YesCymru CEO sacked by email
The CEO of YesCymru has been sacked by email due to the “needs of the business changing”, Nation.Cymru can reveal.
Gwern Gwynfil was appointed Chief Executive of the pro Welsh independence movement in September last year. He has been responsible for the day to day running of YesCymru and for the implementation for its campaign strategy.
Nation.Cymru has obtained an email notifying Mr Gwynfil that his employment with YesCymru is being terminated.
The correspondence was sent by Director and Chair of YesCymru, Barry Parkin who states in the email that the CEO position is “no longer required”.
In the email, Mr Parkin says he had attempted to contact Mr Gwynfil by several means but did not receive a response from him.
Mr Parkin wrote: “I have contacted you to arrange a telephone meeting with you and I have also called a number of times, you [sic] but you have not picked up. I have messaged you by SMS text, WhatsApp and by email. I also had **** verbally pass you a message during your routine meeting with him this morning, but you have not called me. You are aware from my messages that the matter is urgent.
“You WhatsApp messages asking me to put all communication in writing clearly indicated that you are refusing to talk with me, therefore I regret to advise you via this unsatisfactory means of communication that your contract of employment with YesCymru Cyf is terminated effective immediately.”
The dismissal letter attached to the email states: “Dear Gwern, I am writing to confirm the company’s decision to terminate your employment due to the needs of the business changing, meaning the role of the CEO is no longer required.
“In accordance with the notice period required under your terms and conditions of employment, you are entitled to receive 3 months notice of our intention to terminate your employment. Under the circumstances, however, you are not required to work your notice period and will therefore received payment in lieu. Your last day of employment is 18th December 2023.
In the letter, Mr Parkin also states that arrangements will be made for company property to be picked up from Mr Gwynfil’s home address.
A YesCymru source told Nation.Cymru the severance pay owed to the former CEO amounts to around £20,000 and the organisation will also have to fork out legal costs.
Responding to Mr Parkin’s letter of dismissal, Mr Gwynfil said the claim that a CEO is no longer needed is “patently untrue”.
In an email he wrote: “With the organisation finally developing structure and momentum against a backdrop of strong independence polling, having a CEO to represent the organisation consistently and clearly across the whole of Wales is more imperative than ever. It is my strong belief that your action is unconstitutional.”
YesCymru describe themselves as a non party-political campaign for an independent Wales. It was first formed in 2014 and officially launched on 20 February 2016 in Cardiff. In 2022 it became a private company limited by guarantee without share capital.
Nation.Cymru understands the decision to dismiss Mr Gwynfil was not discussed with the membership.
This is despite the organisation planning an ‘Extraordinary General Meeting’ on January 13 to discuss changes to the constitution and to make it a company limited by guarantee.
A whistle-blower told Nation.Cymru that Mr Parkin does not live in Wales and is currently under investigation for a breach of YesCymru’s bylaws.
We understand that a complaints officer has been assigned to investigate the complaint but a conclusion has not yet been reached.
On Tuesday evening, Nation.Cymru received an anonymous email which stated: “When will Nation be reporting on the sacking of Gwern Gwynfil as CEO of YesCymru? The board is dysfunctional, with several complaints outstanding against members of the board.”
We also obtained a trail of almost 50 emails detailing disagreements between some directors and the CEO.
Gwern Gwynfil told Nation.Cymru: “I don’t believe it’s appropriate for five individuals to make a material decision of this scale for an organisation of thousands, even less so just four weeks before an EGM in which the opinion of the entire membership can be canvassed, but this is not the most important thing from an independence perspective.
“Over the past year YesCymru has grown in influence, built a strong and active grass roots network of groups and seen support for independence consistently grow in polling. The important thing today is that YesCymru continues to evolve, that internal elections in February are lively and contested, with candidates with vision, vigour and a real belief that independence is within our grasp.
“This evolution, to YesCymru 3.0 if you will, can set the stage for a truly transformative decade for Wales. One where YesCymru works to drive forward the independence debate and one which ends with an independent Wales. This is what YesCymru can and should be, this is what the members expect and this is what the members themselves can deliver.”
In a statement Barry Parkin said: “To ensure YesCymru’s finances remain in a healthy position, a majority of YesCymru’s Board of Directors took the responsible decision that it would be unsustainable to continue employing a CEO. Currently, most organisations are having to rationalise finances. YesCymru is a membership organisation and the Board has a responsibility to ensure that membership money is spent wisely.
“The discussion about the position of the CEO has been ongoing for the last few months, which the CEO was aware of, and it was not an easy decision to make, but sometimes we have to make hard decisions for the good of the organisation, whilst recognising that a minority of Directors may disagree with the majority decision of the Board.
“The phrase ‘sacked’, which I have heard used about the Board’s decision, implies or gives the impression that the CEO was dismissed for misconduct or inappropriate behaviour. There is nothing further from the truth. The CEO contract was terminated purely, as I have explained, for cost reasons and in accordance with the majority decision of the Board.
“On the day that the Board took the decision to terminate the contract, I made every effort to contact our CEO, Gwern Gwynfyl [sic], both by phone and by WhatsApp messages to discuss the decision, but none of my messages or calls were returned.
“Eventually, I received a WhatsApp message from Gwern asking that I put any matters that I wished to discuss in writing on a formal basis. I therefore, regrettably, had no choice but to contact Gwern via several email addresses and by WhatsApp to inform him of the decision, in accordance with the advice that we received from our HR advisors.
“The two Directors removed from the Board recently were co-opted directors. Co-opted directors are unelected and on the Board by the invitation of the Board, only for a specific reason, be this for a short or longer period. Again, it was the decision of the majority of the Board that their input was no longer required at that time.
“Regarding severance pay and other legal costs, the figures quoted bear no resemblance to the truth. Naturally YesCymru will be honouring any notice period within the CEO’s contract but, as this matter is commercially sensitive, I am not at liberty to reveal those details.
“Unfortunately, there are elements that are trying to undermine the legitimate majority decisions made by the Board of YesCymru and to personally attack individuals on the Board, which is extremely disappointing.
“Those elements will not succeed in undermining our focus, which remains to support our grassroots members, the local groups, and campaigns to continue to stimulate the growth we have seen recently in the support for Welsh Independence.”
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