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James Hutton Institute: Leading agricultural research centre set to axe dozens of jobs

Professor Colin Campbell (chief executive of the James Hutton Institute), hosting a visit by MPs Pete Wishart and Ged Killen earlier this year.
Professor Colin Campbell (chief executive of the James Hutton Institute), hosting a visit by MPs Pete Wishart and Ged Killen earlier this year.

Dozens of workers at a world-leading agricultural research centre near Dundee have been told their jobs are at risk.

The James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie said redundancies are necessary because of “funding constraints”.

The institute, which also has offices in Aberdeen and employs around 550 people, has not specified how many posts it wants to axe. Compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out.

A spokesman said: “The James Hutton Institute is undergoing significant change in how it undertakes its science activities to address the growing need to work in ever more inter-disciplinary and collaborative ways.

“It has been reviewing its science capacity to align itself more fully with future opportunities, which includes addressing climate change, the forthcoming investment through the Tay Cities Deal and access to new funding sources.

“A revised operating model has been developed in tandem with defining a structure that is affordable to address the current funding constraints.

“Unfortunately, this requires a reduction in the number of staff positions and accordingly a programme of redundancies will be undertaken.”

He added restrictions on recruitment and voluntary redundancies would “minimise the requirement for compulsory redundancies”.

“The board and management are deeply sensitive to the impact a redundancy programme will inevitably have on staff at a personal level, the wider community, and on the work of the institute,” he said.

The institute’s headquarters were chosen as the launch venue for the Tay Cities Deal bid document in 2017.

It is in line to receive £62 million through the agreement to help fund the International Barley Hub and the Advanced Plant Growth Centre.

Trade union Prospect said it expects a “significant” number of jobs to be lost.

Negotiations officer Ian Perth said: “This will come as devastating news to scientists and support staff at the institute.

“We are very disappointed that the funding arrangements for the institute mean that the employer deems this necessary.

“In 2016, staff made a £1.7m annual contribution to the organisation’s finances by agreeing to significant pension changes and giving up their membership of the civil service defined benefit scheme.”

He added: “We have held initial discussions with the management team and have been offering robust feedback on their proposals so far.

“From our initial engagement, it is clear that the employer will make significant efforts to ensure that any redundancies are voluntary.”

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