RTÉ has said it is to seek in excess of the initial 60 voluntary redundancies, saying that the Voluntary Exit programme is oversubscribed.

The broadcaster also said it is to suppress posts and not replace retirees in the wake of the workforce's rejection of pay cuts aimed at securing savings.

Last month, staff overwhelmingly rejected proposals that would have seen pay cuts ranging from around 3.5% to 5.5 % for staff earning over €40,000 along with around 60 voluntary exits, a halving of sick pay entitlements and a 10% cut in allowances.

In a bulletin to staff this morning, Ms Forbes said that RTÉ respected that the proposals had been clearly and decisively rejected by members of the Trade Union Group, saying: "It is clear that pay reductions in particular are not an acceptable part of the response to the agreed structural financial challenges we face."

She said that notwithstanding the ballot result, the requirement for "long-term, sustainable cost savings" had not diminished - and reiterated the need to deliver on plans to reduce operating costs by €60 million between 2020 and 2023.

"This reduction in costs, alongside growing our commercial revenue and reform of the TV Licence system, is essential if we are to return RTÉ to a stable financial position," said Ms Forbes.

Now that pay cuts have been rejected, she told staff that RTÉ will now be seeking in excess of the planned 60 exits under the Voluntary Exit Programme, which she said was oversubscribed.

The broadcaster will communicate with successful candidates by 24 May, who will then have one week to decide whether to accept.

Ms Forbes also highlighted other measures to cut staff costs, stating: "In addition to the VEP scheme we are now actively suppressing a range of vacancies and where possible seeking not to replace those who are retiring."

"In some cases, as with VEP departures, we will have to re-evaluate local functions and teams to minimise replacement hires. We will also be reviewing all fixed term contract roles to assess the necessity to renew. This process will be managed at local level with the support of HR," she continued.

The Director General also noted that the impact of Covid-19 has persisted for longer than envisaged or budgeted for.

She said RTÉ would be "actively suppressing non-essential discretionary spend", adding: "Additional unplanned production disruptions, sports deferrals and curtailments, and continuing operating savings due to restricted site activity will all yield additional operating savings this year."

The company will also be tendering for a wide-ranging review and restructuring of its grading system and skills requirements, with a view to "rationalising and enhancing organisation agility".

"By doing so, our aim is to create clear career frameworks that will allow for greater flexibility and mobility, allowing new opportunities for you while also reducing our dependency on external resources and overtime," she told staff.

This process commencing in mid-summer, and concluding next year "will allow us make further decisions on the best shape and size of the organisation we need to face the future".

She said the current blend of onsite and remote working will continue until September as previously communicated, and confirmed that RTÉ is developing a "robust" Remote Working Policy.

She also highlighted the need to find a "structural" way to communicate with around 50% of employees who are not members of representative bodies, and hoped clear proposals would emerge by September.

In a statement, the RTÉ Trade Union Group said it notes the communication released today by the Director General.

However, it said at no stage was the TUG consulted or briefed on these new proposals.

It said while it is "disappointing" to note that a key recommendation contained in the Mulvey Gender and Role Review in 2017 is only now being undertaken, it welcomes its commencement.

The TUG said it looks forward to direct engagement with management on any proposals which the organisation puts forward.

"Management needs to produce a long-term strategic vision which moves beyond short-term, cost cutting measures," the statement said.