RTÉ staff reject proposed pay cuts

RTÉ staff reject proposed pay cuts

RTÉ's director general, Dee Forbes, had previously said the cuts and changes to work practices were 'necessary to return RTÉ to a sustainable financial position'.

RTÉ staff have rejected proposed pay cuts and changes to work practices designed to save the broadcaster €8.3m.

A total of 87% of those polled on whether to accept or reject them voted against the measures, which are part of a three-year cost-saving plan designed to save €60m.

The broadcaster wants to slash wages by between 3.5% and 5.35%, and reduce allowances of those earning more than €40,000 a year.

The cuts would have lasted for two years starting on May 1, but would then be restored.

Sick pay and sick leave entitlements

As well as launching a voluntary exit programme seeking 60 to 70 job cuts, RTÉ wants to slash paid sick leave entitlements and drop self-certified sick leave from five days a year to seven over two years.

RTÉ News has reported that those earning between €40,000 and €70,000 would lose up to 3.35% of their gross pay, with that figure rising for those in higher brackets. Staff earning over €100,000 would see cuts of between 4.35% and 5.35%, depending on their salaries.

Overwhelming rejection

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the RTÉ trade union group (TUG) said: “The RTÉ Trade Union Group notes the result of the ballot on the proposed RTÉ/TUG Stability Agreement with 87% against and 13% in favour.

“The proposals have been overwhelmingly rejected by members across all unions.

The clear message is that these proposals are now off the table. Staff will not accept a pay cut and RTÉ management must reflect on that reality.

“Our members have not had a general pay increase for 13 years,” the group stated. 

RTÉ will consider other options

According to RTÉ News, RTÉ is “disappointed”. It said the broadcaster will now have to consider other options as to how best to “make necessary savings while continuing to protect programming and retain jobs”.

In February this year, RTÉ director general Dee Forbes said in an email to staff that cuts were “necessary to return RTÉ to a sustainable financial position”.

She said: “I believe the measures are proportionate and fair and crucially, they reflect RTÉ’s continued commitment to the principles of protecting employment, content and output.

Immediate measures needed

“RTÉ is experiencing ongoing financial difficulties that require immediate measures to ensure our continued viability. All media is going through a period of profound change and RTÉ is no different.

“RTÉ has been running consistent annual deficits for some time. This is not sustainable. There are a number of reasons for this, the most important of which are declining commercial revenue (due to fundamental changes in media consumption) and a TV Licence system that is in need of significant reform.”

Changes planned by RTÉ

She also pointed out that, in November 2019, RTÉ had set out its Revised Strategy 2020-2024 to address challenges RTÉ faces. This strategy had, she said, a number of key components — service and content changes, commercial revenue stabilisation, reform of the TV licence system, and reductions in operating costs.

However, she warned: “We were very clear at the time that without progress on all of these areas RTÉ cannot return to a sustainable position.”

 

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