Reduction of income forces staff cuts

HRI notifies staff of redundancies

Forty staff at Horticulture Research International’s East Malling and Wye sites will receive formal redundancy notices next week. Letters to “at risk” staff went out on 14 November. The East Malling (Kent) and Wye (London) redundancies are the last chapter of cuts prompted by the Government’s quinquennial review of HRI, which is suffering from a reduction in income from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Horticultural Development Council (HW, 25 September). One hundred staff will remain at the two sites. Employees receive one eightieth of their final salary per year of service, plus a lump sum of three times their pension. Chairman of the HRI shadow board of directors Hugh Lowe, who has been appointed by the East Malling Trust to guide the new organisation, said: “To meet the future needs of the horticultural, environmental and ornamental plant sectors, the new independent organisation — which will be known as East Malling Research — must concentrate on its strongest and most relevant areas of research.” The trust has drawn up a five-year plan to consolidate research areas. East Malling and Wye’s position was resolved later than the other HRI sites because its business plan had to be acceptable to DEFRA. HRI chief executive Michael Wilson, who is on the redundancy list but has accepted a job at Warwick University’s biological sciences department, said there would be no more redundancies at Wellesbourne, Kirton and Warwick University, which will take over the work of the two sites next April). He said he had “similar expectations” at East Malling and Wye: “It has been tense and stressful, but there are now opportunities for both bodies.”

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