RTE RETIRED STAFF ASSOCIATION
9th January 2023
Dear Ms Ní Raghallaigh
I am writing to you on behalf of our members who at our 2022 AGM unanimously expressed dismay that the Board of RTÉ would write to the government and ask them to wipe out the surplus on the RTÉ pension scheme to pay for RTÉs financial difficulties. RTÉRSA represents almost 1200 retired staff.
The Chief Financial Officer of RTÉ wrote to the Government in February 2020 as follows;
“The Board of RTÉ has approved a proposal for an amending regulation to the regulations of the RTÉ Superannuation Scheme which requires the scheme to cover certain of its own administration expenses which to date has been paid by RTÉ………….You are already aware of RTÉ’s own financial challenges and will know that as part of RTE’s strategy 2020–2024, RTÉ is seeking to deliver cost reductions of €60 million over the next three years 2020–2022. In this context €500,000 per annum is the material amount. On the other hand, the scheme reported a surplus of €42.5 million at the 1st of January 2019 and to which €500,000 cost per annum is a less material amount”.
In common with other Semi-State defined benefit schemes, these costs have been borne by RTÉ since the foundation of the scheme by statute in 1960. These administration costs are a core operational cost of RTÉ.
In advising the Minister, NewEra (a division of the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA) estimated that these costs are likely to rise significantly in the future and that this proposal, if implemented, would over time, deplete the scheme’s assets by approximately €40m.
Many retired staff members are sympathetic to RTÉ’s financial difficulties. However, the funding of the core operational costs of the State’s Public Service Broadcaster is the function of the Government rather than the lifetime pension savings of retired employees. Pensioners are appalled that RTÉ would seek to deplete the surplus in the RTÉ scheme in these very uncertain times.
The RTÉ pension is normally the only source of income for RTÉ pensioners as RTÉs employees were not allowed to pay a full PRSI stamp to qualify for the contributory old age pension. Only recently RTÉ pensioners were granted a pension increase of just 2%, the first increase since 2008. The contributory state pension increased by 11% in the same period. Due to inflation the value of RTÉ pensions has fallen by more than 15%. 85% of RTÉ pensioners are on less than the average industrial wage and over one third are on pensions of less than €20,000.
We have become aware that the Government rightly refused to implement this rule change. We have also become aware that RTÉ intends to appeal this refusal.
How can the Board of RTÉ contemplate raiding the pension savings of employees who for the most part have given 40 years of loyal service to the organisation?
On behalf of our members, I am imploring you not to proceed with this indefensible proposal. I can assure you that this representative body will use all avenues to prevent this proposal proceeding.
FYI, this letter re-iterates points that were made in a letter from the RTÉRSA to Ms Moya Doherty in June 2022.
I’m sending a copy of this letter to the other RTÉ Board members.
Dr PJ Matthews,