Montrose: Gerry Ryan and Ryan Tubridy could be silenced from the autumn

RTé says it will be forced to close down by September if reluctant staff do not agree to take pay cuts of between 2% and 12.5%, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

In a staff briefing last week, management said the state broadcaster is facing a deficit of €67m this year and unless the cuts are agreed it will run out of cash in September and will not be able to afford to continue broadcasting.

Management said that RTé cannot operate on a deficit so the station will have no option but to 'go black' if it can't secure cutbacks from staff, suppliers and sole traders.

RTé is seeking pay cuts of 2% for those earning €40,000 and €12.5% for those on €350,000 and above.

Sole traders include the likes of Pat Kenny, Ryan Tubridy, Gerry Ryan and Joe Duffy, who are employed on personal contracts by RTé. They have all agreed to a 10% pay cut. But they will now be asked to take a further 12.5% cut in their wage packets.

The prospect of RTé's 2,000 staff backing management's cutbacks plan looks remote. Balloting on the deal began last Friday and will continue until the end of this week.

Originally RTé had sought pay cuts ranging from 5% for those earning up to €50,000, 7.5% on salaries up to €100,000 and up to 17.5% for those earning €350,000 and more.

The revised proposals provide that those earning under €25,000 will not suffer any cut in pay while those earning up to €40,000 will see a 2.35% reduction.

The cut increases to 3.7% for those on €50,000, 4.5% for those on €60,000, 5.5% for those earning €70,000 a year and up to 12.5% for those on €350,000 and more.

While the unions presented the revised wage cutbacks plan to members as "the final position of RTé", staff complained bitterly that they were being asked to take cuts while senior management were still being paid performance bonuses.

It was also pointed out that RTé has to fund the full €100m cost of rolling out digital TV.

In most European countries the state is funding digital TV rollout which has cost RTé €44m so far.

If RTé didn't have to provide those funds it could almost break even this year, it was argued.

Even if RTé staff back the wage cuts in the ballot, director general Cathal Goan said that he will write to every member
of staff seeking their permission to cut their pay which he stressed was voluntary.