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Home / News / Cttee hears ‘harrowing stories’ of self-employment at RTÉ

Cttee hears ‘harrowing stories’ of self-employment at RTÉ

Minister for Media Catherine Martin has conveyed the concerns of staff who were incorrectly labeled as self-employed at RTÉ directly to the organisation’s Director General Kevin Bakhurst over the past week, she told an Oireachtas committee.

“I’m conscious of keeping engaged with them,” Mr Martin told the Media Committee, having noted that she met RTÉ unions last summer and again “in the last week”.

The minister “then met with the DG and conveyed their concerns, as I promised I would directly to the DG”.

Committee cathaoirleach Niamh Smyth said that she had heard “harrowing stories” in recent discussions with RTÉ staff – including many women – who are facing retirement with no pension, despite decades of employment at the broadcaster.

The Fianna Fáil TD said that she had spoken to “a lot of women who have worked there for 20, 30 and 40 years plus”.

“Women who are still in that organisation that are coming to retirement age and will have no pension,” Ms Smyth said.

“Women who have worked in that organisation for 30 years and are now retired, with no pension.

“Women who have worked in that organisation for decades, with no maternity leave, no sick leave, none of the benefits that they should have been entitled to.”

Those staff told her that RTÉ has said they have to pursue “the legal route”.

“They are being told, the direction is, ‘sorry, we can’t do anything here’ and the only way to pursue this is through the legal route,” Ms Smyth said.

This is “completely unthinkable” as the broadcaster uses the services of legal firm Arthur Cox, Ms Smyth said.

“So, they’re put in a no-hope position,” she added.

“I don’t think any individual could be expected to take on the legal might of the likes of RTÉ.”

“There’s a lot of fear there,” Ms Smyth said, and “stories of bullying, of intimidation”.

“This could impact almost 700 staff,” she said, adding that she is “very concerned as to what the real figure is” for the ultimate cost to RTÉ.

Minister Martin said that the Department of Social Protection investigation is ongoing.

She rejected a suggestion from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin that a final figure had been calculated.

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