Unions condemn freeze on increments for staff at RTÉ

Overall talks on cost containment at RTÉ are suspended over coronavirus outbreak

Unions representing staff at RTÉ have strongly condemned moves by management to unilaterally freeze the payment of incremental pay rises to nearly 500 staff at the broadcaster.

The RTÉ Trade Union Group (TUG) said it was unacceptable that staff who had not yet reached the top of their pay scale would be affected “at a time when management continues to refuse to address the culture of excessive pay at certain levels within the organisation”.

The ending of the payment of increments for 491 staff at RTÉ was confirmed as overall talks on cost reductions at the broadcaster were suspended for the moment to facilitate management dealing with the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The TUG said it was “shocked to be told that despite the suspension of talks, one measure involving lower-paid workers is to be imposed unilaterally despite objections from trade union representatives”.

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The chairwoman of the TUG Shirley Bradshaw said on Tuesday: "We are deeply disappointed at management's intransigence at a time when the Trade Union Group has been engaged in constructive negotiations aimed at achieving fair and equitable cost saving measures. The move announced today will hit one section of workers, undoing weeks of positive negotiations and throwing into doubt the entire process.

“Increments form part of contracts of employment. [A total of] 491 people would be affected by the proposed suspension. It is unacceptable to the TUG that the lower-paid workers who have not reached the top of their scale would have a pay cut enforced, at a time when management continues to refuse to address the culture of excessive pay at certain levels within the organisation.”

RTÉ has been approached for comment on the TUG statement.

RTÉ said in November that it wanted to reduce its workforce by 200 as one of a series of measures to tackle a financial crisis and reduce projected costs by €60million over the next three years.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent