RTÉ orchestras

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Sir, – I refer to the article “RTÉ has reduced its orchestras to a numbers game” (May 2nd), regarding the Musicians’ Union of Ireland position on the Boaden review of the orchestras, and specifically the following statement within it: “The review notes that the inclusion of musicians in the voluntary redundancy scheme was ‘sought by the players’ trade union’, the Musicians’ Union of Ireland (MUI). That places the union in the extraordinary position of having argued for the abolition of jobs in the profession it represents and thereby inevitably acting to limit its own potential membership. Downsizing the profession, reducing the membership base. I can’t get my head around the union rationale behind that.”

The Musicians’ Union of Ireland has been consistent in its approach with RTÉ regarding both the Orchestras.

We have insisted that a number of vacant seats need to be filled to return both orchestras to full strength, a point supported by the Boaden report and in line with RTÉ’s statutory obligation under the Broadcasting Act “to establish and maintain orchestras”.

Up until the current voluntary exit package, the orchestras were excluded from this process. RTÉ made the decision, not at the behest of the MUI but of its own volition, to include the orchestras on this occasion.

The MUI made it clear that any seats that become vacant as a result of members opting for the voluntary exit programme must be filled. The only savings therefore achievable will be where an individual who may be at the top of their incremental scale leaves and is replaced by an individual on a lower point of the scale, and the MUI would not object under these circumstances.

However, due cognisance would need to be taken of the impact this would have on the remaining players and the ability to continue to perform as an orchestra with increasing numbers of vacant seats. We cannot accept any further erosion of the orchestras’ strength and quality in the interim. – Yours, etc,

GRAHAM MACKEN,

Industrial Official,

SIPTU,

Liberty Hall,

Dublin 1.

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