RTÉ staff on more than €40,000 facing pay cuts

Proposal part of €60m cost-saving plan that also includes voluntary redundancies

The proposals will be subject to a ballot of members of the various unions representing staff at RTÉ. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

The proposals will be subject to a ballot of members of the various unions representing staff at RTÉ. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Staff at RTÉ are facing pay cuts of between 3.35 per cent and 5.35 per cent as well as a reduction of ten per cent in the amount it pays in allowances under a proposed new two-year cost-saving agreement with unions.

The proposals, which form part of an initiative previously announced by RTÉ to reduce its costs by €60 million over three years, also involve a new round of voluntary redundancies and changes to sick leave and new arrangements for annual leave.

RTÉ director general Dee Forbes told staff that the measures were necessary to return the broadcaster to a sustainable financial position.

The proposals will be subject to a ballot of members of the various unions representing staff at RTÉ.

The proposals would involve pay cuts being introduced on a sliding scale depending on salary Those receiving less than €40,000 per year would be exempt.

The new agreement says that those earning €45,000 per year, for example, would see their gross pay cut by €708. Those on €65,000 would experience cuts of €1,378 in their gross pay, those on €85,000 would have cuts of €2,473.

Higher earners on €250,000 per year would experience a €12,575 cut in their gross pay.

The new redundancy scheme to be announced shortly is likely to seek to reduce the workforce by about 60 staff, according to some sources.

Under changes to sick leave, which the agreement says would bring RTÉ into line with much of the public service, maximum benefits would move to:

“Six months sick pay in any 4 years.Three months at 100 per cent pay in any year with the remainder at 50 per cent pay.”

Self-certified sick leave would reduce from five days per year to seven days per two years

“As in the publics service sick pay for critical illness cases will not be affected by this proposal, namely six months full pay and six months half pay in any four years.”

If agreed in union ballots the new accord would commence from 1st May, 2021 and run until 30th April, 2023, unless otherwise agreed.

“Unless otherwise agreed, on the termination of this agreement salaries/allowances/sick pay/salary protection/annual leave and Privilege days will be restored to the level that applied immediately before the commencement of the agreement, exclusive of increments that accrued in the interim.”

‘Proportionate and fair’

Ms Forbes said: “As the RTÉ/TUG stability agreement recognises upfront, RTÉ is experiencing ongoing financial difficulties that require immediate measures to ensure our continued viability. I am very conscious that measures that affect the pay and conditions of all staff are difficult, particularly at this time. But they are necessary as part of a series of measures to return RTÉ to a sustainable financial position.

“ I believe the measures are proportionate and fair and crucially, as the Agreement states, they reflect RTÉ’s continued commitment to the principles of protecting employment, content and output.”

The group of unions at RTÉ said in a statement that while there were different views within its own negotiating team about the necessity for the proposals at this time, they represented the final position of management at the broadcaster.

The Trade Union Group said that in the negotiations it had as its priorities the maintenance of employment and altering some measures originally proposed by RTÉ .

“In the event that our members accept this proposal in an effort to secure the long term viability of the organisation and the protection of public service broadcasting, it is only one part of this essential process. It also requires RTÉ management’s commitment to working with the Trade Union Group and their constituent unions to implement significant change in how they operate while providing meaningful and secure employment and progression opportunities for all workers.”

The unions also urged the Government to provide “the necessary funding required for public service broadcasting in recognition of the essential role RTÉ has played in providing this service, in particular during the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“We also await the publication of the Commission on the Future of Media, established by Government, due in September, which has the capacity to chart the long term future for RTÉ.”

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