Tuesday 25 June 2019

BBC staff protest over pay on International Women’s Day

Workers stood outside Broadcasting House and chanted as they posed for photographers.

Journalist Carrie Gracie (centre) and BBC employees gather outside Broadcasting House (John Stillwell/PA)
Journalist Carrie Gracie (centre) and BBC employees gather outside Broadcasting House (John Stillwell/PA)

By Aine Fox, Press Association

The BBC has said it is determined to “lead the way” when it comes to equal pay, after staff gathered outside the corporation’s headquarters on International Women’s Day demanding action.

Journalists including the chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet and Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey stood holding sheets of paper displaying equal signs as they chanted “Equal pay for equal work”.

A huge cheer went up for Carrie Gracie, who resigned as BBC China editor earlier this year over pay inequalities, as she was brought to the front of the crowd outside Broadcasting House.

She told the Press Association: “Yes it was great to see so many people, and it’s great to see so many men. Isn’t that cool?

“And it just makes the point that this is not like some people have presented it as a small group of entitled women.

“This is like, a lot of people at all levels of the BBC feel very strongly about equal pay.”

The women said they chose to stand at 4.22pm, 9% short of a standard 9-5pm working day, to symbolise a 9% gender pay gap at the BBC.

Ms Gracie said the demonstration was “not about me, it’s about sisterhood”.

After being photographed alongside her colleagues – mainly female, but some male – she added: “It’s about a movement and I hope the strength of feeling is clear to everybody.

“A picture is worth a thousand words. Everyone’s out here. That says it all.”

Asked if she thought it would make a difference, she said: “I hope so.”

Ms Doucet said it is time, in 2018, to “respect the laws and principles of the time in which we live”.

She added: “It’s not just the BBC. We happen to work for the BBC but this goes across the society and across the world. I think around the world women are saying, it’s 2018 and it’s time for change.”

On the timing of the demonstration, she said: “Today all of us have left from our desks at approximately the time that our work stops being paid.”

A review commissioned by the BBC and published in January found there was “no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making”.

A spokeswoman for the corporation said: “The BBC is committed to closing the gender pay gap by 2020, which we’re already underway with addressing.

“While the BBC’s gender pay gap is around half the national average, we have a special role in representing Britain and are determined to lead the way.”

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