Unions in RTÉ have strongly criticised those highly-paid stars who refused to take a pay cut while ordinary staff face a drop in earnings of about 6%.Before Christmas, after RTÉ’s senior managers took a voluntary 10% pay cut, the station’s top earners such as Miriam O’Callaghan, Marian Finucane, Joe Duffy, Eamon Dunphy, Derek Mooney and eventually Pat Kenny, agreed to follow suit.
Ryan Tubridy, who was paid €346,667 in 2006, said yesterday he would be taking a 10% cut. He had previously refrained from doing so for personal and legal reasons, while Ryan, RTÉ’s second highest earner on €600,000 in 2006, has steadfastly refused to reduce his income.
Tubridy said yesterday: “Until now, I have not been in a position to take a pay cut in RTÉ. Thankfully, my legal situation has changed in recent days. This allows me to join my colleagues ,who are all facing tough times, by taking a 10% pay cut.” In addition Tubridy said he would be making a substantial donation to St Vincent de Paul.
Secretary of the RTÉ trade union group Mary Curtin said: “The unions thank those who volunteered a pay cut. But, as for the others, it is high time they took their heads out of the sand.
“It is a bitter irony that the very people who are criticising the high salaries in the banks are refusing to take a cut in their own exorbitant salaries,” she said.
Meanwhile, RTÉ director general Cathal Goan told the unions last week that the broadcaster needed to save another €41m, of which €10m would have to come from the payroll. With regard to the remaining €31m in savings required, programmes at the national broadcaster are expected to remain unchanged in the immediate future – but cuts cannot be ruled out. The €10m in payroll savings is likely to include graduated pay cuts based on earnings, a cut in travel expenses and the end of extra privilege days off at Christmas and Easter.
With a total pay bill of €170m for its 2,000 staff, RTÉ’s €10m cut will work out at just under 6% per worker. However the public service pension levy – also of around 6% – does not apply to RTÉ staff despite the station being state-owned. Before Christmas RTÉ secured €27m of savings mainly through a 12-month pay freeze. But an even sharper drop in advertising revenue since then has meant it requires further savings to make good an estimated €68m deficit for 2009.
The RTÉ trade union group said it would enter negotiations with management in two weeks when its primary concern will be the protection of employment.