RTÉ increases redundancy target of 60 after scheme is oversubscribed

Broadcaster plans higher number of departures following rejection of pay cuts

RTÉ will now make ‘in excess of 60’ redundancies, after a voluntary scheme was oversubscribed. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

RTÉ will now make ‘in excess of 60’ redundancies, after a voluntary scheme was oversubscribed. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

RTÉ’s redundancy programme has been oversubscribed and the broadcaster will now seek more than the original target of 60 “voluntary exits”, it told staff on Monday.

In a message to employees, director-general Dee Forbes linked the decision to accept “in excess of 60 exits” to RTÉ trade union group members’ rejection last month of temporary pay cut proposals.

Ms Forbes said the ballot result made clear that pay cuts were “not an acceptable part of the response” to its financial challenges, but RTÉ still needed to reduce its operating costs by €60 million between 2020 and 2023.

“Notwithstanding the result of the ballot, the need for long-term sustainable cost savings has not diminished,” she wrote.

The broadcaster is still reviewing applications to the voluntary redundancy scheme, which opened earlier this year, and is expected to inform staff later this month if their application has been successful.

RTÉ, which employs more than 1,800 people, hinted that future communications with staff might not always involve the trade union group.

“It is also clear from your feedback that, in addition to the long-established channels we have for consultation and discussion, we must find a structural way to engage and communicate with the circa 50 per cent of you who are not members of representative bodies,” Ms Forbes wrote.

The broadcaster is now “actively suppressing a range of vacancies”, including those that arise in instances of retirement “where possible”, while all fixed-term contract roles are being reviewed “to assess the necessity to renew”.

Review of grades

The organisation will shortly engage “an expert partner” through a public tender to “carry out a full evaluation of staff roles and grades”, with a view to reducing its dependency on external resources and overtime.

A restructure and rationalising of its grading system was a recommendation of Kieran Mulvey’s 2017 review of gender equality at RTÉ, while Ms Forbes recently told the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) that there were 167 grades in operation across the organisation.

“While this is a complex piece of work, it is our aim to begin this process in mid-summer to complete next year,” Ms Forbes wrote in a note to staff.

RTÉ recorded a surplus in 2020 as a result of costs deferred or cancelled due to the pandemic.

Additional savings are now expected to arise following further unplanned production disruptions, sports deferrals and curtailments, and restricted activity on site in Donnybrook, Ms Forbes said, with the impact of Covid-19 persisting “longer than we had envisaged or budgeted for earlier in the year”.