Sunday 22 January 2017

RTE will lose star-pay savings by restoring increases to staff

Anne-Marie Walsh and Ken Sweeney

Published 11/06/2011 | 05:00

THE savings made by RTE in slashing the pay of its biggest stars will be wiped out when it restores wage increases to general staff within weeks.

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Director general Noel Curran has promised to cut the salaries of the top earners at the broadcaster by 30pc by 2013.

However, the 30pc reduction includes voluntary pay cuts of 10pc taken by staff in 2009.

The fees paid to self-employed stars, including Pat Kenny, Ryan Tubridy and Joe Duffy, will drop by 30pc on their 2008 peak, as management renegotiates contracts as they come up for renewal over the next two-and-a-half years.

The station will eventually save an estimated €1m a year in wages but the full benefit will not be achieved until 2013, when the last of the current contracts are renegotiated.

The move will save a low six -figure sum this year.

But the savings are set to be largely -- if not completely -- eliminated if RTE begins paying increments to 600 directly employed staff in a few weeks, as it is expected to do. The increments are worth €800,000.

RTE had frozen the salary scale increases at the start of the year but an in-house industrial relations tribunal recently recommended it start paying them again.

Although it is not legally-bound by the recommendation, RTE usually upholds the tribunal's decisions and is expected to make a decision to pay the increments by the end of the month.

Even if it slashes the stars' pay and refuses to pay the increments, neither measure would make a huge dent in the station's predicted €30m deficit this year.

It also hopes to cut costs by seeking up to 70 voluntary redundancies, although the saving is unclear as it still has to agree with unions the redundancy package it will offer staff.

Reduce

Presenters were shocked yesterday after they learned that the latest cost-cutting measures would severely reduce their pay.

The station's best known names were told they could expect "public comment" from Mr Curran on their salaries prior to yesterday.

However, they were unaware of the extent of wage cuts facing them. Mr Curran said that an undertaking was given in 2009 to slash fees paid to RTE's top earners by 30pc as their contracts came up for renewal.

RTE declined to release salary figures for 2009 or 2010, or say whether the top earners had changed.

A spokesman said the information could not be disclosed until later this year for commercial reasons.

The station also declined to reveal if senior management staff were now among those in the top 10 earners in Montrose -- and therefore among those facing the 30pc cut.

It is unclear whether Mr Curran may himself appear in the station's next list of its top 10 earners.

When he took up the position of director general last February, his basic salary of €250,000 was €11,000 less than his predecessor, Cathal Goan.

This followed the announcement of a €250,000 cap on public sector salaries in the last Budget.

Pat Kenny said he had no comment to make when he was contacted yesterday, while Joe Duffy and Ryan Tubridy did not returns calls made to them.

Irish Independent

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