UK, National Trust lays off 1,200 employees due to crisis from Covid

In the United Kingdom, the National Trust (a kind of counterpart of the FAI) is laying off 1,200 employees due to the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wave of layoffs at the UK’s National Trust, an organization that promotes the protection and preservation of cultural heritage, also managing several properties and monuments it owns (comparing it to an Italian reality, it can be likened to FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano), including the Stourhead Estate, Waddesdon Manor, Fountains Abbey, St. Michael’s Mount Island and several others. Last Oct. 8, the association announced that more than 1,200 employees, out of a workforce of 10,000, will soon be left at home: 514 will be compulsory redundancies, and 782 instead will be voluntary redundancies. And all this because of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the National Trust’s budgets.

Back in July, the organization let it be known that a cutback in spending and staffing would be inevitable, precisely because of the blows inflicted by the coronavirus, and it let it be known that 1,200 compulsory redundancies would provide savings of 60 million pounds on the annual budget. After a consultation (as much as 14,500 pieces of feedback from employees and volunteers came to the management, the National Trust notes), the National Trust was able to reduce the compulsory redundancies by half. It was decided to retain mainly educational workers (and particularly those working with children), as well as curators. Roles were then provided in the National Trust’s workforce for energy efficiency experts in order to save on these expense chapters. Other changes affect the areas of marketing, sales, technology, and legal.

In addition to layoffs, the National Trust’s anti-Covid plan also includes savings of 41 million pounds from cuts in some expenses, such as those for missions and offices, and again those for marketing and publications (digital will replace some of the printed). Still, further savings will come from renegotiating some contracts, reducing spending on IT and technology, and introducing more efficient processes to manage some key areas. Then, several projects, with a total value of 124 million pounds, were cancelled or postponed. And the National Trust has nonetheless embarked on a major reorganization of its spending priorities, reasoning about the long-term impact of the crisis caused by Covid.

“It is with deep sadness,” said CEO Hilary McGrady, “that we have to lay off. I certainly don’t want to stop the extraordinary work done by the people at the National Trust. But our consultations went as planned. Proposals were submitted to meet our savings goals, and it was through feedback and collective intelligence that we were able to adjust our plans and get the savings we needed. It was a difficult process with some very tough choices. I want to thank everyone involved, especially those who lost their jobs, and the members and volunteers who care so passionately about the Trust.”

McGrady called the times we are living in “very painful. ”No director,“ he said, ”would want to be forced to announce layoffs, but in the face of the coronavirus we have no choice if we want to give our organization a sustainable future. We have tried all possible avenues to find resources, but, with great sadness, we have to accept that we will lose some colleagues. We will do all we can to support those who will leave us, and others who will be affected by these significant changes."

“As the UK continues its fight against coronavirus and while government restrictions remain in place,” McGrady concluded, “we will continue to open as many places as we can. The places and things the National Trust cares for serve us now more than ever, and they will continue to play an important role as our nation regains its spirit and well-being. Our focus will continue to remain the benefit we bring to people, every day. We must focus on getting out of this crisis while maintaining a strong position. Our goal is to ensure benefits to the nation we serve and to bring people close to nature, beauty and history. That was the vision of our founders 125 years ago, and that remains the vision today, untouched. To fulfill it we must adapt to the changing world around us.”

Pictured: Waddesdon Manor. Ph. Credit

UK, National Trust lays off 1,200 employees due to crisis from Covid
UK, National Trust lays off 1,200 employees due to crisis from Covid

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