Art gallery chief Tate has defended plans to cut around 200 jobs in their stores and cafes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately, at the moment the trade is too big,” Maria Balshaw told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Host Lauren Laverne asked her about the “question mark over 200 jobs at Tate Enterprises” given “no layoffs have been announced in the galleries.”
Balshaw said the company had delayed job losses “as long as possible”.
But fewer people will be needed in the commercial sector because the number of visitors is expected to remain around 50% for “quite a long time,” she said.
She told the program: “We are consulting staff about layoffs. But we used our own reserves as much as possible to preserve jobs throughout this period.
“So the staff were paid 100% throughout the lockdown, and we have delayed this consultation period as long as possible.
“We don’t want to lose staff, but we know we have to do it or the company won’t be able to trade.”
There were protests outside the Tate Modern when it, and the other Tate galleries, reopened on July 27, having been closed due to the coronavirus since March 17.
Balshaw also oversees Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. Tate Enterprises Ltd is the commercial subsidiary which handles retail, publishing and catering within the galleries.
A number of MPs voiced concerns about the cuts, saying those affected were “poorly paid and a significant number of people at risk came from the BAME community”. On Desert Island Discs, Laverne said the union representing those affected wanted Tate to intervene.
Balshaw responded, “We stepped in. We’re almost unique in that we run all of our own stores and cafes, and that means everything people experience at Tate reflects our values.
“But that means that while we are faced with 50% fewer visitors coming to our galleries for probably quite a long time, unfortunately at the moment the trade is too important because we won’t be able to open all the cafes and stores the same way. “
She promised that “as visitors come back and we get good after Covid, they [the affected workers] will have the first option to come back and work for us because we recognize the hard work they do and how precious they are to us ”.
Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 a.m. BST Sunday, then on BBC Sounds.