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Last chance for generous retirement package, RTE staff told

RTE staff have been told that the station cannot afford to offer any more generous severance and retirement packages once the current scheme runs out later this month.

In a letter to employees outlining the financial crisis at the state broadcaster, director general Noel Curran warned staff that this was their last chance to avail of such a redundancy scheme.

It also outlined the "serious challenge" facing management to cut from its operating costs €25m -- the forecast budget deficit at RTE for 2012.

Mr Curran said that staff would face compulsory redeployment at both local and national levels and, where necessary, retraining in a bid to streamline the broadcaster's operating costs.

The Trade Union Group (TUG), which represents staff, has so far declined to comment on ongoing negotiations with management.

"This will be the final occasion that RTE will be able to provide voluntary exit facilities on terms based on pre-cut salaries before the 29th of June, 2009 pay cuts," wrote Mr Curran.

"Given the financial position RTE is in and the scale of the financial challenge ahead of us, we will simply not be in a position to afford such a package in the future."

Next week, senior management is to meet with staff to allay fears over cost-reduction measures.

Further pay cuts have not been ruled out.

"Managers will seek to be frank and clear about the changes that are happening in each and every area of the organisation," said Mr Curran.

"No doubt they won't be able to answer every question but they will certainly be as open as they can be."

Describing the situation facing RTE as serious, he said the moves would prove very difficult.

Mr Curran said the organisation would not be the same -- it would be smaller, differently structured and there would be a substantial change in operating models.

Pay cuts

He continued: "I have always tried to be as open and upfront as possible with staff, so I should say that if these initiatives fail to yield the necessary savings, RTE will have to consider a range of alternative approaches to reduce our cost base.

"These include further pay reductions for all staff and the cessation of certain services."

Mr Curran added that while this was not a desirable course of action, a failure to deliver a sound financial footing would simply lead them around in a cycle of "cost cutting and crisis".

Irish Independent