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BBC Scotland boss says corporation taking 'too long' to resolve equal pay issues

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

Donalda MacKinnon (pictured), director of BBC Scotland, said bosses are “intent on fixing” a situation she said is “not good enough”.

Addressing Holyrood’s Culture Committee this morning, 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 are 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 such a small number we don’t want to relate it to individuals.”

Committee convener Joan McAlpine claimed 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.”

The BBC is currently fighting an equal pay case against Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed at a London employment tribunal.

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

“More than one in six of audiences in Scotland are watching the channel every week,” she said.

“Requests to view our programmes on the iPlayer have risen by more than 100 per cent this year to more than 50m.

“And crucially, the channel is adding unique reach for the BBC in Scotland, most notably amongst younger audiences.

“Although it’s early days into the channel, and we still have challenges in some aspects of the schedule, we’re delighted that our new child is doing well and we believe it will continue to grow its audience and gain industry plaudits.”

Steve Carson, head of multi-platform 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: “Quite regularly some nights of the week we are outperforming Channel 5, Channel 4 and BBC 2.”

Picture: BBC

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