Latest: RTÉ 'preventing staff from talking publicly about gender pay gap controversy'

Update 7pm: RTÉ bosses have been accused of gagging staff who want to talk publicly about the gender pay gap controversy.

During a meeting of RTÉ National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members on Thursday it was claimed that management had refused to give permission to some of its stars to engage with the media about the ongoing debate over pay.

One presenter told the meeting she had been approached by a number of newspapers and asked to comment on the issue but when she asked for authorisation from RTE it was denied.

RTÉ did not respond to the allegation when asked for comment but Eimear Cusack, Director of Human Resources, said the company has engaged Kieran Mulvey, former director general of the Workplace Relations Commission, to provide an independent overview of a review of role and gender equality within the company.

"Based on the review he will make recommendations as appropriate. We will be finalising the terms of reference of the review over the coming days," she added.

RTÉ presenters Sharon Ní Bheoláin and Martina Fitzgerald have spoken out in the media in recent days about the gender pay gap debate.

It was claimed during the union meeting that others have since been prevented from doing so.

"People are being asked to engage and discuss an issue of public interest but are being shut down by management," a source told the Press Association.

Emma O'Kelly, a member of the NUJ's National Executive Council, said members would "welcome an atmosphere of openness and transparency in public discussion of the issues, with as little hindrance as possible".

She added: "We are grateful to, and supportive of, our colleagues who have recently spoken out in the media on these matters."

Ms O'Kelly said staff have called on the broadcaster to publish within the next fortnight a gender breakdown of pay grades and remuneration data across the corporation.

Staff also called for an independent external review to be carried out, examining gender and equality.

Attending the NUJ meeting to discuss the RTÉ gender pay gap issue was Maggie Ronayne, Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) equality committee spokesperson at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

Ms Ronayne was the force behind a national campaign to tackle discriminatory employment practices at NUIG.

The BBC was last week forced to disclose the salaries of its top presenters as part of its new royal charter agreement with the UK government.

Of the 96 names published on Wednesday, only 34 were women, sparking a row over gender pay inequality.

There have since been calls for RTÉ to publish the salaries of all its presenters.

Currently, the broadcaster reveals just its top 10 salaries on a two-year delay.

The NUJ called for an external review of employment contracts and practices at the broadcaster.

RTÉ said details of the review of role and gender equality within the company will be announced "soon".

It also said it would "bring forward" its publication of the top 10 list, with details expected "shortly", but made no mention of publishing details of salaries outside its top 10.

"As an equal opportunities employer with a close to 50/50 gender split across the organisation, RTÉ takes its obligations very seriously," added the broadcaster.

Earlier: NUJ and Siptu members working in RTÉ met at lunchtime today to discuss gender and equality issues in the organisation.

At a well attended meeting staff agreed to call on RTÉ to publish within the next fortnight a gender breakdown of pay grades and remuneration data across the corporation.

The informal meeting was called to allow staff to express their views, in advance of formal engagement by the trade unions in RTÉ.

Staff also called for an independent external review to be carried out, examining gender and equality, by a panel the composition of which would be agreed between the RTÉ Trade Union Group and RTÉ management. They stipulated that the terms of reference and scope of any such review should be agreed by both parties.

    The meeting also agreed the following statement:

    "We are grateful to, and supportive of our colleagues who have recently spoken out in the media on these matters.

    We would welcome an atmosphere of openness and transparency in public discussion of the issues, with as little hindrance as possible."


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