SIPTU and the Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI) have warned the management of RTÉ that it could face significant opposition concerning a review it has commissioned in relation to the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (RTÉ NSO) and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (RTÉ CO).
SIPTU Organiser, Graham Macken, said: “On 2nd November, the Interim General Manager of the RTÉ CO, Gareth Hudson, informed its members that by June 2018, RTÉ will lose a total of 31 full-time positions in the RTÉ NSO and RTÉ CO.
“Such a development would be contrary to the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009, which outlines ‘the objects of RTÉ’, and includes among them, ‘to establish and maintain orchestras, choirs and other cultural performing groups’. This obligation was reiterated by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, in August this year. A development of that kind would also be completely at variance with the thrust of a recent commitment by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to double arts funding over the next seven years.
“While RTÉ has stated repeatedly that all the constituent unions represented within the RTÉ Trade Union Group will be consulted at every stage of its proposed restructuring programme, the MUI which is affiliated to SIPTU only became aware of the decision to conduct this review through unofficial channels.
“SIPTU representatives have written to RTÉ management outlining the frustration of our members at learning of this development third hand. We have also demanded details in relation to this proposed review and access to all relevant documentation. SIPTU representatives have stated on numerous occasions that in order to be a part of open and transparent negotiations, we need to be involved from the outset prior to decisions being taken at management level.”
He added: “There are a number of vacancies within both orchestras that remain to be filled for quite a considerable time, at this stage. Our members expect these roles and any additional vacancies that may become available as a consequence of the current voluntary exit package to be advertised without delay.
“SIPTU members have warned management that any attempt to unilaterally alter the structures or terms and conditions within the orchestras could trigger a significant opposition. Our members are not ruling out potential industrial action at this stage.”