BBC Scot­land boss says deal­ing with ‘bruis­ing’ equal pay cases has taken too long

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By KATRINE BUSSEY

The BBC has taken too long to deal with “bruis­ing” equal pay cases, a se­nior fig­ure at the cor­po­ra­tion has con­ceded.

Don­alda Mackin­non, di­rec­tor of BBC Scot­land, said bosses were “in­tent on fix­ing” a sit­u­a­tion she said was “not good enough”.

Ad­dress­ing Holyrood’s cul­ture com­mit­tee yes­ter­day, she said: “We have been deal­ing with these equal pay cases and many other pay in­quiries over the course of the last two years.

“In this last year I have to ad­mit the process has taken too long. I think it has been a bruis­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for those who have been in­volved in it, who have raised queries about their pay, and I thor­oughly re­gret that.

“We are do­ing our best to deal with these cases, to ex­am­ine them thor­oughly. That can take time be­cause you can be deal­ing with some pay cases that go back decades.

“But I do think we are in­tent on fix­ing this sit­u­a­tion. It is not good enough, it is one I per­son­ally wish we didn’t have.”

Glyn Ish­er­wood, group fi­nance and op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor for the BBC, said across the

cor­po­ra­tion as a whole some 1,300 pay queries were be­ing dealt with, many as a re­sult of a new frame­work aimed at mak­ing salaries more trans­par­ent.

These in­clude 74 cases raised in Scot­land, he said, with only a “hand­ful” of them out­stand­ing.

He told the com­mit­tee: “The rea­son we don’t want to go into an ex­act num­ber is it is such a small num­ber we don’t want to re­late it to in­di­vid­u­als.”

Com­mit­tee con­vener Joan Mcalpine said that in some cases, the “dice were loaded” against fe­male staff com­plain­ing about their salary.

She said: “There is con­cern, cer­tainly amongst the peo­ple I have spo­ken to, that you are not treat­ing enough of these cases as equal pay cases and the dice are loaded against the women, be­cause the BBC are em­ploy­ing HR spe­cial­ists and lawyers to deal with this and the women fight­ing the cases don’t have that ad­van­tage.”

With bosses from the broad­caster ap­pear­ing be­fore MSPS for the first time since the new BBC Scot­land chan­nel was launched, Ms Mackin­non said they were “very proud” of what it has achieved

Steve Car­son, head of mul­ti­plat­form com­mis­sion­ing at BBC Scot­land, said the new chan­nel had a greater reach in terms of the num­ber of peo­ple tun­ing in each week than “house­hold names [such as E4 and Sky One] that have been long es­tab­lished and have very sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket­ing bud­gets”.

He added: “On some week­nights we out per­form Chan­nel 5, Chan­nel 4 and BBC 2.”

The equal pay tri­bunal brought by pre­sen­ter Samira Ahmed against the BBC has mean­while ended.

The rul­ing of the cen­tral Lon­don em­ploy­ment tri­bunal has been re­served and is set to be pub­lished at a later date, ac­cord­ing to the BBC.

Ms Ahmed, who presents Newswatch, is seek­ing nearly £700,000 from the BBC in an equal pay claim.

“There is con­cern, cer­tainly ... that you are not treat­ing enough of these cases as equal pay cases and the dice are loaded against the women” JOAN MCALPINE Holyrood cul­ture com­mit­tee con­vener

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