stable staff have heretofore often worked could mean a stark choice: hire lots more workers or cut back on the number of Irish race meetings.

But why did the problematic redefinition come about? Labour Court documents, seen by this newspaper, show key organisations in Ireland's racing industry themselves lobbied for the change. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

Sunday Indo Business

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business