“We’re not hiring anyone” – Bakhurst announces an immediate recruitment freeze at RTÉ – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

“We’re not hiring anyone” – Bakhurst announces an immediate recruitment freeze at RTÉ

Image source: RTE

RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst announced a hiring freeze effective immediately and said all discretionary spending would cease, reports RTE.

In an email to staff, Mr Bakhurst said he “regrets” the decision as it would affect RTÉ’s coverage and its investment in equipment and digital plans.

“Given the steep fall in the licence fee and the uncertainty over interim funding, it is the only responsible thing that we can do,” he said, reports RTE.

The announcement comes as RTÉ’s board members and senior management appear before the Oireachtas media committee to face further hearings into the organisation’s financial controls.

The RTE Trade Union Group (TUG) said it had no prior knowledge of the hiring freeze, adding it was “not acceptable”.

In a statement issued this evening, the TUG said that Mr Buckhurst had been “given assurances”, he would engage with workers and trade unions in efforts to rebuild public confidence.

“We expect to be advised of and consulted on decisions which significantly impact our members,” the statement added. There are long-standing vacancies that need to be filled in RTÉ and a total recruitment freeze will have a detrimental impact on workers and their ability to provide quality programmes and content,” reports RTE.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, committee chair Niamh Smyth said RTÉ must provide full transparency to media ministers and the public.

She said: “There are 1,800 staff working in RTÉ and the vast majority of them are not the top 100 earners. It does give us a snapshot in time of where the wages and salaries are going and ultimately paints a picture of the tipping balance in terms of the financial circumstance that RTÉ finds itself in,” reports RTE.

On Monday, RTÉ submitted documentation to TDs and senators at the committee, including audits of the board over a decade and independent audits submitted to the risk committee.

Documentation submitted to the committee shows that €650,000 in car allowances were paid out last year, but beneficiaries are not required to prove their driving licence.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Michael McGrath warned that RTÉ had to prove there had been a significant change in culture before the government would consider the station’s request for an extra ten million dollars.

Much of this will depend on a new strategic plan being developed by the CEO and presented to Ms Martin next month, reports RTE.

Last year, RTÉ received €15 million in interim funding as recommended by the Future of Media Commission.

Last week, RTÉ published its 2022 annual report and Ms Ní Raghallaigh said it was finalized before the recent crisis and turmoil and the announcement of a number of organizational changes and reforms at RTÉ.

“As an organisation, we cannot shy away from the shortcomings and challenges that have been identified,” she said. “Nor will we,” reports RTE.

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