Wednesday 22 November 2017

RTE to fund new pay hikes with cuts in leave

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

RTE plans to raise €1.1m by cutting overtime and annual leave for its 2,000 staff.

The Irish Independent has learned the national broadcaster has tabled the proposals in an attempt to cover its costs after agreeing to pay wage increases again.

The plans were put forward as a trade-off after RTE decided to restore increments to 600 staff -- worth €850,000 a year.

It halted these payments at the start of the year but has accepted a recommendation by an internal tribunal that any staff member due an increase since January should get it.

At a meeting on Thursday, RTE told unions it wanted savings of €1.1m and sought cuts in overtime and annual leave.

The station proposed that staff should lose a day's leave and face overtime cuts.

Unions raised objections to the proposals, particularly as the station is seeking deeper savings than the value of the increments.

"RTE has accepted the IRT (Industrial Relations Tribunal) recommendation with regard to the restoration of incremental payments to some staff," it said in a statement.

"However, the IRT also stipulated that additional savings must be achieved so that, in effect, the restoration of increments is cost-neutral.


"Both parties are working constructively to ensure that savings will be achieved."

It also said it was engaged in negotiations with the Trade Union Group.

Unions previously agreed to the suspension of increments for a 12-month period between 2009 and 2010 under a deal with management, which included a pay cut for staff.

The increments were reinstated in June last year, but management suspended them again last January and unions asked the tribunal to intervene.

The station, which faces a €30m deficit this year, recently announced plans to cut the salaries of its top earners by 30pc from 2008 levels.

It will eventually save an estimated €1m a year in wages but the full benefit will not be achieved until 2013, when the last of the current contracts are renegotiated.

It is also trying to cut costs by seeking up to 70 voluntary redundancies.

The station reduced its costs by 19pc, or €82.5m, in the last two years after facing a shortfall in income of €70m in 2009.

The deficit stood at less than €5m at the end of last year but cuts in its public funding in last year's Budget mean it expects losses of €30m by the end of this year.

Talks on the station's latest savings proposals will continue next week.

Irish Independent

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