3k for a glint in the eye

Cis privilege strikes again.

Samira Ahmed has won her equal pay claim against the BBC in a landmark case that lawyers say could leave the broadcaster facing a bill running into the millions for similar claims by other female staff.

Ahmed, the presenter of viewer feedback programme Newswatch, claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine received for hosting the similar Points of View programme.

Ooof, that’s quite a gap.

An employment tribunal unanimously concluded that the BBC had failed to provide convincing evidence that the pay gap was for reasons other than gender discrimination, although the BBC continues to dispute this.

No, see, it wasn’t gender discrimination, it was just that he is 7 times more thrilling and charismatic and attractive to viewers than she is.

But then…why did they have her presenting at all? If she’s that much less of a draw, why not just not have her and have someone else instead?

The National Union of Journalists’ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, who backed Ahmed’s case, said there were about 20 other cases involving claims of unequal pay at the BBC heading to tribunal, while another 70 cases remained unresolved.

The 40-page tribunal judgment was damning of the broadcaster’s argument that Ahmed’s job as presenter of Newswatch was significantly different to Vine’s as a presenter of Points of View.

They dismissed the BBC’s argument that Points of View required a “cheeky” presenter such as Vine with a “glint in the eye”, concluding that there were only “minor differences” in the work the two presenters did presenting the two comparable programmes.

Not to mention the claim or implication that a glint in the eye is worth 7 times more than a glintless presenter.

In a withering assessment, they wrote: “Jeremy Vine read the script from the autocue. He read it in the tone in which it was written. If it told him to roll his eyes, he did. It did not require any particular skill or experience to do that.”

Let alone 7 times as much skill.

During the tribunal the BBC defended paying Vine substantially more than Ahmed, saying that while Newswatch required a news journalist, he was a light entertainment presenter who “would often dress up for small visual gags”. Ahmed’s legal team argued this was incorrect, as he was only known to have worn “one wig and one hat” and the jobs were in effect the same.

Again – one wig and one hat, not worth 7 times what Ahmed was paid.

High-profile presenters and campaigners hailed the decision and praised Ahmed, with the BBC host Carrie Gracie – who resigned over equal pay in 2018 – expressing her pride in Ahmed. “As for BBC bosses, time to stop digging,” she said.

The BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey also praised Ahmed, tweeting: “Just brilliant … it took real courage and she has it.”

Nah, it’s just cis courage, and that doesn’t count.

5 Responses to “3k for a glint in the eye”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting