Ireland

RTE redundancy packages ‘need to be consistent with public service pay-offs’

Paschal Donohoe said he did not know the detail of redundancy packages as yet (Brian Lawless/PA)
Paschal Donohoe said he did not know the detail of redundancy packages as yet (Brian Lawless/PA) Paschal Donohoe said he did not know the detail of redundancy packages as yet (Brian Lawless/PA)

Redundancy packages offered by RTE as it seeks to reduce its headcount by 400 need to be consistent with pay-offs made elsewhere in the public service, the Minister for Public Expenditure has said.

Paschal Donohoe said while it was a matter for RTE how it managed its voluntary redundancies plans, he made clear the national broadcaster needed to work within certain parameters.

Mr Donohoe was commenting after being asked if he would be prepared to veto the plans if RTE devised a scheme that he considered too generous.

A key element of RTE’s strategic reform plan is a voluntary redundancy scheme, estimated to cost 40 million euros, that would reduce headcount by 400 – 20% of the current staffing level – by 2028.

The Government has agreed to provide 56 million euros in additional funding to RTE to help it absorb a sharp fall in collection of TV licence revenue.

RTE was plunged into crisis in June when the broadcaster revealed it had not correctly declared fees to its then-highest-paid earner, Ryan Tubridy.

The scandal widened as a series of other financial and governance issues emerged.

“We haven’t got to the point where the detail of redundancy packages has been brought to Government,” Mr Donohoe told reporters in Dublin on Monday.

“What RTE has said is that they want to get to a reduction in the size of RTE of one-fifth over the next number of years. And they want to do that in a voluntary way.

“How they will do that is mostly a matter for them because I have to recognise the right of public service employers to decide how they want to manage industrial relations matters themselves.

“But, of course, I’ll have to have a look at what would be the packages they will be proposing and make sure they’re consistent with how similar issues have been handled elsewhere in the public service.

“But those packages have not been brought to me. I don’t think we’re at that point yet, there’s a few months of engagement to go. And I, understandably, would want to make sure that what is on offer in one part of our public service is consistent with what has been offered elsewhere.”

Asked if he would veto an over-generous scheme, Mr Donohoe added: “I think what I am saying is that there are certain ways in which these issues are handled across the public service. And, across our different state and semi state bodies, they have to be inside those parameters.

“Given the level of change that’s under way in RTE, given the fact that I made clear last week that the funding next year is going to be conditional on changes to be made, I’d rather look forward to seeing those changes being made, than have to talk about vetoing things if they don’t happen.”