Horseracing industry ordered to improve living conditions of grooms

06 December 2018 - 10:27 By TimesLIVE
Horse racing. File photo.
Horse racing. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Chris Van Lennep

The horseracing industry has been told to clean up its act when it comes to the living conditions of grooms employed at its facilities.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on labour says the horseracing industry needs to clean up its act when it comes to the living conditions of grooms.

Grooms are responsible for the welfare and maintenance of horses.

On Wednesday the committee met the management of horseracing and betting operator Phumelela Gaming and Leisure to discuss the working and living conditions of grooms.

This comes after the committee conducted an oversight visit to the North Rand Training Centre at the Randjesfontein racecourse in Midrand in August.

There it “discovered appalling conditions at the hostels, where four or five men shared one small room, with gas stoves for cooking located outside their rooms,” the committee said in a statement.

Phumelela representatives told the committee that the grooms' hostel facilities were leased to racehorse trainers, who were the direct employers of the grooms and  responsible for their wellbeing.

Siza Khampepe, a director at Phumelela, told the committee that it was not responsible for the grooms' living conditions.

"After a lengthy discussion with the committee, it was agreed that there were shortcomings in the living conditions of the horse grooms and action needed to be taken to address these,” said the committee.

“Phumelela also informed the committee that plans were in place to improve the living conditions.

"The committee’s main concern is to ensure that all relevant laws are complied with."

The committee told Phumelela and the grooms’ associations to work closely with racehorse trainers to resolve challenges in the industry.

It also wants the conditions of the grooms' employment to be improved, including compliance with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).