World News – GB – RTÉ to reinstate frozen additional pay increases


RTÉ must take immediate steps to reinstate previously frozen additional salary increases for affected staff, after accepting a recommendation from its internal industrial relations tribunal

Earlier today, the IRT ruled that the broadcaster was wrong to impose a unilateral freeze on increases, which the unions deemed unfair because it had a disproportionate impact on lower-paid workers

The IRT also criticized the way in which RTÉ had inserted an « inability to pay » clause in employment contracts in recent years without consulting the union group

In a letter to the IRT this afternoon, RTÉ’s director of human resources, Eimear Cusack, confirmed: “RTÉ has ​​made the decision to accept the recommendation and will apply it immediately for increases to due in 2020

« As a result, we will resume these additional payments shortly from their normal due date and notify the relevant staff

However, Ms. Cusack described the IRT’s recommendation as « very difficult, given our very serious financial situation », adding that it would make the task of sustainably reducing RTÉ’s operating costs while protecting the business. ’employment and services to the public « all the more difficult »

She said: « Therefore, this weighs down the upcoming negotiations between RTÉ and TUG, where further reductions in our costs and a fundamental reform of the way we work will have to be agreed and implemented.

« This, together with the reform of the TV licensing system and commercial stability, will be essential if RTÉ is to regain a sustainable financial situation »

She promised that RTÉ would report to the IRT before the December 11 deadline on the progress of restructuring negotiations

TUG has already accepted the IRT’s recommendation, describing it as a « clear victory » for members

For several years, RTE has been in financial difficulty and its “Revised Strategy” presented last November aimed to secure 60 million euros in urgent savings between 2020 and 2023

The freeze on increases has been included in a wide range of proposals to achieve these savings as part of a renegotiation of collective agreements with the TUG

Last January, RTÉ told staff it was freezing annual pay increases, known as increases for employees who had not yet reached the top of their pay scale.

In today’s ruling, Mr. Doherty says: « It quickly became clear that freezing or stopping increases was going to be a very controversial proposal in negotiations, with RTÉ having proposed that all additional payments cease in January 2020. »

Another independent facilitation process took place from January, chaired by former Labor Court President Kevin Duffy, in which the issue of increments was effectively parked, to allow all other negotiations to take place. continue

However, in March RTÉ said it had to plan and prepare to face the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19 and negotiations ceased

These negotiations have not yet resumed, and Mr. Doherty said: « It is clear that the cessation of negotiations took longer than anyone could have imagined at the time and this delay contributed to the frustration surrounding the issue of increments. »

Last July, the TUG referred the issue of increases to the IRT and a full hearing was held on September 24

In comments to the IRT, the unions acknowledged RTÉ’s « dire financial situation », but argued that other cost-cutting measures should be fully explored and agreed upon, rather than the suspension of increases

They described RTÉ’s unilateral decision to suspend wage increases as unfair, as it had a disproportionate impact on some of the organization’s lowest-paid employees, as well as the violation of long-standing collective agreements. date and contractual rights of the personnel concerned

They also argued that a new « inability to pay » clause had been inserted into individual contracts in recent years without consultation and « by clearly secret means and without wider disclosure »

They rejected management’s suggestions that the increases could be compared to the Merit Pay program for managers

For its part, RTÉ underlined its « very difficult » financial situation, affirming that « all projections show that the organization faces both persistent and growing deficits, and its continuation in its current form is highly doubtful beyond 2022 »

He also noted that the overall financial situation had been worsened by the pandemic « with severely compromised business revenues »

This cost the increases for the affected staff to € 1 million per year, adding that if paid, when combined with Managers Merit Pay, the overall bill could reach « some € 9 million » by 2022

RTÉ management also told the IRT that the « vast majority » of retail contracts contain a reference to the broadcaster’s continued ability to pay increases « and thus allow RTÉ to freeze these payments under the circumstances. current financial resources as part of an overall cost reduction plan « 

In his decision, M Doherty described this case as the most difficult the IRT has faced in recent years, « in terms of, as it does, the dire financial situation regarding the state of RTÉ’s finances as a whole, as well as the effect of difficult economies the measures necessary to restore stability and maintain viability « 

He acknowledged that the effect on staff is likely to be « demanding » The integrity of the industrial relations process and procedure is therefore « vital » for a successful outcome, as is respect for this process and the conduct of negotiations for changes to collective agreements

He also said the question of the legal status of the content of individual staff contracts arose – but said the IRT was not a judicial tribunal, but rather an industrial relations body – and he formulated his recommendation on this basis

M Doherty said: “The IRT therefore recommends that progress payments resume with immediate effect and that those affected by their non-payment be repaid from their normal due date. »

He said that despite RTÉ’s dire financial situation, the IRT had to recognize a precedent and criticized the way RTÉ had inserted an « inability to pay » clause in individual contracts

« The change involving the insertion of a new term and condition dealing with ‘inability to pay’, in what now amounts to a majority of individual contracts, had limited disclosure and lacked broader disclosure, and remains unacceptable in the context of industrial relations « 

Given the urgency of RTÉ’s financial situation, the IRT urged the parties to re-engage « quickly » to resume negotiations on the cost-cutting measures already proposed and to report back to the IRT before December 11

Any discussion on the payment of increases must be addressed following these negotiations on cost savings

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World News – GB – RTÉ to reinstate frozen additional pay increases



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