Presenter Samira Ahmed was cheered as she arrived at a tribunal where she will question why the BBC paid her less than a male colleague for what she said is a “very similar job”.
The Radio 4 presenter is taking the corporation to an employment tribunal this week regarding alleged “failure to provide equal pay for equal value work”, according to court documents.
Ms Ahmed is asking why she was paid £465 per episode of Newswatch – an audience-led critique of coverage by BBC News – while Jeremy Vine, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said, was paid up to £3,000 for each episode of Points Of View, work Ms Ahmed described as comparable.
The BBC disagrees and their legal team will argue that the two presenters were not doing similar work.
Ms Ahmed arrived at the Central London Employment Tribunal building with a large group of supporters, including fellow BBC presenter Naga Munchetty and members of the NUJ, which is backing the case. The group cheered for her as she walked inside.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Ms Ahmed said: “I love my job on Newswatch despite it being difficult and challenging.
“On the back of my BBC ID card are written the BBC values which include ‘we respect each other and celebrate our diversity’ and ‘we take pride in delivering quality and value for money’.
“I just ask why the BBC thinks I am worth only a sixth of the value of the work of a man for doing a very similar job.”
Ms Ahmed has also been backed by broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, lawyer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The scourge of unequal pay has no place in our public service broadcaster and that’s why the NUJ is backing Samira’s case and many others.
“Unfortunately, despite Samira going through a lengthy and frustrating internal process in the hope that a sensible solution could be achieved, the BBC has not resolved this case and it will now be for the tribunal to determine whether this monumental pay gap is appropriate and defensible.
“Samira is to be congratulated for her persistence and determination to secure fair and equal treatment by her employer.”
Ms Ahmed has been among the female talents at the BBC to voice their concerns over pay equality following the outcry over former China editor Carrie Gracie’s salary.
Ms Ahmed, who also presents Radio 4’s Front Row, previously said she felt “hugely bullied” over her employment status at the BBC.
In a statement, a BBC spokesman said: “The BBC is committed to equal pay. Points Of View is an entertainment programme with a long history and is a household name with the public.
“Newswatch – while an important programme – isn’t.
“Samira was paid the same as her male predecessor when she began presenting Newswatch.
“Gender has not been a factor in levels of pay for Points Of View. News and entertainment are very different markets and pay across the media industry reflects this.”
The hearing, to be held at the Central London Employment Tribunal, is listed to last for seven days.