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Equal pay case against BBC heads for tribunal

BBC presenter and journalist Samira Ahmed is taking the company to an employment tribunal. She claims to have been paid 85% less than a male colleague who did the same type of work.

Ms Ahmed has presented Newswatch since 2012. She is asking for hundreds of thousands of pounds in back pay because she was paid significantly less than her male colleague Jeremy Vine for his work on Points of View.

Between 2008 and 2018 Jeremy Vine was paid £3,000 for each episode of Points of View. In January 2018 his pay was reduced to £1,300 per episode. Ms Ahmed only received £440 per episode.

While her pay was increased to £465 for each episode in 2015 it was later reduced again when the BBC made their presenters work on employment contracts.

Ms Ahmed is being supported by the National Union of Journalists who commented that both Ms Ahmed and Jeremy Vine were doing work of equal value. Both worked on programmes which were led by presenters and both programmes were under 15 minutes in length.

Ms Ahmed stated that there is a sense of pride in working for a public service broadcaster who strive to represent Britain’s diversity.

The ID cards of all the BBC employers have the BBC values written on the backs. These state that ‘we respect each other and celebrate our diversity, and take pride in delivering quality and value for money.’ Ms Ahmed wondered why the BBC would think that she was only worth one sixth of the value of a male colleague doing a similar job.

For her work on Radio 4’s Front Row and Radio 3’s Night Waves and Free Thinking, Ms Ahmed had previously reached an agreement with the BBC for backpay because her male colleague was paid 50% more than she was. On Night Waves he received 33% more than she did.

A BBC spokesperson commented that Points of View is an entertainment programme. It has a long history and has become a household name while Newswatch – while it is an important programme – is not a household name.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet stated that unequal pay should not have any place in any public service broadcasters and for that reason they backed Ms Ahmed. They have also supported many others.

Even though it has been a lengthy and frustrating internal path for Ms Ahmed the BBC has still not resolved it and it is now up to the tribunal to decide whether the monumental pay gap is appropriate and acceptable.

The NUJ spokesperson said that Ms Ahmed is to be congratulated on her determination to secure equal treatment from the BBC.

The BBC commented that they are ‘committed to equal pay.’ Points of View has a long history of entertainment value as well as being a household name, which, unfortunately Newswatch did not have.

Ms Ahmed was paid the same as her predecessor when she began presenting Newswatch. News and entertainment focus on two entirely different markets and the pay brackets address this factor.

The tribunal continues.

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