Sunday observance

Part of Petitions – in the House of Commons at 12:27 pm on 17th February 1989.

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Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale , Mansfield 12:27 pm, 17th February 1989

He probably does not. That is all the more reason for those people to get more pay and better conditions.

My interest in polling is that it shows that 95 per cent. of betting office staff do not want the Bill. A majority of TGWU members on the stable side do not want Sunday racing. Those who do—they are in the minority, although it is a large minority—tend to be young people. They still believe that they will become top-class jockeys and come to the fore of their industry. Statistics show that to be nonsense because one new entrant in 4,000 reaches the professional rank of jockey. The SLA and TGWU, which represent both stable staff and betting office staff, are against the Bill.

Let us take an independent polling organisation. On 4 February The Racing Post reported on a survey carried out by an independent organisation, the London-based Survey Research Associates. Interviews were carried out at 52 sampling points throughout Britain on 13 and 14 January. The survey shows that 51 per cent. are in favour of Sunday racing and that 45 per cent. said that betting shops should not be open. Obviously, the people who paid for the survey wanted Sunday racing. They did not expect that 45 per cent. would not want betting shops to open.

The TGWU, which is the major trade union in the industry, whether or not Tory Members like it, has made a good statement. It is good because it does not fit the image put out by the national media, the press and people in senior positions in racing, that racing is stuck in the 1800s. It states: The TGWU is a very broadly based Trade Union having membership in virtually every industry in the country. Because of which it already has many members who are obliged to work on Sunday. For example; it is the overwhelmingly predominant Union in the Bus industry, and in many areas of manufacturing there are continuous processes which require a measure of Sunday working. In consequence there is no policy of total opposition to Sunday working within the TGWU in general, although in all sectors of the Union, the importance of Sunday as a leisure day with the requirement to minimise Sunday working is clearly recognised.In so far as the Racing Industry is concerned, Stable staff already have Sunday working as part of their contract of employment because it is necessary to provide care for the horses. Within the national agreement, there is provision for the payment of overtime, in recognition of this fact.Sunday working is kept to a minimum in order that maximum numbers of Stable staff can have a day with their families. If Sunday Racing was introduced this would change the Sunday from a minimum day of working to a full day of working and racing would be on a seven day week basis. There is a great concern for the well being and leisure time of the stable staff in this situation.As far as betting shops are concerned they are currently covered by Law which restrict their opening time to Monday to Saturday and the only real leisure day which the staff are able to spend with their family is the Sunday. Because of the very full Saturday and Bank holiday Racing programme Rest days can only be taken between Monday and Thursday, when their families are possibly at work or school etc. If the shops were allowed to open on a Sunday then in all probability they would be offered an alternative rest day also in the earliest part of the week which would seriously weaken their domestic situation still further.For this reason the TGWU has adopted a policy that it must oppose the introduction of Sunday Racing unless and until satisfactory terms and conditions to protect our members' interest are agreed with the various bodies. Because of the provisions of the national agreement for stable staff we are in a fairly strong negotiating position and are moving towards the framework of an agreement. However, in the past, efforts to secure negotiating rights with Mecca, Ladbrokes and William Hill have not been successful, therefore, the policy of the TGWU has been that we would reluctantly accept Sunday racing with on course betting but would oppose the opening of betting shops.Although some progress has now been made with Coral Racing … on the Sunday racing provisions we have not as yet reached a satisfactory conclusion. Unless or until we do reach an understanding it would be difficult to move our policy". That is very important. That is a shift from the image that some Conservative Members present of the union's approach towards the racing industry. I stand four square with my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath, who says that we should move towards the position where we can expand and, perhaps, give people the opportunity to enjoy racing on a Sunday. It is nonsense, however, to inflict it at present when we have the inadequate position in the racing industry, where the betting industry itself cannot and will not agree on proper terms, conditions and times of working for the people whom this measure would most affect.