4 October 2000
Jobs to go in NFU restructuring

By Isabel Davies

THE National Farmers Union may move its headquarters from London as part of a massive restructuring programme which will lead to job losses.

The plans will also mean the break up its central region, staff were told late Wednesday (04 October) afternoon.

An immediate review will begin on whether to give up union offices in central London and move to less costly premises elsewhere, they were advised.

The NFU would retain only a small London presence.

NFU director general Richard Macdonald admitted the shake up would mean job cuts, but could not give figures.

Staff were told the unions central region is to be disbanded with effect from 1 January 2001.

Gloucester and Wiltshire will be incorporated into the current south west region, and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire will join the south east region.

Mr Macdonald said: “There are many pressures on the industry and often we have responded simply by adding to our long list of tasks without seeking to redraw our priorities.

“These proposals, which were drawn up at Councils request, represent a comprehensive, radical and forward-looking review, ensuring that we are able to respond to the new challenges and priorities which farmers and growers face.

“Our job is to represent members on policy issues and to restore incomes and prosperity. These changes place us in the best possible position to do that.”

Mr Macdonald said job losses would mainly be in the administrative and support functions where new technology would allow savings to be made.

But it was impossible to predict the exact number of potential redundancies because staff would in many cases be re-deployed to other areas of the NFU.

Mr Macdonald stressed that despite a net reduction is staff numbers the proposals would enable the union to do a better job for its members.

“That is the over-riding priority and the basis for these proposals — to maintain and, where possible, improve the quality of service to farmers and growers,” he said.

As part of the shake-up the union will also redesignate policy advisors to an allocated county or counties to give a greater priority to working at a local level.

It is understood the lease on the exiting offices is up for renewal and if the union is to stay they will be looking at a significant price hike.