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Staff missing from RTÉ scandal discourse, cttee to hear

The National Union of Journalists is expected to tell the Oireachtas media committee the voice of RTÉ staff “has been missing from discourse” about the series of scandals that have hit the broadcaster in the last year.

Representatives from unions including the NUJ, SIPTU, Connect and Unite are due to appear before the committee to discuss governance and culture issues at RTÉ.

Members of the committee have said they are keen to discuss the wide range of issues that involve RTÉ workers including contracts, conditions and upcoming redundancies.

The NUJ’s Irish secretary Séamus Dooley will be joined by Emma O Kelly who is the chair of the union’s Dublin Broadcasting branch who will say she wants “to give a sense of the anger and frustration of our members”.

Chair of the NUJ Dublin broadcasting branch Emma O Kelly will address the committee

“RTÉ has been starved of necessary funding for decades by successive governments.

“When we spoke out over the summer it was in direct response to the immediate crisis, but the real wellspring was the deep frustration and powerlessness we have felt for years because of severe underfunding.

“We struggled as best we could, striving to deliver quality output as budgets were slashed,” Ms O Kelly is expected to say.

“The licence fee model is no longer fit for purpose. Public service media in this country urgently needs to be supported by a new sustainable and equitable funding model.”

The meeting comes ahead of the anticipated release of two reviews commissioned last year by Minister for Media Catherine Martin into problems facing the national broadcaster.

Both reviews were originally due in January, six months after they were commissioned, but neither has been published yet and there is also no date for their publication.

In its opening statement, SIPTU is expected to state that “the uncertainty must end”.

“What our members expect is full transparency and the creation of an action plan for the national broadcaster which places a commitment to public service at its centre and not just a ‘slash and burn’ plan that threatens to reduce staffing levels and terms and conditions of employment.”

Connect will say in relation to public service broadcasting that “as billionaire moguls buy both traditional and new social media outlets to promote their agenda, an independent public service that can report without fear or favour in a necessary counterbalance”.

While the Unite union will focus on “procedures and processes relating to the misclassification of workers’ employment status and impacts thereof”.

Its opening statement will add: “In 2021, Unite put forward proposals in response to the draft recommendations on bogus self-employment”, urging that the recommendations should be endorsed by the media committee.

The statement outlines that they include establishing “an appropriately resourced unit within the Workplace Relations Commission to carry out in-house investigation, on-site inspection and adjudication functions relating to employment status.”


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