RTÉ denies ‘secret bonus’ claim amid ongoing pay row

RTÉ has said that there were no “secret bonuses” to staff as the row over the gender pay gap at the State broadcaster continues.

A report claimed that secret bonuses had been paid to more than 200 managers last year. However, a spokesman for the broadcaster denied the claim.

“In response to a story in this morning’s Irish Independent, RTÉ can clarify that it has not introduced ‘secret bonuses’ to RTÉ staff,” said the spokesman.

However, he did add that pay restoration had been reintroduced.

“As we have stated clearly many times previously, RTÉ introduced a series of cuts to staff pay as part of significant reform across the organisation from 2008 — 2013 which saw a reduction in operating costs of €130m.

“Pay restoration — reintroduced in 2015 — is based on binding agreements negotiated by the RTÉ Trade Union Group on behalf of RTÉ staff and followed this period of cuts to staff pay.”

The spokesman added that these “phased “payments were not “bonuses”.

“As agreed with the RTÉ Trade Union Group and as communicated to RTÉ staff in 2015, pay restoration is being introduced on a phased basis: 15% was restored on December 21, 2015; a further 42.5% was restored on December 19, 2016; additional tranches of 21.25% each were restored on June 30, 2017, and on December 18, 2017,” said the spokesman.

“Increments apply within existing salary ranges, which are below the 2009 levels.

“These payments are not bonuses. RTÉ confirms that managers have not received bonuses or general pay increases.”

The statement comes amid revelations about the pay disparity between newsreaders Sharon Ní Bheoláin and Bryan Dobson, with the female broadcaster earning approximately €80,000 less than her male colleague.

The information about the pay gap between the two colleagues became public when Ms Ní Bheoláin was asked about the matter by a journalist.

She said that while she valued her privacy, it would be “cowardly” of her not to comment considering “inequality and gender pay are key social issues in need of examination”.

Ms Ní Bheoláin’s comments received public backing from several colleagues, including political correspondent Martina Fitzgerald and education correspondent Emma O’Kelly.

After the pay disparity became the subject of publicity, the broadcaster issued a statement on Monday saying a gender equality review would take place and that the list of the top 10 earners would be published sooner than planned.

“As confirmed in our statement yesterday, RTÉ will bring forward the publication of fees paid to its top 10 most highly-paid presenters, and expects to release details shortly,” the spokesman said yesterday. “In line with our public commitment, RTÉ has been publishing details of the fees of its top ten highest earners for a number of years.

“Regarding questions about payment by gender, RTÉ has also confirmed that a review of role and gender equality across the organisation will take place, and we will announce more details of that review soon.”

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