From pic 3 : Secretary of the National Union of Journalist Seamus Dooley at RTÉ: this morning Dee Forbes, RTE Director General at The Late Late Show Gay Byrnes special last Tuesday night
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, secretary of the National Union of Journalists Seamus Dooley spoke to Bryan Dobson about the RTÉ 200 job cuts leak to The Irish Times last night.
Mr Dooley described the manner in which RTÉ’s staff and workforce learned about the cuts via media reports as “shocking”.
This morning, Will Leahy who presents RTÉ GOLD from Limerick told his listeners:
“The service you’re listening to now will cease to exist…Today could be our last day. It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, it could be the 31st of December. All I know is what I read in the papers.”
From this morning’s interview…
Seamus Dooley: “As secretary of the NUJ, I’m not going to criticise any journalist for getting a good story. But the reality is that people are waking up to to, this morning, in Limerick, in digital services, finding out that their livelihood is under threat.
“And what I’m getting from staff on campus this morning is how can we trust these people to deliver a plan if they’re not even capable of delivering a message properly.”
Bryan Dobson: “What about the questions that you have about the plan itself. Because there are a lot of questions left unanswered, are there not?”
Dooley: “There are a huge amount of questions left unanswered and members of RTÉ, well all the trade unions, are caught between two abject failures. The failure of Government upon public service broadcasting and the failure, as admitted by the Director-General [Dee Forbes] herself this morning, the failure of executive management to deliver a plan.
“She has admitted here this morning that it has taken three years and the plan is not delivering. And the hames that has been made of this so far is proof of that. The reorganisation hasn’t worked.
“We were up for the plan. Remember that trade union group in RTÉ were the first workers in the public service to volunteer a pay cut. We have a document, guiding principles, which will, is the framework for all of the changes that can be delivered. Could we deliver it now? RTÉ have failed to implement changes using the existing collective agreements and I’m not going to listen to guff about agreements because they’re there.
“It’s up to management to manage – they haven’t been doing it.”
Dobson: “Key elements of this are that any redundancies will be voluntary so nobody is going to be make it compulsory to lose their job. The pay cuts will apply to the highest earners whether that be presenters or indeed at the executive level and there’s a pay freeze for the rest of staff.”
Dooley: “Well, first of all, we have, we only learned about this document through The Irish Times. Every proposal will be independently evaluated by an independent [inaudible] on our behalf. I’m very reluctant to take any promises at face value. We will absolutely interrogate them. I certainly welcome the statement in relation to voluntary redundancies.”I would say that I’m very worried about grand gestures. The DG herself admitted that the high pay issue, which can be a bit of a distraction really, is, would make an insignificant amount. So grand gestures like selling bits of art, or the board of RTÉ waving fees, they’re superficial.
“What we want and what we’ve been looking for for three years is the delivery of a plan which tells us the future of RTÉ.
“And one other thing I would say to your listeners is we represent what Gay Byrne used to call, the worker bees who keep the factory humming – low paid and who will be very hard hit by some of those…”
Dobson: “How concerned would you be that this plan mightn’t be enough. That if it’s not matched, as Dee Forbes seemed to be arguing earlier by reform of the licence fee, we’ll be back in the same situation in maybe just a couple of years time.”
Dooley: “I think the evidence is that redundancy packages of this type do not work. The proposals which RTÉ have implemented haven’t been enough and what we need is meaningful engagement which actually shows us the vision that RTÉ have in relation to what kind of public service broadcasting we want. So I would have a concern.
“And I would also worry about, I mean the atmosphere here is very poor. The moral is very low because since September, RTÉ have been engaged with what I refer to as ‘industrial relations striptease’ – where we get an odd email and an odd staff announcement, telling us ‘we’ll all be rooned said Hanrahan’ we have to do something’. Then they keep postponing and they postpone and then we read about it in this way.
“There is a big challenge facing us but there is also a challenge facing Government. We want public service broadcasting in Ireland, it must be paid for. It must be planned properly and that involves by both the executive of RTÉ and by Government.”
Dobson: “Right. Seamus Dooley from the NUJ thank you very much for that.”
Earlier on Morning Ireland, Director-General of RTÉ Dee Forbes said:
“It is regrettable but I think what’s also hugely important is that we sustain for the future. What’s most important in this conversation is that we sustain public service broadcasting.
“It’s never been a more important time. It’s never been more important to have that independent voice. So what we’re doing here is, is sort of changing, if you like, course and looking at the direction that it go in.”
The RTÉ Guide is for sale
RTÉ will close its current studio in Limerick in 2020; production of RTÉ lyric fm will move to Cork and Dublin
RTÉ will continue to provide a mid-west news service in Limerick
We will close the Digital Audio Broadcast network, as well as RTÉ’s digital radio stations (RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Pulse, RTÉ Gold, RTÉjr Radio & RTÉ Radio 1 Extra)
RTÉ Aertel will cease
The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra will transfer to the National Concert Hall
We will develop a new integrated media centre in Donnybrook, investing in new digital infrastructure
We need to reduce projected costs by €60 million over three years (2020-2023), in addition to the reduction of 23% delivered between 2008 and 2018
We need to reduce the fees paid to our top contracted on-air presenters by15%, in addition to the 30+% cuts as agreed in previous years
We need to reduce staff costs—we will consult with staff and unions on a number of initiatives, to include pay freeze, tiered pay reductions, review of benefits, work practice reforms
The Executive Board will take a 10% reduction in pay; the Board of RTÉ will waive its fees
We need to achieve a staff headcount reduction of c. 200 in 2020
RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes said:
“The challenges in front of us are real. But RTÉ does have a plan, which we are confident can address many of the challenges we face and bring Ireland’s national public broadcaster to stability.
However, Government needs to act to ensure there is a future for public service media in Ireland. I am clear about what role RTÉ should play in Irish life, but I am also clear that we cannot do it unless Government fixes the TV Licence system. We shouldn’t be under any illusions; we are in a fight – a fight to sustain a viable public media in Ireland.”
“We remain in discussions with Government. We are doing all we can to return RTÉ to a stable financial position, but we will not be able to reinvent public media for future generations, nor fulfil our remit, without immediate reform of the TV Licence system.”