Sunday 23 September 2018

Redundancy deal will not be improved RTE warns staff amid fears workers are 'holding out'

Workforce urged to consider package on offer ahead of deadline next week, writes Samantha McCaughren

RTE director general Dee Forbes
RTE director general Dee Forbes
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

RTE has warned staff that a better redundancy package will not be offered by the company amid concerns that some staff were holding out for improved terms.

The broadcaster is seeking 250 redundancies as part of a plan to restructure the company, following losses of €20m in a worsening advertising market.

However, there are concerns among management that take-up will be lower than required and it has issued a statement to staff ahead of the deadline for applications to the scheme.

Eimear Cusack, director of HR at RTE, said in a note to staff: "As you know, both the voluntary exit and early retirement programmes close next Tuesday.

"You'll also know that the schemes form an essential part of RTE's restructuring plans as we transition to a smaller, leaner and more efficient organisation.

"We remain available to you until Tuesday close of business should you require any further information.

"A number of you have asked whether any future schemes will offer improved terms; I can confirm that they will not," she said.

In the past, improved schemes have been offered when take-up is low. But the political mood means that RTE is not in the position to revise its deal upwards.

As first revealed in this newspaper, RTE's planned redundancy scheme was seen as too generous by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which suggested it examine other public sector schemes with lesser terms.

Although the terms are tighter than previous RTE schemes, it is believed that average pay-outs will top €80,000 while the exit deals for the best-paid will run well into six figures.

It is understood that RTE defended the scheme, which is to be capped at two years' salary, arguing that it needed to make an attractive offer to employees in order to achieve the redundancy numbers it is seeking.

It is particularly targeting the over 55s, many of whom are on defined benefit pensions and are among the best paid in the organisation.

RTE would need to get well over 250 applicants to meet its targets as not all who apply will be accepted for the programme.

RTE was badly hit by the Brexit vote as a significant portion of its advertising comes from UK-based agencies. The current financial year will also deliver a deficit. The organisation will fund the redundancy programme through the sale of a portion of its Donnybrook campus in Dublin to Cairn Homes for €107.5m.

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