RHS restructure sees body lose 131 full and part-time staff

The RHS has lost 131 staff after completing its redundancy process. Proposed compulsory redundancies fell from 62 to five as more staff than expected took voluntary redundancy.

The RHS is now recruiting 30 new staff. Head of press Lynn Beddoe said a 10 per cent reduction in payroll would equate to 80 roles from 870 staff or 759 full-time roles. This later fell to 722 through a recruitment freeze.

MPs held an adjournment debate this week after 76 signed an early day motion raising concern about the redundancies. But Beddoe said: "This is a redundant debate. What they are objecting to is finished."

She added that the restructure ended with 13 more roles being cut than the RHS originally estimated - 93 against 80.

RHS Wisley head of site James Rudoni said the restructure aimed to cut seven layers of curatorial management "and create parity across the gardens". Three new garden managers under new RHS chief curator Jim Gardiner include Colin Crosbie, best known as a BBC Gardeners' World judge.

Rudoni explained that the new managers would take a more strategic role than the old superintendents. The RHS is recruiting the other two to "manage the troops and shape the workforce", he added.

Twelve new team leader roles were designed to "try and move away from multi-layers and silo ways of working and try and make it easier to communicate not just up and down but across in teams", said Rudoni.

He added: "This could be a much more effective way of working." Four specialist roles will "move horticulturists away from management because that's not what they came into the sector for".

Unite national secretary Chris Kaufman said: "The RHS has made a pig's ear of the whole thing and cut a swathe through its staff." Kaufman is writing to RHS acting director general Gordon Seabright to request a meeting because the union has enough members to be recognised by the RHS.

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