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120 Jobs Under Threat At Kew Gardens

Thursday, April 17, 2014

GMB Seek Public Support To Stop 120 Job Losses At Royal Botanic Gardens In London And Sussex Due To Funding Cuts

Cuts must be reversed to save globally important conservation and science under threat as Kew Gardens is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, is calling for public support to save 120 jobs under threat at Kew Gardens, London and at Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath, Sussex due to government cuts.

In 1983, 90 per cent of Kew’s funding came from the UK Government as grant in aid. The current amount has dropped to below 40 per cent as of this year. Funding was reduced by £0.9m in 2009-10, £1m in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5m year-on-year since then. Kew has now been told to expect further cuts of at least another £1.5m before the end of 2016.

Kew has announced that due to a £5m deficit for this year over 120 posts will be cuts. The majority of posts will be lost in the areas of science and public engagement.

A national campaign has been launched with a petition and Early Day Motion in Parliament. The petition can be found at this link. See notes to editors for wording of the petition and recent statement by Sir David Attenborough

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/globally-important-conservation-and-science-under-threat-at-royal-botanic-gardens-kew-due-to-uk-government-cuts-5m-deficit-will-lead-to-loss-of-over-120-posts

Paul Grafton GMB Regional Officer said “The aim is to save globally important conservation and science under threat. The Government is being asked to reverse the existing cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant The Royal Botanic Gardens is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science, with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields.

Never before has Kew faced such a significant threat to its future. It now needs public support to ensure its globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world.

Under the 1983 National Heritage Act, the Government committed to ensure that Kew is adequately resourced to fulfil its statutory obligations, which include: research; providing advice and education; plant-related services including quarantine; caring for world-renowned scientific collections, as national reference collections available for study; and as a resource for the public to gain knowledge and enjoy. The Government is no longer fulfilling its role to allow Kew to meet these obligations.

Kew has been dramatically increasing income from non-government funding streams through the work of their partner charity Kew Foundation, and via commercially-generated income, consultancy work, and research funding. Although there are plans to extend these efforts, they are no longer able to keep up with the rate of cuts in government funding and many areas of Kew’s work are not easily resourced externally.

The majority of posts to be cut are for people in specialist careers measured in decades of experience so Kew will lose dedicated, expert staff, and whole areas of work are likely to be halted.”

End

Contact: Paul Grafton on 07714 239092 or 020 8397 8881 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

1 Statement by Sir David Attenborough

“Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after our botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically. People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens. The Seed Bank is of world importance and it should be supported by the Government like a proper institution or university and the continuing idea that Kew Gardens is merely a playground and that you just put up the prices to look after it is a misguided assessment of the value of Kew. The Government and the scientific departments should recognise that and support it properly."

2 GMB is asking that people show support for Kew by clicking on Change.org website and signing the petition below to the UK Government.

“We, the undersigned, request that you urgently reverse existing, proposed, and further cuts to RBG Kew’s annual operating grant in aid. The globally important conservation and science that Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is responsible for is under threat due to the government cuts imposed since 2010, and the current £5M deficit will lead to loss of over 120 posts, with whole areas of expert work likely to be halted”.

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