Thursday 19 April 2018

'They are essentially doing the same job' - Pat Kenny wades into RTÉ's gender pay gap controversy

Pat Kenny was 41 years at RTÉ
Pat Kenny was 41 years at RTÉ
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Pat Kenny has waded into the controversy over RTÉ's gender pay gap and said he believes there's no justification to having men and women of equal experience on different salaries.

The former RTÉ 'Late Late Show' presenter gave his opinion on the issue and said it was a "complicated one".

"In principle, there's no reason why there should be a pay gap," he said.

"This is not like women's soccer versus the Premiership where the Premiership commands massive ratings and the other one doesn't.

"These are people who are essentially doing the same job so, generally speaking, there should be no pay gap."

Convoluted

He said that when it came to the internal pay structures in RTÉ, there was a very convoluted system in place and it wasn't a black-and-white issue as staff are all on a pay scale.

He pointed out that if a staff member goes on to present a radio or TV show, they can negotiate an "add-on" to their annual salary which may or may not be pensionable.

"Comparisons have to be made very carefully.

"People are paid by experience, so people who have had a longer track record will be paid more, generally, than someone just starting out.

"I think that makes a lot of sense, whether they're male or female," he said.

He said that the reported pay gap of up to €80,000 between RTÉ news anchors Sharon Ní Bheoláin and Bryan Dobson could be down to experience and not simply gender.

"I don't know the age discrepancy between Bryan and Sharon and when they both started working in RTÉ, if there is a significant discrepancy," he said.

He said lots of different factors came into play when it came to the levels of pay in RTÉ.

"It's a complicated one as there are people who are presenters and are on staff and are also paid extra because of the 'talent' thing.

"The other thing is the workloads," he said.

"You get people who may present something for a short period and be paid well but that's all they'll earn in the whole year.

"Other people will earn a lot more but they'll have to work 45-46 weeks of the year to earn that money."

The Newstalk broadcaster, who worked with RTÉ for 41 years before leaving for Marconi House in July 2013, said that "contracted pay rates" made the most sense for RTÉ staff.

He said RTÉ salaries should also take into account the person's level of experience, their workload and their "ability to attract ratings".

"If you're presenting something like the 'Late Late Show' and you can't keep that show at number one, you're not going to be going for a renewal of contract with a strong hand," he said.

He said that having a good agent to negotiate a strong contract also played a key role in determining your annual pay packet within the national broadcaster.

Irish Independent

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