The Portfolio Committee on Labour today met with the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss matters affecting employees in the horse-racing industry.
The matter first came to Parliament when the South African Grooms’ Association (Saga) complained to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry during public hearings on the Gambling Review Commission Report in 2011. Saga reported that its members are racially and physically abused, while their career has no growth prospects.
An investigation into the sector revealed worrying practices, including non-compliance with key legislation, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act, the Compensation for Occupational Injury and Disease Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
The committee urged the Department of Labour to continue monitoring and inspecting the horse-racing industry to ensure workers are not exploited and to avoid a repeat of the findings of the 2010 investigation.
It was reported that while other participants in the industry are registered and licensed by the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), grooms are not registered. This affects their ability to report their experiences to the NHA. The grooms also do not belong to any organised structure that can defend their employment rights.
The committee also notes reports of planned strikes tomorrow by three labour unions which threaten to close Eskom and the South African Social Security Agency, and further threats to strike by the Public Servants’ Association of South Africa.
As one of the committees responsible for labour matters in Parliament, the Portfolio Committee notes all these developments and asks the relevant stakeholders to return to the negotiation table to resolve their differences in an amicable way in the public interest.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, Lemias Mashile