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Friday 24 January 2020

81 'self-employed' workers offered contracts by RTE

Director general Dee Forbes
Director general Dee Forbes

A total of 81 RTE workers have been offered contracts after a review of staff who may have been misclassified as self-employed.

RTE director general Dee Forbes provided the figures to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The committee had raised concerns about the status of workers who had been at the broadcaster for years but were still considered to be freelancers or contractors.

Unsustainable

While the issuing of contracts was described as "a step forward" by PAC member and Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane, he claimed some of the individuals are being offered salaries so low that it's "simply unsustainable for them to work in Dublin."

In a letter to the PAC, Ms Forbes gave an update on the implementation of the Eversheds Sutherland review on the use of freelancers and contractors by RTE.

The report found that some contractors appeared to have "attributes akin to employment" and highlighted 157 individuals in need of "further review".

Ms Forbes said that to date RTE has issued 81 contracts of employment. Of these, 58 have been formally accepted and two have been rejected.

The remaining 21 are expected to be responded to by the end of the year.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said the issue of backdating was not addressed in Ms Forbes's letter.

"This was raised in the context of a wider issue beyond RTE about bogus self-employment," she said.

"There's consequences for later on in terms of pension rights and things like that. That's why backdating is quite important."

Mr Cullinane said that the issuing of contracts to workers was a "vindication" of TDs raising the issue.

However, he added: "The difficulty is a number of staff who contacted me have been offered what they would describe as very low grades."

He said this is because the terms of reference of the review of their employment only considered the years 2017 and 2018, when some were at RTE since as far back as 2012.

Reality

"They're saying they're being offered grades and salaries which is simply unsustainable for them to work in Dublin," Mr Cullinane said.

"That's the reality for many of them and they're very sore about it because there's an issue that's being corrected, but as they would see it, unfairly corrected."

PAC chairman Sean Fleming said that the Oireachtas Communications Committee meets with RTE regularly and said Ms Forbes's letter would be sent to it for consideration.

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