Wednesday 25 April 2018

Station to cut staff by 70 as €30m budget deficit looms

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

RTE is set to sign off on a voluntary redundancy scheme to slash staff numbers by more than 70 in an attempt to reduce losses of €30m.

The station's board will decide the final package to be offered to staff, which is being hammered out in talks with unions, at a meeting tomorrow week.

It is understood that the station's Trade Unions Group is pushing for better terms than a recent exit scheme at the HSE.

The voluntary redundancy deal for the health service staff was worth three weeks' pay per year of service on top of statutory redundancy.

If approved, staff at RTE are expected to get details of the package at meetings on Friday week.

The redundancy scheme will be open to all staff, but older workers who are members of the defined benefit pension scheme -- which guarantees a substantial payout -- are most likely to apply.

Previous cost cuts, which included an early retirement scheme and incentivised career break scheme, have reduced the headcount by around 200, or 8.5pc, since the end of 2008.

But the station told staff earlier this year it would seek further redundancies due to a serious downturn in its finances.

It is still considering whether to implement an internal tribunal's recommendation to restore increment payments to 600 staff -- worth €800,000 a year -- backdated to last January. The increment increases had been frozen.

The station is unlikely to go outside agreed industrial relations procedures and it generally honours its agreements with unions.

Management and unions have less than a month to decide if they will honour the tribunal's recommendation as it is not legally binding.


RTE is the only public body to date to freeze increment payments in addition to introducing pay cuts, which reduced salaries by up to 12.5pc in 2009, due to the economic crisis.

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

It slashed its deficit to €16.5m by the end of the year.

The deficit stood at under €5m at the end of last year but cuts in its public funding in last year's Budget and costs associated with the roll-out of digital TV mean it faces a deficit of €30m by the end of this year.

Irish Independent

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