Four Cornish workers with 70 years service sacked from...

Four Cornish workers with 70 years’ service sacked from aristocratic estate

11 January 2017

Four workers at the ancient Port Eliot Estate in Cornwall, with a total of 70 years’ service, are set to lose their jobs by the end of March in a move branded as ‘modern feudalism’ by Unite, the country’s largest union.  

The union today (Wednesday 11 January) called on the trustees of the 6,000 acre estate to rescind the redundancy notices, especially as there was no written business plan to justify the sackings.

The current imbroglio followed the death of the 10th Earl of St Germans last summer when the trustees employed Savills Rural to run the estate on behalf of the late earl’s grandson and heir.

The union said that grown men had been in tears at the prospect of losing their jobs - the longest serving estate worker has 36 years employment.

Unite regional officer Nick Owen said: “The four gardening and maintenance staff, who are members of Unite, are devastated by the news dished out by Savills on 4 January that they were being made redundant. They have given 70 years’ service to the estate.

“Finding adequately paid work in Cornwall is hard at the best of times, so, unfortunately, the employment future for our members at present looks bleak. 

“The situation is given an added nasty twist by the fact that when Unite asked for a business plan to justify the dismissals, we were told: ‘There is a no written business plan’.

“The estate was running a £500,000 deficit last year, but information supplied by Savills revealed that a reduction in hours to all ‘at risk’ staff would not make up the deficit.

“The estate is employing outside contractors to do the work of those being made redundant, which will probably be more expensive in the long-run.

“The St Germans family has apparently forgotten the concept of ‘noblesse oblige’ - the unwritten obligation of people from alleged noble ancestry to act honourably and generously to others.

“We strongly suggest that the family lives up to these so-called aristocratic ideals and rescinds these cruel redundancies that smack of modern feudalism.”
The redundancies affect six workers – but two of them were not Unite members. Three Unite members will lose their jobs on 31 March and the other on 7 February.

The new year development at the estate, whose history stretches back 1,000 years, follows the death of the 10th earl in July. He was succeeded as 11th earl by his 12-year-old grandson, Albert, but trustees will manage the estate until he comes of age.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.