Friday 27 April 2018

Exit deal on offer to RTÉ staff is not as generous as last time

Stock photo
Stock photo

Anne-Marie Walsh and Melanie Finn

RTÉ has confirmed it will offer workers a less generous exit package than the last time around, in a new voluntary redundancy scheme to shed 250 staff that is set to open next month.

A spokesperson revealed the terms of the severance scheme will be unveiled within weeks - but will be more restrictive than previous terms offered to workers at the troubled broadcaster.

It is understood that officials at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform warned that the scheme might have a knock-on effect at other semi-State companies.

But an RTÉ insider insisted although the department was entitled to give its opinion, it was up to the broadcaster to make a final decision on the package.

The severance terms will still be more generous than those offered in recent times by other commercial semi-State companies and public sector employers.

Previously, staff got between four and six weeks per year of service, inclusive of statutory redundancy, capped at two-and- a-half years' pay. This time four to six weeks' pay will again be on offer, but the cap will change to two years' wages.

These terms are more generous than some other State schemes. According to data in a recent Grant Thornton report on Bus Éireann, HSE terms are three weeks. This would total five weeks inclusive of statutory as it adds another two weeks, although it is capped at €600 a week.

Bus Éireann's standard terms are two-and-a-half weeks plus the two statutory weeks, with limits - a total of four and a half weeks. However, it does have a gold-plated package of seven weeks with no limits, plus statutory.

Unions claimed RTÉ staff are frustrated at hold ups in the scheme that was due to open to applications this summer, but is now not expected until next month.

They said the broadcaster set an initial deadline in July to open the scheme, with a closing date in September.

RTÉ managers aim to slash the workforce by 10pc over two years as part of a major restructuring plan to turn it into a leaner operation after director general Dee Forbes warned it must "adapt or die".

"While RTÉ is meaningfully consulting with us at the moment, we are at a point where we would like to get to some conclusion so we can inform our members of what exactly is expected of them," Siptu organiser Graham Macken said.

"There is an element of frustration about the information coming forward."

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the day-to-day management of the expenditure and operations of RTÉ is a matter for the broadcaster.

"Any query in relation to future plans or initiatives in this regard should be directed to RTÉ itself," it said.

An RTÉ spokesperson said its financial position "remains very challenging" and it is closely focused on reducing its cost base. "It is in this context that RTÉ will soon launch a Voluntary Exit Programme with staff, and share full details with them in the near future," he said.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said discussions on the scheme are ongoing between its officials, RTÉ, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Irish Independent

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