Thursday 22 February 2018

More than 200 RTÉ bosses receive pay increases as 300 workers to lose jobs

Senator Kevin Humphreys Picture: Tom Burke
Senator Kevin Humphreys Picture: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Cash-strapped RTÉ gave performance-related pay hikes of at least €1,000 to more than 200 senior managers last year, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The broadcaster sanctioned the pay hikes despite planning a redundancy scheme for up to 300 as part of a plan aimed at securing its financial future.

Details of the special bonus scheme, released in response to a Freedom of Information request, show 207 received "performance increment increases" last year - but RTÉ is refusing to outline the total cost of the salary top-ups.

RTÉ said that on balance it would not be in the public interest to outline the level of increases as it could hamper its ability to negotiate salary increases in the future.

Labour Party Senator Kevin Humphreys, who submitted the FOI, described the response as "hypocritical".

He made the request after watching RTÉ's coverage of bonuses paid at Irish Water last year. Following a story in the 'Sunday Independent', the broadcaster led much of its news coverage on April 9 with details of the €3.2m worth of 'performance-related payments' at the water utility.

"They led the 'Six-One' and 'Nine News' bulletins with it. This position is very contradictory.

"Obviously they hold other semi-State bodies to one standard and yet met a different standard themselves," Mr Humphreys said.

Under the deal, extra pay is granted on a sliding scale to RTÉ managers who achieve certain performance-related targets.

But the details of the relevant performance guidelines are not clear. The broadcaster has previously said there is "a wide and complex range of criteria in place" for the increases which are tied into pay restoration agreements.

RTÉ has 167 staff members who are classified as "managerial", which means they have staff who report to them.

This figure rises to 289 when professionals and specialist staff such as lawyers, accountants, engineers and technologists are factored in.

Of these, 72pc received the payments, with RTÉ noting that not all managers are considered eligible as some have already attained the maximum salary for their position.

"RTÉ competes with high technology companies for these grades of staff," the FOI response said.

The average salary at the station stands at €56,000.

Performance increments were stopped in 2008, as the economic crash hit, but were reintroduced in 2014.

Losses for the broadcaster reached around €20m in 2016 and director general Dee Forbes recently made the case for an increase in the TV licence fee of €160.

"It is looking for a licence fee increase and yet it denies this information to the public. The response to the FOI is hypocritical," said Mr Humphreys.

"Also it raises questions over its editorial coverage.

"I honestly think there is an issue here."

Speaking about the station's coverage of Irish Water, he said: "How can the newsroom have one set of standards and yet when it is asked for similar information it denies it."

In March, almost nine acres of under-utilised land on RTÉ's Donnybrook campus was put on the market for €75m.

Irish Independent

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