A court battle begins today between BBC presenter Samira Ahmed and BBC over the matter of equal pay. The Radio 4 presenter has argued that the BBC has paid her “a sixth” of what was earned by a male presenter in a “very similar job.”

Key Highlights:

  • Samira Ahmed, Radio 4 presenter, takes BBC to court over equal pay
  • She will argue that Jeremy Vine was paid six times more than her for an equal amount of work
  • BBC will argue that the nature of the shows they present varies
  • Ahmed’s case will be heard at the central London employment tribunal over the next week

Samira Ahmed was paid up to £440 per episode to present Newswatch between the years of 2012 to 2015. However, Jeremy Vine, who presented the show Points of View, was paid £3,000 per episode between 2008 to 2018. Vine has been revealed to be BBC’s highest-paid journalist.

Samira Ahmed’s Case

Samira Ahmed is supported by broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, lawyer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. Her claims are also backed by the National Union of Journalists. Ahmed’s legal team constitutes of Caroline Underhill, equal pay practice lead at Thompsons Solicitors as well as Claire Darwin, who specialises in employment and discrimination law at Matrix Chambers.

The BBC apologised to ex-China editor Carrie Gracie in 2018 admitted that she had been underpaid. The BBC has pledged to close its gender pay gap by 2020.

Her case argues that Newswatch and Points of View are both presenter-led programmes lasting about 15 minutes. Since both offer the public the opportunity to air their views on BBC content, they are similar in nature. As a result, Samira Ahmed claims that she has a right to equal pay for equal work.

According to Press Gazette, Ahmed was quoted as saying: “I love my job on Newswatch despite it being difficult and challenging. On the back of my BBC ID card are written the BBC values which include ‘we respect each other and celebrate our diversity’ and ‘we take pride in delivering quality and value for money.’”

“I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.”

READ ALSO: The Gender Pay Gap In Sports  – Why We Must Talk About It 

BBC’s Case

However, BBC disagrees with Samira Ahmed’s claims. Their defence centres around the fact that Newswatch and Points of View do not have the same profile. As a result, they cannot be considered equal work.

A spokesperson of the BBC said: “The BBC is committed to equal pay. Points of View is an entertainment programme with a long history and is a household name with the public. Newswatch – while an important programme – isn’t.”

BBC even claims that Ahmed was paid the same as her male predecessor on Newswatch, Raymond Snoddy.

However, the BBC’s statement is inconsistent with the viewership figures released by NUJ. These figures show that the audience for Newswatch peaks at 1.9m on average while Points of View only reaches 800,000 viewers.

Samira Ahmed is supported by broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, lawyer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

What’s Next

The BBC has agreed to full backdated pay for Ahmed’s work on Radio 4’s Front Row and Radio 3’s Night Waves/Free. Thinking where the pay gap between Ahmed and her male equivalents was 50% and 33% respectively.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, supported Samira Ahmed. She said: “The scourge of unequal pay has no place in our public service broadcaster and that’s why the NUJ is backing Samira’s case and many others. Samira is to be congratulated for her persistence and determination to secure fair and equal treatment by her employer.”

READ ALSO: Cinema Goers Too Are Responsible For Bollywood’s Gender Pay Gap

Samira Ahmed’s case will be heard on three days over this week at the central London employment tribunal.

The BBC apologised to ex-China editor Carrie Gracie in 2018 admitted that she had been underpaid. The BBC has pledged to close its gender pay gap by 2020.

READ ALSO: The BBC Says Sorry To Senior Journalist 

Image Credit: The Guardian

Prapti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV

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