10,000 sign petition to prevent job losses
75 per cent of NationalTrust’s rangers are at risk
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for a halt to The National Trust for Scotland putting 75 per cent of its countryside rangers at risk of redundancy - including in Perthshire.
Across Scotland, a total of 429 posts are at risk of going.
NTS, Scotland’s largest conservation charity and one of the biggest employers of countryside rangers, manages over 76,000 hectares of countryside, including Ben Lawers, The Hermitage and Killiecrankie in Perthshire.
A change.org petition wants government to step in and stop the jobs cull which the petition claims will put management and safeguarding of these precious landscapes and their wildlife at risk.
All NTS properties closed and commercial activities were suspended in March, meaning the projections for the trust’s finances are potentially catastrophic.
Due to the loss of the visitor peak season, travel trade, holiday rents and admissions and commercial sales, it predicts that half of its expected income has been wiped out, and it is losing many more members than are being replaced by new applications.
A statement on the NTS website explained: “As a direct result of the coronavirus crisis we expect to lose £28 million of income this year, in addition to the combined loss of £46 million of investment income and value due to declining stock market conditions.”
NTS has tried to respond by furloughing around 70 per cent of its workforce, ending temporary and fixed-term contracts and foregoing seasonal recruitment, plus cancelling £9m-worth of projects.
It has asked for financial support from the Scottish Government and grant-giving bodies and plans to sell non-heritage land and buildings in order to bring in more cash. Formal consultation began on May 15. A campaign, Save National Trust Rangers, has set up a Facebook page.
Members of the 650-strong group told the PA: “We are heartened by and extremely thankful for the incredible public support for the ‘For the Love of Nature’ petition, calling upon the National Trust for Scotland and the Scottish Government to retain ranger and ecologist jobs across the country.
“Especially in light of the UK Chancellor’s recent announcement of further economic support made available for employers with his ‘Plan for Jobs’, we sincerely hope that the NTS, the Scottish Government and the NTS’s recognised union, Prospect, can work together to minimise redundancies of these vital frontline roles, and to ensure the places entrusted to the NTS continue to be cared for by expert staff.”
Elizabeth Cheslett-Davey started the change.org petition three weeks ago and the current number of people who have signed topped 10,748 earlier this week.
She wrote: “These reserves matter. Whether it’s a getaway from the city to breathe in mountain air, a chance for the family to spot their first seal pups, or the school trip that led to your wee one’s fascination with creepy crawlies, the NTS’s reserves are a treasure for everyone to enjoy. All of this is being put at risk.”
She advises writing to local MSPs using the site www.writetothem.com/
The petition can be found at https://bit. ly/38UDmC7