Saturday 16 December 2017

Pay cuts loom at station as staff reject cost plans

Anne-Marie Walsh and Edel O'Connell

FEARS of new pay cuts are growing at RTE after staff rejected a bid to save more than €1m by slashing their holidays and overtime.

An internal tribunal will meet within a fortnight to find another way of achieving the saving after the cost-cutting measures were thrown out in a ballot of the 2,000 workforce.

Sources said pay cuts have been the "elephant in the room" for weeks during talks between unions and management.

They said recent remarks by director general Noel Curran had heightened fears that the cuts being imposed on top earners might be trickled down to lower grades.

Mr Curran warned the station's big-salary names last month that they could take a 30pc pay cut or look elsewhere for work.

He has asked the station's highest earners, most of whom are on contract, to accept the reduction to their 2008 wage level by 2013.

"Management may very well look at a pay cut at the IRT (industrial relations tribunal), given that the other option has been rejected," said a source.

"It has been the elephant in the room for months."

Staff have already had pay cuts of up to 12.5pc as part of €10m payroll savings, when the station forecast a €68m shortfall in its revenue in 2009.

The cuts ranged from 2.5pc for those earning more than €25,000 a year to 12.5pc for those whose annual earnings were over €255,000.

The station's big names had already taken a voluntary 10pc pay cut as the station sought to trim €10m from its wage bill.

RTE now needs to save €1.1m in payroll cuts after staff rejected plans it agreed with unions to slash their holidays by two and a half days.

The ballot result was a major blow to the national broadcaster, which faces a deficit of €17m this year.

The cuts were agreed to compensate the station for agreeing to resume paying increments to over 600 staff.

Sources said the chief objection to the plans was the fact they would penalise those with lower leave entitlements, as everyone would suffer the same reduction.

RTE confirmed that an IRT hearing is due to take place on November 24.

Irish Independent

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