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Thursday 21 November 2019

'RTE's crazy pay packets did huge damage in crash' - Davin-Power

David Davin-Power
David Davin-Power

One of the main unions at RTE may ballot for industrial action if there is any attempt to impose wage cuts on lower-paid staff.

The cash-strapped national broadcaster has not confirmed if cuts can will affect workers other than higher-paid big names and contractors.

Economy measures include a 15pc reduction in top presenters' fees and a 10pc pay cut for executives.

However, a Siptu official said the union was concerned its members could be affected after RTE referred to "tiered pay reductions" announced as part of its latest drastic survival plan.

There are now fears that pay cuts across the board could be on the table in talks beginning on Monday.

"If there's any attempt to impose pay cuts on lower-paid workers, we wouldn't rule out balloting for industrial action on that," said Siptu official Graham Macken.

"We haven't ruled out industrial unrest if RTE intends to implement anything without agreement with ourselves."

Meanwhile, RTE's figures show 126 employees have been on salaries of more than €100,000.

Of these, 27 were on between €150,000 and €250,000 last year.

The broadcaster refused to reveal pay details for eight board members who are to get 10pc pay cuts under the plan.

A spokesperson said: "With the exception of the director-general and the top 10 highest earners, RTE does not disclose the salary details of individuals employed by RTE."

Prosper

Director-general Dee Forbes had a package of €338,000 last year. That included a salary of €250,000, a €25,000 car allowance and retirement benefit contributions of €63,000.

The latest cuts come as former RTE political correspondent David Davin-Power said top presenters' salaries - sanctioned by management "who went a bit crazy" - had done "huge damage" to RTE's standing.

RTE announced 200 job cuts and cost-cutting measures this week as part of a major restructuring plan that aims to reduce costs by €60m over three years.

RTE has said it will reduce the pay of its top presenters by 15pc, but Mr Davin-Power said the big salaries had damaged the station's standing with the public.

"People say the star salaries are irrelevant, but they're indicative of a management that went a bit crazy for a decade and those pay packets did huge damage to the station's standing with the public during the years of the crash," he said.

"Nobody wants to see RTE prosper more than me - it might be on its knees now, but it's a vital national institution.

"But as well as cutbacks there will have to be changes in the management structure if any government is to begin to listen to their arguments."

Meanwhile, Ms Forbes said RTE Two will remain on the air despite fears that the long-term plan is to wind down the secondary station.

"RTE Two will have a lot of content but will also become a showcase for the RTE Player, because that's the way viewing is going and particularly for younger audiences," the station chief said.

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