Tuesday 26 September 2017

Staff say refusal to publish more RTÉ salaries is 'a fob-off'

Broadcaster has no intention of releasing list on a yearly basis

RTE's Dee Forbes
RTE's Dee Forbes
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

RTÉ's assertion it cannot publish a list of employees on more than €100,000 is causing discontent among staff.

Employees are seeking more transparency at the station in the wake of the gender pay row.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten believes RTÉ should voluntarily publish salaries of presenters earning more than €100,000, but RTÉ insists this would be a beach of "privacy and data protection restrictions".

However, senior sources within the station have said citing privacy and data protection restrictions is a "cop-out" and a "fob-off to protect management".

There is now mounting pressure for RTÉ to publish the legal advice to back up its refusal to release further pay details beyond the top 10 presenters.

Last night, RTÉ declined to comment on whether it intends to publish the advice in the foreseeable future. Senior sources at the station believe that reluctance to publish details is to protect top-tier management.

Read More: Staff say refusal to publish more RTÉ salaries is 'a fob-off'

"It's complete rubbish ... It's a fob-off to protect management," said a source.

Morale at the station is believed to be low as staff await the details of the restructuring process.

At least 250 jobs will be lost through voluntary retirement and redundancy. Sources in RTÉ say there is a growing sense of unrest and uncertainty.

"Everyone is just waiting for bad news to arrive," one staff member told the Irish Independent.

"There is a huge sense of uncertainty and no one seems to know exactly what is going on.

"Everyone knows job losses are coming down the line and part of the lot is being sold off, but we all seem to be in the dark about detail," the source added.

Last night, RTÉ reiterated that it had no intention of publishing the annual salaries of its top talent on a yearly basis, despite calls from Government officials to do otherwise.

RTÉ defended the decision, saying a two-year gap "retains competitiveness" within Ireland's media industry.

A spokesperson said: "Unlike the BBC, RTÉ is a dual-funded organisation and is required to generate substantial commercial revenue to run services.

"The figures therefore have a commercial sensitivity, and the gap is to ensure RTÉ retains competitiveness."

Director general Dee Forbes said earlier in the week that "RTÉ has maintained its commitment to reduce these earnings by 30pc as compared to 2008 levels".

"This will continue to be an area of focus for me, as I look to reduce costs across the organisation," she said.

This week, RTÉ published a list of the top 10 earning presenters at the station, seven of whom were male.

RTÉ group commercial director Willie O'Reilly said disparity in wages could be down to a variety of factors, including variations in programme commitments, broadcast hours, and audience numbers.He stressed that all starting salaries at RTÉ are gender neutral but "once you go in front of the microphone - all that changes".

RTÉ is currently conducting a review of pay and gender equality across the organisation.

The broadcaster said that the fees for 2015 present a 34pc reduction compared with fees earned in 2008.

Irish Independent

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