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Outrage after RTE social club lays off special needs staff

RTE's Sports and Social club has made two long-serving workers with special needs redundant as part of a cost-cutting drive at the Montrose facility.

Four staff are being let go to save money at the club, which boasts a bar and restaurant, function room, gym, squash courts and a sauna.

But the fact two of them are workers with special needs has angered staff at the station.

A committee spokesperson for the RTE club today confirmed that four people are being let go to save money.

"One is a full-time chef, and the other three are cleaning staff," the club official told the Herald.

"The club is suffering a substantial financial loss and this decision was not taken lightly, but it had to be done in order for the club to survive."

While the RTE club would not expand on the circumstances of the staff being made redundant, members of the sports and social club confirmed to the Herald that two of them, a man and a woman, were workers with "particular needs".

"One has worked here for more than a decade, and the other is here more than five years," said an RTE source.

"Their positions may be just part-time, but their jobs are everything to them, they define them as people and it is terrible to see them being let go.

"Surely there are other ways to save money," the source added.



The club currently has between 800 and 900 members, made up of current staff and former employees.

It receives maintenance funding from RTE to the tune of €75,000 for this year, but club sources say this figure has been reducing in recent years as cutbacks hit the station.

Club sources said the monthly subscription for members currently employed in the station is around €18 a month, but that for former employees this figure is much less.

"The reality is there are less people on the campus because of cutbacks, and the subscriptions coming in are down because more members are qualifying to pay at the lower rate. And there are less people in RTE compared to five years ago," said one staff member.

The club is situated in a building at the rear of the Montrose complex.

RTE would not comment directly on the issue, saying that "all matters relating to the operational running of the club are best addressed by the club".

"RTE provides a modest capital grant each year to the sports and social club, which is used for the building upkeep, maintenance and renewal of the facilities," said a station spokesperson.

"Sports and Social membership activities are paid for by member subscription fees and charges," they added.

The STEPS programme, under which the two people with special needs operate under, stands for the Support Training and Enterprise Programme co-funded by the Government and the EU.



In a statement to the Herald, the club committee said the situation in which four staff were made redundant was "unfortunate and regrettable".

"The staff concerned have been with the club for many years and have given excellent service. The difficult decision to end their employment is a response to a financial reality."

The statement also said that the club would assist them financially with training and offered to assist the STEPS programme in securing alternative training and employment for those concerned.