The Caulfield Guineas race meeting may be hit by industrial action by ground staff.
The 47 ground staff, members of the Australian Workers Union, are set to implement a series of bans and stoppages on Saturday after rejecting a pay offer from the Melbourne Racing Club.
The AWU’s Victorian branch secretary Cesar Melhem said the action could potentially affect race meetings at other venues including the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 22 and the Victoria Derby at Flemington on October 29.
“If we’re not able to resolve it, industrial action will continue until we get a satisfactory outcome, so that could disrupt this Saturday, it could disrupt the Cox Plate, Derby Day,” Melhem told AAP on Thursday.
Asked if the Melbourne Cup might be affected, he said: “We hope we don’t get that far but there’s a possibility.”
Melbourne Racing Club CEO Alasdair Robertson said it was disappointing that ground staff had rejected a very generous pay offer of 4.2 per cent.
“It has been rejected (but) what we have done in good faith is keep that offer on the table until after the Caulfield Cup,” Robertson told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.
“Obviously it’s not an ideal situation.”
More than 30,000 people are expected at Caulfield on Saturday to watch the Group One $1 million Caulfield Guineas and Black Caviar’s bid to equal Phar Lap’s record of 14 consecutive wins in the Group Two Schillaci Stakes.
Robertson said he was confident the industrial action would not disrupt the event.
“We have a number of contingencies in place, it would be inappropriate to go into details but we are confident of going ahead without any disruption whatsoever,” he said.
The industrial action relates to a pay dispute with the Melbourne Racing Club, which operates the Caulfield races, and not with the Moonee Valley Racing Club or the Victoria Racing Club at Flemington.
Melhem said the differences between the parties was not huge and the union, which was seeking 4.5 per cent a year on a compounding basis, was happy to have further discussions to avoid the stoppages, even this Saturday.