Union officials in Great Britain are demanding that BBC fire one of its TV presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, over comments he made about striking public sector workers.
During an appearance on the ‘The One Show’ on Wednesday, the TV star and newspaper columnist suggested that strikers should be executed in front of their families for inconveniencing the British public at large with their industrial action.
Up to 2-million state employees staged rallies across Britain on Wednesday to protest the government’s plan to change pension schemes and raise the retirement age.
When asked about the striking workers by the hosts, Clarkson said: I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.
Referring to the pension plans, Clarkson said: I mean, how dare they go on strike when they've got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?
BBC said it received about 4,700 complains about Clarkson -- the star of a show called ‘Top Gear,” who is believed to earn about £1 million ($1.57-million) annually.
Although BBC quickly issued an apology for Clarkson’s remarks, UNISON, the country’s largest trade union, is apparently not satisfied, and is considering taking legal action against him over his “appalling” comments.
“Clarkson’s comments… were totally outrageous, and they cannot be tolerated,” said Dave Prentis, UNISON’s general-secretary, in a statement.
“We are seeking urgent legal advice about what further action we can take against him and the BBC, and whether or not his comments should be referred to the police. Public sector workers and their families are utterly shocked by Jeremy Clarkson’s revolting comments. We know that many other license-fee payers share our concerns about his outrageous views. The One Show is broadcast at a time when children are watching -- they could have been scared and upset by his aggressive statements. An apology is not enough -- we are calling on the BBC to sack Jeremy Clarkson immediately. Such disgusting statements have no place on our TV screens.”
Prentis added: “Clarkson clearly needs a reminder of just who he is talking about when he calls for public sector workers to be shot in front of their families. Whilst he is driving round in fast cars for a living, public sector workers are busy holding our society together - they save others’ lives on a daily basis, they care for the sick, the vulnerable, the elderly. They wipe bottoms, noses, they help children to learn, and empty bins – they deserve all our thanks – certainly not the unbelievable level of abuse he threw at them.”
Politicians also weighed in on the controversy.
Prime Minister David Cameron told ITV that Clarkson’s remarks were “silly,” but added “I'm sure he didn't mean it.”
However, BBC reported, Labour Party chief Ed Milliband said: Clarkson should apologize for those comments. He obviously does not understand the lives of the people who were going out on strike yesterday.
According to the Scottish Daily Record, Ian Murray, a Labour MP in Scotland, also blasted Clarkson: The BBC have punished highly paid stars in the past, like Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand when they made comments on air that were unacceptable.
Also, The Daily Record noted, Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, said: No one wants these strikes but most strikers are mums, not militants. Clarkson should apologize. And the Prime Minister should make clear he disassociates himself from these distasteful remarks by one of his friends.