Minutes from the NASS Annual General Meeting 2017
Held on 22 August 2017 at the Key Centre, Middleham at 19h00
In attendance: Kat Edwards (NASS President), Dawn Goodfellow (Trustee NASS), Georgia Morrill (NASS Exec), Katie Nolan (NASS Exec), Jo Cody Boucher (NASS Exec) Tim Lyle (NASS RC), David Holland (NASS RC), Pete McCulloch (NASS RI), George McGrath, NASS CEO, Debbie Grey (NASS), Kevin Parsons (NASS), Sarah Fanning, (RW), 4 NASS members
1. Chair’s Opening Remarks
Kat Edwards welcomed everyone and thanked them for their attendance and introduced herself and her gave some background on her length of service to NASS.
2. Apologies for Absence
Apologies had been received from Lord R Kennedy, Baroness A Mallalieu, Laurie Bell, Louisa Allen and Richard Farmer
3. Minutes of AGM held in 2016
The Minutes from 2016 were accepted. GM explained that the AGM was moved around the country to try and engage with NASS members all over the UK which we hoped would encourage more members to attend and get involved in how NASS operates.
4. Matters arising from 2016 minutes:
GM told the attendees that the meeting in Newmarket was well attended and had been a robust one. Members had complained about the state of facilities on offer from racecourses around the UK. Arising from these complaints NASS had introduced a new system to inspect courses and had extra personnel to inspect the courses in the form of Racecourse Inspectors. These posts had been advised online and in our newsletters post the AGM and 9 NASS members has been appointed in 2016. In this time 34 courses have been inspected. These Inspectors are all from racing yards and they work to support the 2 NASS Regional Coordinators. Tim Lyle and David Holland have been with NASS for many years and have done a sterling job but they cannot get around to all the 59 courses every year.
GM admitted that we have had some teething problems with the new inspectors, mainly that they do not always notify NASS that they are conducting an inspection and often they seem to accept anything just better than appalling as being acceptable for racing staff. GM reported that the 2 RC’s keep pushing for hotel standard facilities for all travelling staff. Although this may not be attainable at every course, for varying reasons, it is a standard we should be aiming for. The accommodation at many courses simply is not good enough. NASS will compile a report once the full year had been completed to ascertain what the main issues are from the all courses inspected and where we most need to direct our efforts in the forthcoming 2017/18 season. NASS hopes this report will assist the Clerks of the Course who generally agree with us regarding standards but don’t have sufficient material to put pressure on their board/management teams to institute real, noticeable change and NASS needs to address this with the people who hold the purse strings.
GM also pointed out that it is a source of frustration for NASS that members complain about the course amongst each other but seldom raise their grievances directly with us. Complaints hold much more weight and we can have a more co-ordinated approach if these are addressed through NASS.
DH reiterated GM’s points. TL suggested that all RCs and RIs meet to discuss the report once it has been compiled and get an agenda together which would help us push for improvements, GM pointed out that with the RIs being travelling staff in racing it is difficult to get everyone in the same place at one time to discuss this. Paddy addressed the poor conditions at Epsom, no hot water has been available in the ladies’ showers for the past 2 years for the Derby meeting. TL agreed that conditions at Epsom are appalling and is of the opinion that the accommodation should be pulled down. PM suggested we publicly name and shame those courses which do not meet our standards. TL pointed out that this works for a short while but alienates the courses and we want to try and bring them along with us and perhaps highlighting the courses which do an exemplary job and asking the others how they compare to such standards would be a better approach. DH said that many courses have made significant improvements from the pressure put on them by NASS such as Newbury, Doncaster, Catterick and Thirsk.
Other matters arising:
Newmarket had highlighted the lack of medical assistance on the Newmarket gallops and from this 2 Heath Men with fully equipped vehicles have been put in place. GM had asked around the country but no other geographical area felt they needed similar support, Paddy said that the care and support they received in Middleham was excellent. This was echoed by Jo Cody Boucher, Georgia Morrill and Katie Nolan as being the same for their area. GM stated that when calling in a fall to 999 staff should always use the words “a fall from height and at speed” as this triggers the swiftest response time for the ambulances.
D Goodfellow said that from a jockey’s perspective if they have an accident at the racecourse the course is duty bound to notify the IJF. The same does not apply for racing staff. She requested that if someone falls on the gallops that the yard notify Racing Welfare as they can the support the injured person immediately, whether this is hospital visiting, getting clothes and bag for them to the hospital, following up with their families (particularly when young staff are living away from home), arrange physio etc. D Grey suggested NASS puts this request on FB and our website and that RW communicate this to all trainers.
GM raised the idea that NASS has had a quick look at using QR codes on helmets. This has been a cursory glance so is not in any formal stages. He explained that the idea is that every helmet will have a sticker on it which the medics can scan with their phones, if someone suffers a fall on the gallops it would bring up any medical issues e.g. allergies, pregnancy etc. as well as next of kin. The people in attendance thought this would be a good idea.
5. Chief Executive’s Annual Report:
GM presented his annual report to the audience. He opened by outlining the strategic objectives of NASS as follows:
1) To ensure that NASS is represented fully on all issues concerning staff with particular attention paid to the welfare of the staff and their economic well begin.
2) To continue to improve the facilities they encounter when going racing as well as the standards, including overnight accommodation.
3) To deliver an improved package for all those working in racing from the wages they may expect to earn to the working pattern of their lives.
4) To work with the other stakeholders to secure the economic future of British racing for all those that work within it.
5) To represent you in the ongoing discussions regarding the distribution of the off-shore capture (4th to 8th get £350)
6) To represent our members in the regulation and rules of the racing industry, drug testing for example.
7) To ensure adequate support is available to all those that need it from welfare to education, from the first day of work to the day you breathe your last, induction to retired racing pass and pension advice.
8) To continue to form partnerships with other organisations who may benefit the members of NASS.
GM went on to say the year of 2017 has seen historic changes to the way British Racing is funded. I say with no small measure of pride that the introduction of the replacement of the old levy system has only been made possible by the work the HG have done on behalf of, not only their own respective members, but also the racing industry as a whole.
The introduction of an of shore tax capturing the lost income (currently going directly to the bookmakers) is what will sustain our sport and hopefully allow it to grow so that all of its participants will enjoy a better way of life both in financial terms and socially.
The growth of our regional committees means that NASS has never had as much first-hand knowledge of what our members want and as such we are able to both present our findings (canteens, overtime, hours travelled etc.) to the relevant authorities and implement changes ourselves.
We will continue to benefit from the regional committees input and acknowledge the fact we still lack such a committee in Lambourn and Middleham. I would ask anyone here tonight to ask me or my colleagues if we can help Middleham join the likes of Epsom, Newmarket, the Midlands and Malton to give Middleham its rightful place at the table and strengthen NASS nationwide.
Some of the challenges that still face NASS in the immediate future are the pressure the racecourses (RCA) have put on the licenced personal to put on even more fixtures. It is no secret that we as an industry are already at breaking point in terms of staffing the race meetings which in turn puts pressure on those working in the yards. While I do not see an easy option to address the fixtures and the insatiable appetite of the betting industry to press for ever more racing, I do see a way to make it both more palatable and financially rewarding for those of us that actually put the show on the
road. That is why NASS has a meeting with the RCA and why we developed the RCIs to compliment the RCs. While there will be enhancements to the wage structure for racing staff we must continue to press for a way of life that both allows the industry to grow but at the same time allows the staff to enjoy a reasonable amount of down time and financial reward.
GM explained in real terms what NASS offers its members:
· We offer free financial advice
· We offer free legal assistance
· We negotiate for the better T&Cs for our members
· We represent our members in the work place
· We hold regular regional meetings to get feedback from our members
· We provide relevant and up to date information via our website and newsletter
· We are developing an App for NASS members
· We host a Varity of sports days for the regions, as well as competitions and quiz nights
· We represent you at BHA board level
· We represent you on the HG
· We represent you to the RCA
· We represent you at the RIABS twice yearly meeting
· We represent you in the NJC
· We engage you by calling for members to stand for regional committees of which we have 4 namely, Epsom, Newmarket, The Midlands and Malton
· We hold an AGM in the different regions in order to allow our members to address the AGM without having to travel to far.
We want Lambourn and Middleham to join us.
GM asked for discussion on the following topics:
The radical changes proposed by NASS to move away from the consolidated weekly wage to a 40-hour week.
The radical change to how you are paid when you go racing.
The possibility of mandatory drug testing
6. Financial Statement:
GM presented the 2016 accounts to the floor. Hard copies were on hand at the meeting and GM stressed that these were a matter of public record and were on the NASS website. GM explained the procedure of NASS’s accounting – the 3 degrees of separation, the AR21 form and that Trade Unions were required to have external auditors who approved the accounts on an annual basis. He stated that Moore Stephens had done a fantastic job. GM read out Laurie Bell’s report, hard copies of this report were also on hand at the meeting.
7. Any Questions on the financial statement:
TL queried the costs of legal support in the accounts as this appeared to be extremely low, GM and D Grey pointed out these were listed under member’s services.
GM raised the point of having a NASS satellite office in the Middleham area, but emphasised the difficulty in finding the right person to run the office as it was no use appointing someone who just passed queries on to Head Office. He was also adamant that the person had to come from a racing background, the floor agreed. This post has been advertised By NASS nationwide and no responses had been received. GM stated that many other organisations e.g. TBA, NTF have far fewer members to support yet have many more staff than NASS does, the point being that NASS does try and keep admin and staff costs to a minimum.
8. Approval of the Accounts:
The accounts were approved by the Executive and the NASS members who attended the meeting
9. Question and Answer Session open to all members:
GM started with the points raised on Facebook about Brexit. The short answer is that at this stage we do not know exactly what the outcome of Brexit will be for EU citizens. It is our understanding that UK will have reciprocal agreements in place with the current EU member states which will allow people living and working in the UK to remain doing so. However, until the government has decided on this and made it known to the public we cannot be 100% certain that this will be the case.
10. Any other Business:
There were no other issues, the meeting closed at 20h25