Even after the Stable Lads Association lowered its demand to just 1 1/2 per cent, the NTF maintained no pay rise was possible because owners were unwilling to pay higher training fees.
'Our claim was a meagre one but it was totally dismissed,' the SLA national secretary, Bill Adams, said last night. The current minimum for Grade A stable staff with seven years' service is pounds 147.26 for 40 hours. A 19-year-old outside Grade A works for a minimum of pounds 129.47.
'One reason the NTF gave for refusing a rise was that the Arabs are pulling out,' Adams said. 'But we made the point that Arab-owned horses are concentrated in relatively few yards.' The NTF suggested that pay negotiations could be re-opened in six months' time if circumstances changed.
The trainers also rejected a call for an increase in the current holiday entitlement of four weeks, and the establishment of a fixed ratio of three horses to one lad.
Adams said that lads and lasses in some yards were riding and grooming anything up to six or seven horses each. His association is to advise the 2,803 full-time and part-time staff it represents that where such abuse exists they should consider anonymously reporting their governors to the Jockey Club.