Dozens of jobs at risk in National Trust for Scotland restructure

The charity says 79 positions are at risk of redundancy, but it is creating 63 new positions under a revamped management structure

Hill House, Helensburgh, a National Trust for Scotland property
Hill House, Helensburgh, a National Trust for Scotland property

Up to 79 jobs are at risk at the National Trust for Scotland as part of plans to move to a new management structure, the charity has announced.

The proposed changes would lead to the creation of 63 new jobs across Scotland, but would put 79 roles at risk of redundancy, the conservation charity said in a statement today.

Prospect, the union representing NTS workers, said it was seriously disappointed by the plans, which it said would lead to people doing the same jobs but for less money.

NTS employs about 557 full-time, year-round employees as well as 580 seasonal employees and 135 casual workers.

The latest move is part of what the charity described as "a significant restructure" of the trust that began in 2016, when 142 jobs were at risk and 90 were actually lost.

The charity said the changes had been driven by newly created devolved divisions led by regional general managers, and were part of continuing plans to improve the trust’s visitor services and free up funding for conservation projects.

The charity, which had an income of £50.4m in the year to 28 February 2017 and spending of £54.6m, said its membership had grown to a record 380,000 members in the past two years, and visitor numbers had grown for three years running.

In a statement, NTS said the restructure would result in day-to-day leadership and administration being concentrated in the hands of operational managers and business support teams, with staff based at the charity’s 129 properties "concentrating on delivering improved visitor experiences and interpretation".

A spokeswoman for the charity said the at-risk jobs were spread across Scotland, as were the proposed new jobs, and no further job losses were expected.

The charity said it hoped that many of the staff affected by redundancy would apply for one of the new roles. 

But Prospect negotiations officer Ian Perth said putting so many at risk of redundancy while simultaneously creating new jobs would seem "bizarre" to front-line staff.

"At the beginning in of these changes in 2016, Simon Skinner, the NTS chief executive, clearly outlined that the trust had no intention to cut numbers at properties, and this gave comfort to our members and their families," he said. "This announcement risks eroding the trust staff can have in the pronouncements of senior management and the trustees."

He said many NTS properties were crucial parts of their rural communities, so staff reductions could be "devastating" for local economies.

"Our members are concerned that the trust properties are increasingly run with a ‘for-profit’, business-like mentality," Perth said. "While we respect that there are financial imperatives for all organisations, it should not be to the detriment of their core charitable aims and the communities they serve.’’

He said the charity should avoiding unnecessary spending on redundancy payouts and should attempt to make the changes needed through conciliation and partnership-style management.

Patrick Duffy, chief operating officer at the NTS, said: "The proposed changes mean reducing the level of administrative activities undertaken at properties, thereby focusing the teams at them much more on visitor services, quality and delivering conservation work more effectively.

"If we are to offer visitor experiences that meet today’s and tomorrow’s expectations, we need to have the right combination of skills in the teams running properties.

"In short, we have to make changes."

Duffy said the trust hoped that as many of the affected staff as possible would apply for the new roles.

A 30-day consultation with staff, union representatives and stakeholders on the proposals has begun.

The charity said it expected most of the proposals to be implemented through February and March, with some changes held back for consideration at the end of the main visitor season in September.

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