Union warns hundreds of jobs at risk as redundancy talks begin

Tate Enterprises, Historic Royal Palaces and Royal Collections Trust already in consultation with staff
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Rebecca Atkinson
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The Terrace Bar at Tate Modern. Hundreds of jobs are at risk in Tate's commercial arm
The Terrace Bar at Tate Modern. Hundreds of jobs are at risk in Tate's commercial arm Tate
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has warned of a number of large redundancy consultations at Tate Enterprises, Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Collections Trust.
Tate Enterprise, a commercial subsidiary that runs Tate’s retail and catering operations, has begun a collective consultation to restructure its business and staff redundancies across the gallery’s four sites.
In a statement, PCS said many of those at risk are among the lowest paid staff and more diverse teams.
“The staff in question are also those with the least redundancy rights, and Tate Enterprise has confirmed it will offer no more than statutory redundancy,” PCS said. “Leaving many staff with little more than a month’s pay before they are left jobless in a crashed economy. Not even enough money to carry them through the Universal Credit wait time.”
A spokeswoman for Tate confirmed the restructure and said it was having to make difficult decisions due to the impact that new regulations and social distancing guidelines will have on its ability to operate retail and catering outlets.
“We have reviewed our commercial operations to respond to the challenging circumstances we will be operating in and have therefore entered a period of collective consultation with Tate Enterprises staff,” she added. “Our aim is to be as supportive to these staff as is possible in the circumstances. Throughout lockdown all staff in Tate Enterprises have been paid 100% of their salaries.”
Historic Royal Palaces is also in consultations with staff and unions over its restructuring plans – which are part of its response to a projected £98m shortfall this year. The charity, which depends on visitors of 80% of its income, has introduced a voluntary redundancy scheme and informed staff that a compulsory redundancy scheme may follow.  
All staff have taken a 20% pay cut for four months (July-October) with non-furloughed staff working a four-day week. Employer pension contributions were reduced to 6.5% from 1 April.  
PCS says many of its members at HRP are considering taking voluntary redundancy amid fears that a compulsory scheme will be offered on much worse terms.
John Barnes, the chief executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said: “The closure of our six sites for three months has dealt a devastating blow to our finances, which we expect to continue for the rest of the financial year and to be compounded by the slow recovery of international tourism.
“We have taken every possible measure to secure our financial position, but we need to do more to survive in the long term. We simply have no choice but to reduce our payroll costs.”
A further consultation is starting with union members at the Royal Collection Trust, which manages the Royal Collection of the British royal family. The charity has revised its income expectations for the financial year down from £77m to about £13m as a result of the pandemic.
A spokeswoman said: “We believe that the longer-term impact of Covid-19 on tourism means we have to plan ahead to ensure we are well placed to survive in the coming years. 
"We have taken out a £22m loan to enable us to continue to operate in the near future, we need to do so with a lower cost base to recover our financial position. Inevitably this must include a reduction in staff costs, which is our greatest single expense.
“As an initial step, we will implement a pay freeze, begin a process of consultation about the reduction of employer pension contributions and offer a voluntary severance programme to employees. Once this programme has closed, we will be able to take an informed view on the requirement for any additional restructuring.”
PCS is holding a Zoom meeting with members today to discuss the plans.

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