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As of Monday 5 October, a period of consultation has begun with affected employees. It is hoped that roles can be reduced by voluntary means, offering a voluntary exit scheme before it may be necessary to instigate compulsory redundancies.
Job losses are expected across the NML sites which include Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum and Walker Art Gallery.
Director of National Museums Liverpool, Laura Pye said:
“We have championed art, history and science, and inspired visitors in Liverpool and Merseyside for more than 160 years.
“At the beginning of this year, like so many other organisations in our sector, we could never have imagined we would be in this position. 2019 was a fantastic year for us, with more than 3 million people visiting our eight venues, and we were looking forward to building on this success with a busy year of exhibitions, events and activity.
“Then the pandemic hit, leading to the closure of our eight venues for more than three, and in some cases five months. As a charity, we rely heavily on ticket sales and commercial activities, and expect that our income will be £5.9m less than we had forecast for this year, before the pandemic. The financial implications of this vital income stream being cut without warning has impacted us greatly.
“Our museums and galleries cost approximately £27million every year to operate, in terms of physical maintenance of buildings, upkeep of collections, and the delivery of world class exhibitions, events and educational programmes. The care of our collections, ensuring they are accessible for the enjoyment and education of others is our primary purpose, our reason for being, and a loss of income to support this is detrimental to our future beyond this financial year.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have taken every step to reduce costs and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the organisation. This has included postponing exhibitions, reducing operational budgets, reopening our venues in phases, reducing our opening hours and using our reserves to stem the impact.
“We were also fortunate to benefit from emergency funding from Government to support us until the end of this financial year and took advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. This has enabled us to top up salaries of furloughed staff to 100% and retain staff during this difficult period for as long as we possibly could.
“With the furlough period coming to an end, we are sadly in a position where our commercial and charitable revenue sources are still profoundly reduced. We have reached a point where the financial implications of closure, the reduction in revenue, along with a severe downturn in tourism extending from a global to a local level, cannot be ignored if we are to survive.
“Since reopening, our July – September visitor figures across the venues we had open, reduced to approximately 17% of our usual footfall, compared with 2019 figures for this period. The related drop in income, and the knock-on effects on our financial stability over the next few years, ultimately means we face some extremely difficult choices about the size, structure and viability of some of our teams”.
The job losses will affect staff at many levels across the organisation, which comprises eight venues including the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum and Walker Art Gallery.
Laura Pye added: “Colleagues across the organisation have worked tirelessly throughout the lockdown period to look after our buildings and collections and ensure that our museums and galleries have been a source of comfort and inspiration during what has been an extremely unsettling time for everyone.
“Across the board, the team has supported us as we reopened each of our venues in a safe and COVID-secure way for our visitors, and as Director I am devastated that we find ourselves in this position. We will work closely with all our unions and affected colleagues to support them through this process and continue to be transparent during what is a very difficult time.
“We are grateful for the continued support of our visitors and supporters, all of whom are essential to our recovery.”
We are working with the unions to mitigate the impact but the number of redundancies could be up to 100 FTEs (full-time equivalents), which equates to approximately 20%. Final decisions will be made and shared once the consultation is complete
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