Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said that any redundancy packages offered by RTÉ must be in line with public service norms.
After reports that some RTÉ staff could be offered redundancy of eight weeks pay per year of service, Mr Donohoe told reporters that the RTÉ offer would have to be “consistent with what has been offered elsewhere”.
His officials later confirmed that the standard was five weeks per year of service, plus one additional weeks’ pay, up to maximum of two years’ salary.
Asked if he would veto packages he though inappropriate, Mr Donohoe said: “I think what I am saying is there are certain ways these issues are handled across the public service ... They have to be inside those parameters.”
In response to questions, the Department of Public Expenditure later confirmed that the standard in the public service was:
“Three weeks pay per year of actual service, plus statutory entitlement under the Redundancy Payments Acts (ie 2 weeks pay per year of service plus 1 additional weeks pay) totalling 5 weeks’ pay per year of service plus one additional weeks pay.”
Following reports of potentially large redundancy packages at RTÉ, Mr Donohoe said that redundancy plans at RTÉ is “mostly” a matter for the station’s management, but added, “of course I’ll have to have a look at the packages that they are proposing and make sure they are consistent with how similar issues have been handled elsewhere in the public service”.
“But those packages have not been brought to me. I don’t think we’re at that point yet. There’s a few more months of engagement ... but I understandably would want to make sure that what is on offer in one part of our public service is consistent with what has been offered elsewhere.”
The five weeks per year standard is also less than previous redundancy packages offered at RTÉ, which were at six weeks per year of service.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Media Catherine Martin has said that all staff in RTÉ will have to be treated equally in relation to the terms of any voluntary redundancy scheme on offer.
She suggested that a two-tier arrangement with more generous terms for higher earners, to encourage them to leave the broadcaster, would be unlikely to be permitted.
Speaking on a visit to New York on Monday she said any new voluntary redundancy scheme for RTÉ personnel would have to receive the approval of both her department and the Department of Public Expenditure.
“I would envisage equality and fairness would have to be (included in the scheme) for all staff that all staff are treated equally. "
“The same terms and conditions would have to apply regardless of grade, seniority or salary. So that’s what I would envisage. And we have to engage with RTÉ and they would bring it forward. But that’s what we would expect.”
Separately, Mr Donohoe accused Sinn Féin of speaking “with a forked tongue”, promising change to some people while reassuring others that “everything will continue as normal”.
Mr Donohoe echoed criticisms of Sinn Féin by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the weekend.
“Sinn Féin needs to spell out how they would be able to fund the kind of change they’re making the case for,” he told journalists.
“But I’m hearing more and more that they’re speaking with a forked tongue with regard to this, saying to some parts of our economy, that everything will continue as normal, while they’re broadcasting to the rest of the country that they’re going to bring in radical change.”
Mr Donohoe said that tax changes made by the Government ensured that people on average incomes did not pay the higher rate of tax. “And they’ve made clear that they would not continue that.”
Mr Donohoe also asked if Irish people who were recently able to leave Gaza would have been able to do so if a Sinn Féin Government had expelled the Israeli ambassador.
In response, Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said in a statement:
“Each year, Sinn Féin has set out how we would deliver change, tackle the housing crisis and improve our health service in our annual alternative budgets, most recently last month. And we will do so again in our manifesto in advance of the next general election.
“Sinn Féin have been clear to all sections of our economy and society that we will deliver change. By tackling the housing crisis, rebuilding our health service and improving the living standards of our people.”
Mr Donohoe was speaking at the announcement of new guidelines for the treatment of whistleblowers and protected disclosures that they make.
As of December 17th, all companies with more than 50 employees will have to have in place channels for their workers to make disclosures of wrongdoing in the company.