RTE triples its redundancy plan after 10pc of staff apply
CASH-STRAPPED RTE is to shed three times as many staff as originally planned after getting 237 redundancy applications .
Sources revealed the national broadcaster plans to let as many of the staff who expressed interest in its early retirement and voluntary redundancy packages leave as possible.
It had only sought 80 departures but the schemes were dramatically oversubscribed.
A total of 237 workers -- more than 10pc of the workforce -- indicated by a closing date earlier this month that they would consider leaving.
RTE yesterday said it would expand the scheme but did not say by how much. Director General Noel Curran said the "large response" to the voluntary schemes had given the station an opportunity to increase the number of redundancies.
Insiders revealed last night that the station, which wanted 80 workers to go by the end of November, is now planning to extend the schemes in phases up to the end of next year.
They said it is trying to assess the impact that losing workers with specific skills would have on various divisions.
But they said it was likely to allow as many as possible to take the packages as it will not need the same staff numbers due to a planned "cull" of programming.
"People still have a couple of weeks to decide whether they will go, as these are expressions of interest, but the station is talking about reducing staff by more than 200 by the end of 2012. There may be some people it can't let go because of skill sets but it will let as many as possible go," the source said.
RTE said the job cuts were essential in light of the €30m deficit facing the station this year.
The initial package was estimated to cost €10m, but the station said it believed it would recover the cost within two years and save €5m in the longer term.
Among the big names who have hinted that they may apply for the scheme are 'Nine O'Clock News' anchor Anne Doyle.
A total of five schemes are open to staff depending on their age and pension arrangements.
Staff taking voluntary redundancy will receive up to six weeks' pay per year of service, capped at 130 weeks, based on their salary before cuts in 2009.
Staff over 55 taking early retirement will receive a lump sum of up to €60,000, depending on their age, and deferred redundancy payments until retirement age.
The station is using a variety of methods to cuts its costs in a bid to break even by 2013.
It has announced plans to cut the salaries of its top earners by 30pc. The Irish Independent also revealed that staff are to lose two and a half days' annual leave over the next 12 months and work extra hours in a trade-off with unions after the station agreed to begin paying wage increments worth €850,000 a year to 600 staff.
The station's deficit stood at under €5m at the end of last year but cuts in its public funding in last year's Budget mean it faces a deficit of €30m this year.