Sunday 24 September 2017

RTE staff face holiday cut in pay deal trade-off

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

RTE staff will lose two-and-a-half days' annual leave and have to work extra hours in a bid to save the broadcaster €1.2m.

The station is seeking the cuts as a trade-off, after it agreed to begin paying wage increments that had been halted at the start of the year.

A ballot will now be held on the deal that the Trade Union Group has recommended to the 2,000-strong workforce.

The cuts will not affect major RTE stars who are employed as contract workers.

In a message to staff, the union group said the deal "is the best outcome which could be achieved in the current circumstances".

The national broadcaster tabled the proposals in an attempt to cover its costs after agreeing to pay wage increases.

It accepted an internal tribunal's recommendation that it pay increments, worth €850,000 a year and which affect around 600 staff, as many are at the top of their pay scales.

The proposals, seen by the Irish Independent, mean most of the station's workforce will lose two-and-a-half days off in the next 12 months.

But less than 100 workers will be affected by the second part of the deal to work longer hours.

This means new rules coming into force so staff who have not been working a full 78 hours a fortnight will have to work the extra hours in future.

It is understood that the employees who will be affected work mainly in lighting, camera work and sound operations.

If they are not rostered to work a full 78 hours, the extra hours will be classified as 'standby' hours.

Management will roster them to work these standby hours at a future date.

However, the extra hours will only be paid at the basic pay rate, and there will be no overtime premium even if they are rostered at the end of a shift.

The annual leave cuts affect all staff with an annual entitlement of 23 days or more.

They will lose two-and-a-half days over the next 12 months if the deal is accepted, which can be subtracted from hours worked as "time in lieu" as well as annual leave.

Tribunal

The deal was struck by the union group with management after the internal tribunal recommended it start paying increments that had been suspended.

But the broadcaster said alternative pay savings had to be achieved so the restoration of increments effectively cost nothing.

Unions previously agreed to the suspension of increments for a 12-month period between 2009 and 2010 under a deal with management, which included a pay cut for staff.

The increments were reinstated in June last year, but management suspended them again in January and unions asked the tribunal to intervene.

The station, which faces a €30m deficit this year, has already announced plans to cut the salaries of its top earners by 30pc, and voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes.

Unions will hold meetings with staff today and tomorrow to discuss the proposals.

Irish Independent

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