Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More "incorrectness" from Boris

London's outspoken mayor, Boris Johnson, has caused controversy after describing the 250,000 pound ($500,000) second salary he earns for writing a newspaper column as "chicken feed".

Workers on London's transport network, which ultimately is headed by the mayor, reacted angrily to Johnson's comments, which he made in an interview with the BBC.

"Transport workers in London will look at Boris Johnson's claim that 250,000 pounds a year for moonlighting in a second job is 'chickenfeed' and wonder just what planet he's living on," said Bob Crow, the head of the RMT transport union.

"Our members working as cleaners on London Underground, who have been denied the London Living Wage that was promised them by Boris Johnson, will be especially angry when they are out there doing dirty jobs for little more than six pounds an hour."

Johnson, who attended Britain's elite Eton College and Oxford University and was a Conservative member of parliament, also earns a regular mayoral salary of 140,000 pounds a year. The average annual wage in Britain is about 25,000 pounds.

In the BBC interview, Johnson was asked whether he thought having a second job paying 250,000 pounds a year was appropriate alongside his busy mayoral role. He dismissed the amount as "chicken feed".

"I don't presume to ask what you earn from the taxpayer and frankly there's absolutely no reason at all why I should not on a Sunday morning, before I do whatever else I need to do on a Sunday morning, should not knock off an article," he said.

Johnson's secondary work, which amounts to about 5,000 pounds per article, is unlikely to go down well with workers in London, where the average earnings are about 630 pounds a week, according to the national statistics office.

Johnson has caused controversy before, angering the residents of Liverpool after describing them as having a "deeply unattractive psyche" and once referring to "flag-waving piccaninnies", a remark that drew accusations of racism.

Asked to comment on Johnson's latest faux-pas, the mayor's office said it had no statement to make.

Johnson's views are unlikely to sit well with Conservative party leader David Cameron. In an effort to make the party seem less elitist, Cameron has called on senior Conservative MPs to give up their second jobs.

Johnson said he had no intention of giving up his newspaper column, saying he was not in the Conservative shadow cabinet and therefore did not need to.

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