MPs call on BBC to resolve unequal pay claims at corporation
9 January 2018
Members of the NUJ are being asked to persuade their MP to sign an early day motion (EDM) in support of the BBC's former China editor, Carrie Gracie, and pay equality at the BBC.
The EDM calls for the government to address pay equality across the media and broadcasting industries and to impose effective sanctions on employers who flout equal pay legislation.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the equalities watchdog, has now said it will be writing to the BBC to seek answers about allegations of pay discrimination following the resignation of Carrie Gracie over its “secretive and illegal” pay culture, saying: “We will be writing to the BBC and requiring them to provide us with information on their pay policy and the facts in this individual case. We will consider whether further action is required based on this information.”
During an urgent question in the House of Commons, called by Hannah Bardell, SNP MP for Livingston, Damian Collins, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, said he would be inviting Lord Hall, director general of the BBC, to account for the corporation's gender pay policy.
Hannah Bardell said she had been "shocked and saddened" by the letter published by Carrie Grace, who has now returned to the BBC newsroom. Other MPs, including Harriet Harman, praised the journalist for her "principled stand". The BBC also came under fire for using its impartiality rules to gag BBC journalists who had tweeted or showed support for Carrie Grace from reporting on the story.
Matt Hancock, in his first outing as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since the Cabinet reshuffle, said he welcomed the intervention of the EHRC and said the government must take credit for increasing transparency over pay at the BBC, by forcing it to publish the list of those on air who are paid more than £150,000. He said the results, which revealed that two-thirds of those on the list were men and the low number of BAME journalists, showed why the corporation had been resistant to publishing the list. He also criticised the level of pay of some men at the BBC, including the international editors who are paid more than ambassadors in the same countries covered.
Tom Watson, shadow culture minister, said there should be pay equality throughout the BBC, including contractors and those working for BBC Studios. He said it was also incumbent on other broadcasting organisations to be a transparent as the BBC.
Early day motion 751
CARRIE GRACIE AND PAY EQUALITY AT THE BBC
That this House believes that the resignation of Carrie Gracie, the former China editor of the BBC, highlights the anger and frustration of many women journalists at the BBC that a swifter resolution has not been reached to the scourge of unequal pay at our public service broadcaster; notes that figures published in 2017 revealed that the BBC's two male international editors have been paid, at least 50 per cent more, than its two female counterparts; further notes that of the list of those earning over £150,000, only a third were women and just 10 of the 96 were black or minority ethnic backgrounds; supports the National Union of Journalists in pursuing a collective grievance on behalf of 121 women who work across the BBC in a variety of roles and grades, on top of a number of individual cases that were already in train; calls for urgent government action so that pay equality is addressed across the media and broadcasting industries more generally and that effective sanctions are served on employers who flout equal pay legislation.
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