Insiders say redundancies causing shortages at Wisley

RHS Wisley is believed to have lost 29 gardening staff and 27 garden centre workers after an unexpectedly large number took voluntary redundancy.

The RHS wanted to shed 80 of its 700 staff nationwide but is now looking for replacements at Wisley after too many left, according to insiders.

RHS Wisley garden curator Jim Gardiner, who has overseen 19 redundancies, has been promoted to the new role of chief curator, looking after all four RHS gardens - Wisley, Hyde Hall in Essex, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and Rosemoor in Devon. Wisley garden staff numbers are down to around 64.

The RHS also said weekend workers had to work weekdays, but many were unable to do so. One shift of 12 resigned together. "The RHS wanted flexibility. Resignations won't come up in redundancy figures but they're bad for the garden," said one worker.

"So many staff have become disillusioned, the RHS is now going to have to advertise because more have left than they wanted. Many have lost faith in the management. It's not because we don't think there should be any change but because of they way it was done."

He added: "There are weeds coming up everywhere. It's not the staff's fault. There just aren't enough of them anymore. The garden is starting to look tatty."

He said half of the staff at the £7.7m glasshouse, which opened in 2007, had been made redundant or taken voluntary redundancy. Gardeners are upset that they have to work any five days in seven and will not get weekends off or overtime, which was worth up to £800 a year.

An RHS representative said: "The RHS change programme is still ongoing and as such we are unable to comment on speculation regarding its conclusion."

She added: "While people are serving notice they might still apply for redeployment. We hope to finish this process in the next month or two and then have final figures."

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