On 19 July, the BBC released [pdf] details of all their staff earning over £150,000 a year. Nearly all the presenters of the Radio 4‘s Today programme are on the list. And on the same day, presenter Mishal Husain, who earns between £200,000 and £250,000, questioned whether carers should be paid the minimum wage for night shifts.
The salaries published are eye-watering. Journalists such as Laura Kuenssberg, who is better known for misrepresenting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is paid between £200,000 and £250,000.
Meanwhile, other Today presenters pocketing huge sums include [pdf]:
John Humphrys, who earns £600,000-£650,000.
Nick Robinson, whose salary is £200,000-£250,000.
Justin Webb, who takes home £100,000-£150,000.
James Naughtie, who’s on £100,000 – £150,000.
Following two employment tribunals, carers are now supposed to be paid the minimum wage for night shifts. This includes times when workers are sleeping but are on call. HMRC is now chasing charities such as Mencap for outstanding back pay for workers. Mencap claims that this bill is around £400m and that it could lead to “serious financial difficulty” for care providers.
But Mencap is not saying that the money shouldn’t be paid. It is arguing that the money should come from local authorities who commissioned the care services in the first place. And it also says that it’s now paying the minimum wage for night shifts.
The BBC interview
Christina McAnea, Assistant General Secretary of Unison, was interviewed on the Today programme. She agreed [2:33:00] that it was an issue of funding and that:
All roads lead back to Downing Street. Because it is about funding for local government and funding for social care, and that’s been drastically cut in the past… seven years.
But she also pointed out that the case was first brought in 2013, so charities and providers have had plenty of warning about the change. And she said that some organisations have been paying the wage since 2014 when the first decision was made.
Regardless of whether the person is sitting at someone’s bedside all night having to care for them through the night or they are asleep – perhaps in even another room with a monitor – for you there is no difference? … A carer might have a totally undisturbed night of sleep, but you think that should be paid at exactly the same per hour as the kind where you’re sitting up with someone?
It is exactly the same. Because they can’t chose to leave. They can’t pop home to see their family… So it is very much a job, and people should be getting paid to actually be there. And they do get up during the night to care for people…
Carers do incredibly difficult, underpaid and undervalued work. Jessica Gentry, a carer, highlighted this in a post that went viral in January 2017:
So tonight I stayed with a man waiting for an ambulance to come suspected stroke, helped a lady down some stairs she should not have been near, gave about 15 lots of medication, helped a man being sick and supported his wife to make it easier for her, made about 25 cups of tea, 14 slices of toast, locked 17 doors, shut about 50 lots of curtains, checked heating would come on through the night so they were not cold, reassured patients with dementia for the f****** s*** 20 minutes we get.
Spoke to 17 elderly people most alone and yearn for human contact and conversation and all while driving around skidding in the white stuff looking after YOUR family’s and they call us JUST carers.
Come on Theresa May surely we should be on more money than minimum wage, only a sister in a ward can give medication but because of money you will allow carers to give medication who have an average of 4 hours training.
Carers, and the rest of us on normal or low salaries, have to listen regularly to BBC presenters on six figure salaries question whether the minimum wage should be paid. Meanwhile, no one is asking the Today presenters whether they should be paid extortionate amounts of citizens’ money for asking such questions.
The next time you hear BBC presenters misrepresent or question tax rises, workers’ rights, and strike action, it’s worth remembering these salaries; and asking whose interests they are really representing.
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