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RTÉ accused of imposing pay freeze as talks suspended due to coronavirus

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RTÉ has been accused of imposing a pay freeze after suspending talks on €60m cuts due to the coronavirus.

Union sources said negotiations on €60m cuts broke down today after the station indicated it would not pay annual increments.

The RTÉ Trade Union Group spoke of it “shock” at the move in a statement.

It said it came after management had suspended talks earlier “to facilitate the station’s commitment to dealing with the consequences of Covid-19”.

The unions accused management of acting “unilaterally” by refusing to pay annual increments to 491 workers.

Shirley Bradshaw of the union group said it was unacceptable that lower paid workers would have a pay cut enforced, when management “continues to refuse to address the culture of excessive pay at certain levels within the organisation”.

Union sources revealed that a proposal to cut pay for those earning over €40,000 had been close to agreement when management suspended talks.

They also claimed that management suspended talks after the group put forward a proposal that would have meant executives took bigger pay cuts. It is understood that the wage reductions put forward would have mirrored reductions imposed on public servants during the recession under emergency legislation.

“The TUG was shocked to be told that despite the suspension of talks, one measure involving lower paid workers is to be imposed unilaterally despite objections from trade union representatives,” it said in the statement.

Ms Bradshaw said the group is deeply disappointed at management’s “intransigence” at a time when unions had engaged in constructive talks.

She said the talks aimed to achieve fair and equitable cost saving measures.

“The move announced today will hit one section of workers, undoing weeks of positive negotiations and throwing into doubt the entire process.”

“Increments from part of contracts of employment.”

She said 491 people would be affected by the proposed suspension of increments.

“It is unacceptable to the TUG that the lower paid workers who have not reached the top of their scale would have a pay cut enforced, at a time when management continues to refuse to address the culture of excessive pay at certain levels within the organisation”.

RTÉ said in a statement that due to the financial challenges it faces, “which we have previously outlined in detail and which remain grave” it is “not in a position to give annual salary increases to any of its staff at this time”.

“RTÉ remains committed to engaging with the TUG in addressing the key challenges facing the organisation,” it said.

“However, with the Covid-19 situation developing in Ireland, RTÉ has taken the decision to pause these discussions, to allow us to focus on the continued provision of vital broadcast services, including news and information, to the Irish public, and to ensuring the welfare of our employees.”

Online Editors