Union urges Kew to fill vacancies with staff as 51 remain at risk

Fifty one scientists working at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew were told via email on Friday 28 November that they are now surplus to requirements.

Prospect negotiator Julie Flanagan said Kew currently has 42 science directorate vacancies. Prospect has asked Kew to fill those posts with existing Kew staff, unless internal candidates are clearly and demonstrably unable to fulfil the new roles.

Flanagan said: "Losing hundreds of years’ worth of experience by making people redundant and then recruiting 40 external staff while saying how critical Kew’s finances are just doesn’t make sense.

"We are urging Kew to let the new structure bed down before making any more redundancies," she added.

Kew said: "It is correct that 51 staff members have not been appointed to a role in the new science structure as of 1 December 2014. However, there remain 42 vacant posts in the science structure. A number of colleagues who are yet to secure posts have skills that we do not wish to lose, as such, as a next step we will have an additional round of ring-fenced recruitment which is only open to those staff members who have not been appointed at this point. Therefore, it is likely that this figure of 51 will be reduced, and fewer staff will face redundancy.

"The additional ring-fenced recruitment is part of our redeployment commitment to reduce redundancies."

Prospect is using a different baseline as their starting point for total number of scientists to Kew, which originally indicated a 125 post reduction in staff in 2014/15.

Some 200 full-time equivalent posts were in-scope (funded by Kew rather than externally) of the science restructure on 31 March 2014. There were an additional 15 full time equivalent vacancies in science that Kew froze at the start of the restructuring process

At the start of restructure Kew also had 48 project funded full time equivalent posts – however these colleagues were not considered to be in scope of the restructure as they are not funded by the core RBG Kew budget. Therefore, says Prospect, there were 248 full time equivalent posts in science if  ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ FTEs are combined.

Kew said the combined figure of ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ figure is closer to the figure that Prospect but "it is not accurate to use this combined figure as it includes a proportion of staff not affected by the restructure".

On 1 December 2014 there are 168 full time equivalent posts in the new Kew science structure so the total number of full time equivalent posts lost in Kew science at the end of the restructure is 47, with 32 posts removed during the restructure, in addition to 15 vacancies which were frozen at the start of the financial year and subsequently removed during the restructure.

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