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Petition to stop job losses at Wakehurst Place launched

Carol Hart from the Plant Propagation and Conservation Unit at Wakehurst planting seedlings in the heritage vegetable display for the Great Seed Swap. Picture W Stuppy, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Carol Hart from the Plant Propagation and Conservation Unit at Wakehurst planting seedlings in the heritage vegetable display for the Great Seed Swap. Picture W Stuppy, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

A union has declared a decision to cut jobs at Kew Garden’s bases in London and Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath must be reversed.

Kew Gardens is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields says the GMB which represents its staff.

An appeal is now being made calling for public support to save 120 jobs under threat due to government cuts.

The union states that 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.

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.”

 

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