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RTE faces exodus as 237 staff join rush for pay-offs

RTE staff are queuing up to follow Anne Doyle out under the station's redundancy scheme.

Far more staff than expected are seeking to leave the broadcaster under a voluntary scheme.

Three times as many workers were revealed to be vying for the 80 redundancy packages originally offered by the national broadcaster.

Now the station has decided to expand the scheme to allow the departures of as many as possible of the 237 staff who have applied.

Among the big names reported to be interested in leaving was top news anchor Anne Doyle. Today she told the Herald she "never hinted" she wanted to go.

More than one in 10 staff at the station expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy or early retirement by the closing date this month.

Director General Noel Curran said the big response has given the station a chance to increase the number of redundancies.

RTE chiefs wanted 80 workers to go by the end of November.

Now further phases of redundancy are being considered, although care will be taken to retain enough skilled workers in each department.

However, as RTE plans to reduce the number of programmes it makes, fewer staff will be needed.

The job cuts are coming because RTE is strapped for cash. It is facing a €30m shortfall in running the service this year. It is seeking to break even by 2013.

A number of different schemes are available to staff, depending on age and pensions.

Staff taking voluntary redundancy will receive up to six weeks' pay per year of service, capped at 130 weeks, based on their salary before cuts in 2009.

Staff over 55 taking early retirement will receive a lump sum of up to €60,000, depending on their age, and deferred redundancy payments until retirement age.

Among the cost cuts announced are plans to cut the salaries of the station's top earners by 30pc.

Staff are to lose two and a half days' annual leave over the next 12 months and work extra hours.