HR report “first step in culture change at RTÉ”

  • 07 May 2024

Response to the publication of external reports on RTÉ by Séamus Dooley, NUJ  Irish Secretary.

He said:

"The National Union of Journalists notes the long-awaited publication of the three external reports into RTÉ presented to the Cabinet today (May 7th).

“In the coming weeks NUJ members will consider the implications of the reports for our members and, through the RTÉ Trade Union Group, will engage with management in discussions on the impact of all recommendations on individual employees and on our collective agreements.

“The review of HR practices and contracts, by Brendan McGinty, Patrica King and Liam Kelly is comprehensive and complex.

“The NUJ met the HR Expert Group and thanked them for their engagement with the TUG. We had no engagement with the Corporate Governance group.

 “The NUJ has long demanded fairness and equality in the treatment of all staff – on and off air and at every level. The recommendation that presenter pay should be based on the principles of ‘transparency, consistency, fairness, clarity, and sustainability’ is an important cornerstone of the HR report.

“Terms and conditions of employment are subject to collective agreements and are covered by contracts. There will need to be detailed negotiations on the recommended introduction of new pay structures based on civil service schemes and on how these schemes can be adapted to suit a vastly different type of organisation.

“The number of allowances in RTÉ and the variety of payments is a reflection of the complex nature of the organisation. Frequently, allowances have been used as grace and favour style increases for individuals. Greater clarity is needed on allowances while the recommendations on contracts and the reform of how recruitment panels are used should certainly be taken on board.

“When the RTÉ Trade Union Group met the HR Group our members expressed grave concern at the way the HR function within RTÉ had been consistently sidelined.  Agreements and procedures were set aside, and corporate convenience trumped adherence to IR norms.

“I welcome the acknowledgement that RTÉ needs to do better and to put HR at the heart of the organisation. No number of slogans or changing of department titles will improve the organisation if there is not a change in the culture around employee relations and this is clearly recognised in the report.

“The shadow of bogus self-employment has long lingered over RTÉ and the HR review has provided a road map for how this should be urgently addressed.

“The appointment of a third party to assist RTÉ and the Department of Social Protection to navigate this issue must be given immediate priority against the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court case in The Revenue Commissioners v. Karshan (Midlands) Ltd. t/a Domino’s Pizza.[1]

“Bogus self-employment did not occur in a vacuum and is not confined to RTÉ.

“The employer first principle adopted by RTÉ must become a reality and the overreliance on irregular contracts and unorthodox arrangements must be consigned to the same bin as corporate mismanagement and shortcomings.

“Given the financial challenges facing RTÉ and the uncertainty surrounding the funding of public service broadcasting, I am concerned at the six-week delay in government approval of a new funding model. 

“While there may be sound political reasons for avoiding a decision before the European Parliament and Local Elections on 7th June the reality is that the deadline for acceptance is just a short time before the Dáil adjourns for the summer recess.

“If there is a legislative change in the funding structure, there’s a real risk of a delay until Autumn.

“At every stage in this process deadlines have been missed, and I am fearful that the uncertainty will continue. That cannot be allowed to happen, and we now need a full commitment on the part of government to address the funding issue.

“Trade unions will enter into negotiations in good faith and RTÉ must use the established IR structures to achieve the changes needed.”

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