Staff outrage at editor and directors' pay hike

By Colin Crummy and Des Cryan

More than 65 Irish Times staff have signed a letter of protest
against “indefensible” salaries paid to the editor and directors of the
newspaper.

The letter, to be sent to the chairman of the company and governors
of the Irish Times Trust next week, has the backing of senior staff,
including North American editor Conor O’Cleary and influential
columnists John Waters and Fintan O’Toole.

It describes as
“extravagant, disproportionate and indefensible” the recent salary
increases and bonuses paid to editor Geraldine Kennedy and four other
directors. The figures show that Kennedy and managing director Maeve
Donovan receive salaries of €323,000 each.

Kennedy and other
directors were paid a total of €2.6million, representing 20.5 per cent
of the paper’s total profits. The rest of the 544 Irish Times staff
shared just four per cent of the profits.

The letter asks whether
those who approved “such outrageous salary levels either know or
understand what the Irish Times represents and what is its purpose or
meaning… we feel that the whole thrust of the enterprise has been
turned upside down and that our work and standing as journalists have
been seriously undermined”.

Just a month ago, Irish Times staff
were warned of the need for rigorous cost management to ensure high
costs were not allowed to threaten the future of the paper. A
management plan seeks between 35 and 40 redundancies among the paper’s
workforce.

A senior source at the newspaper said: “We have set
out to avoid ‘industrial relations’ issues, preferring to use the
letter as an expression of moral outrage. The issue is also being
pursued by the NUJ chapel at the Irish Times as well as the editorial
committee, which is elected by journalists.”

The Sunday
Independent claimed Kennedy is now among the best-paid newspaper
editors in the world, paid “more than the editor of The Daily
Telegraph”.

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