Fighting for writers' rights in - Writers' Guild of Great Britain

Fighting for writers' rights in - Writers' Guild of Great Britain

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Fighting for writers’ rights in...

Animation Books Film Poetry Radio Television Theatre


Videogames The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is a trade union registered at 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU


WGGB online There is lots more information on our website, which includes WGGB guidelines, rates and agreements, FAQs, a list of useful links and other resources, contacts, news, campaigns, member interviews, a members’ area, our Find A Writer directory, online joining, full details of member benefits, and much more. Throughout this guide use this icon to find the correct link to follow at








You can also follow us on Twitter @TheWritersGuild, or on Facebook




W CONTACT US Call us on 020 7833 0777 or email [email protected]



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Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

Contents 1. Introduction 2. Top 10 reasons to join WGGB 3. Working for writers in… TV Theatre Film Radio Books Animation Videogames 4. Events and awards 5. WGGB in action 6. WGGB in your region 7. Member benefits/how to join

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Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

Introduction This booklet will tell you all you need to know about The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), the TUC-affiliated trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames. Our members also include emerging and aspiring writers (known as our Candidate Members). We have been negotiating better pay and working conditions for writers since 1959. The national agreements we have in place cover key employers, including the BBC, ITV, National Theatre, Royal Court and Royal Shakespeare Company. We have attracted high-profile members throughout our 55-year history, and continue to do so today. Their names include, among many others: Screenwriters Steven Moffat, Mike Leigh, Victoria Wood, Jane Goldman, Emma Thompson, Richard Curtis and Andrew Davies; playwrights Tom Stoppard, Alan Ayckbourn and Mike Bartlett; authors Caitlin Moran, Tony Robinson, Stella Duffy, Neil Gaiman, Sandi Toksvig and David Nicholls.

We lobby and campaign on behalf of writers, to ensure their voices are heard in a rapidly changing digital landscape, and we wield considerable influence over politicians in Westminster, Brussels, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and beyond. We offer a range of benefits to our members, including free training, contract vetting, a pension scheme, Welfare Fund, entry to our Find A Writer directory, a weekly ebulletin, plus member-only events and discounts and a dedicated area of our website. If you are a writer in one of the areas we represent, we look forward to welcoming you, too. Full information on joining can be found on page 17, and there is an application form at the end of this booklet. “Perhaps the best example of reach into the new economy is the well-established Writers’ Guild of Great Britain which goes some way to bringing worker representation to the expanding online world, videogames and creative content of all sorts.” Journalist, aCademiC, Banker and former Blair speeCHWriter pHilip Collins, WritinG on ‘tomorroW’s trade unions’ in ideas maGazine PROSPECT


Top 10 reasons to join WGGB pay






WGGB negotiates agreements on pay with major industry bodies, including BBC, ITV, UK Theatre, ITC and Pact. The more members we have, the stronger we are as a union, and the more we can push for improved deals. deCent Conditions WGGB agreements also cover writers’ working conditions, and the terms of their contracts. These include a wide range of issues – from bullying to rehearsal attendance – and protect writers from exploitation. ContraCt vettinG WGGB provides a contract vetting service for Full and Candidate Members. It is run by WGGB staff and outsourced to external contract vetters when necessary. support and adviCe Writing can be an isolated profession. As a WGGB member, you will receive the full backing of a professionally run trade union, including advice from our experienced staff, fellow members and, where required, specialist media lawyers. Networking events give you the chance to meet and share issues with fellow writers.

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain



pension Full Members working in film, TV or radio can join the WGGB pension scheme. This requires that the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or an independent production company pays an employer’s contribution of between 6% and 8% of their fee directly into their pension fund. free and disCounted TRAINING As a member of WGGB you are eligible for free training through the Federation of Entertainment Unions. This includes workshops and online tutorials on a wide variety of skills useful in your freelance career – from building your own website and utilising social media to negotiating contracts and keeping your finances in order. WGGB members in Wales are also eligible for discounted training via CULT Cymru, plus there is a 10% discount off course fees at Birkbeck University.




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otHer perks and disCounts These include a free British Library Reader Pass, plus discounts off tickets at selected theatres, Black List and Script Angel services, Final Draft software, the session fee at Skyros Greek holidays, and Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and workshops. Full Members are also eligible for Cannes Accreditation, entry in the WGGB Find A Writer online directory, and to pay no joining fee for the Writers Guild of America, East or West (if they are eligible for membership). Weekly eBulletin All WGGB members receive a weekly ebulletin, sent out every Friday and packed full of news, events, jobs and writing opportunities. Get involved As a WGGB member you can join one of our craft or regional committees, or the WGGB’s decision-making body, our Executive Council. These offer a great way to participate in the running of your union and have a positive impact on writers’ lives.


a CampaiGninG union WGGB has a powerful voice in the entertainment industries and campaigns on issues that affect writers. It contributes to public debate via our lobbyists in Westminster and Europe, and has major international affiliations, which enable it to keep ahead of a rapidly changing digital landscape.



Working for writers in… television WGGB and the Personal Managers’ Association have set up Writers Digital Payments, a not-for-profit company that ensures writers get paid whenever their work is shown on digital services like BBC iPlayer. We are running a campaign, Free is NOT an Option, against unpaid development work in television and film, which has gained considerable support in writers’ meetings in Brussels and Warsaw, and in Parliament. We are tackling the issue of writers not being paid properly on BBC ‘soaps’ shadow schemes, including EastEnders, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors and have negotiated fee increases with the BBC.

We have secured significant improvements for writers affected by BBC cuts on the Doctors and Pobol y Cwm TV series. We continue to campaign against BBC proposals to cut upfront pay for children’s writers. We work collectively with other unions to combat bullying, harassment by managers and colleagues as part of the Creating Without Conflict campaign. We continue to negotiate and update our minimum terms agreements with the BBC, ITV and Pact (representing the independent producers).

Why I’m a WGGB member

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Why kay mellor oBe “I remember way back when I was a jobbing writer, a producer pushed me to change a script which was very dear to me. When I refused they told me they would go ahead and change it themselves anyway. Thankfully I was able to turn to my Writers’ Guild contract, which protected me and my work from this happening. I will forever be grateful to the Guild for this protection.”


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We negotiate minimum rates increases with UK Theatre, the Independent Theatre Council and TNC (representing the Royal Court, Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre).

We have actively supported the Playwrights’ Progress showcase for new writing; and the In Battalions campaign to highlight the damaging effects of Arts Council cuts.

We have won new rights for playwrights commissioned by UK Theatre organisations, including provisions to protect textual integrity and additional fees if their work is performed in English-language productions in non-English speaking countries.

We organise the annual Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Awards. We organise an annual Literary Managers’ Forum to discuss issues directly with theatres and touring companies.

Why I’m a WGGB member


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alan ayckbourn CBe “I belong to the Writers’ Guild because it is important that new young writers have a voice that represents them and looks after their interests. Given my years of age and experience combined with a first class agent, my concerns are looked after – not so those writers who are entering the profession. Hence my membership and support of the Writers’ Guild. We cannot afford to lose it.”


Working for writers in… film



We have negotiated a ‘locked box’ deal with the British Film Institute (BFI), to ensure that writers get a share (alongside producers and directors) of recouped income from feature films supported with Lottery Funding through the BFI Film Fund (and held in a ‘locked box’ for reinvestment in the British Film industry). We have taken a leading role in an international campaign to have the role of screenwriters recognised at film festivals, commissioning research and a detailed report, Written Into the Picture. We host networking events with Directors UK.

We have negotiated special fees for the Home Front Radio 4 drama serial until 2018. We meet regularly with the BBC to raise issues on pay and conditions for radio writers, which are enshrined in our national agreement with the corporation.

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Jack thorne “I’m proud to be a member of the Writers’ Guild, I consider it the greatest of clubs. One that seeks to represent not just one but all.”


Why Gurpreet kaur Bhatti “I believe in the union movement and the power of a collective voice to shout loudly for the good of all.”


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We are working on a Guide to Self-Publishing. Our Books Committee represents poets as well as writers of prose and deals with various issues of relevance to them.

We have revised our guidelines for games writers and those working with them. We hold events, including an annual panel event with the International Game Developers Association.

animation We have produced Guidelines for Animation Writers. We have produced a best-practice guide for industry professionals in collaboration with the Personal Managers’ Association.

“The Writers’ Guild has successfully fought attempts to cut the pay of children’s TV writers, and has updated its guidelines and developed a good practice guide for writers working in animation. It is vitally important.” WGGB memBer emma reeves

Why I’m a WGGB member


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tony robinson “We writers tend to be rather solitary people, and it can be easy to rip us off. It makes sense that we have a unified voice and agreements that can protect our interests.”


dan pinchbeck “Game writers have the capacity to deliver powerful stories that deserve to stand alongside other forms of drama, and this needs to be nurtured. That means the involvement of organisations like WGGB. I’m proud to be a game writer, and I’m proud to be a member of WGGB.”


Events and awards As well as a lively programme of regional events (see pages 14-15) WGGB hosts (or is part of) a number of annual national awards ceremonies. the Writers’ Guild awards The Writers’ Guild Awards have been celebrating writers, and writing, since they launched in 1961. They have featured high-profile winners throughout their history, and champion the importance of writers and writing to the creative industries, in the UK and abroad. the tinniswood award WGGB presents this audio drama script award each year, in partnership with the Society of Authors, at the annual BBC Audio Drama Awards. It was established in memory of English radio and TV comedy scriptwriter Peter Tinniswood, who died in 2003.

WG olwen Wymark theatre encouragement awards Our Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Awards were the brainchild of playwright Mark Ravenhill, and were set up to give WGGB members the opportunity to publicly thank those who have provided them with a positive experience in new writing over the previous year. other national events Our annual forum of theatre literary managers and a videogames panel event are some of the other highlights in our calendar. Further details of all our events are on our website.

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WGGB in action The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain campaigns and lobbies on behalf of writers, both in the UK and abroad. In the UK we have tackled issues including unpaid development work in TV, bullying and harassment in the creative industries, lack of visibility of screenwriters at film festivals, the effects of arts funding cuts, and in support of a properly funded BBC. As a member of organisations like the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds and the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe we attend regular events abroad to address issues including copyright and collective management.

WGGB rates and aGreements We negotiate rates and national agreements for writers – it’s at the heart of what we do. These protect writers’ pay, and also the conditions under which they work. Our rates and agreements cover TV, theatre, radio and some sections of film. They benefit all writers working in those areas, and not just our members. Where we don’t have an agreement in place (for example, in books, poetry, animation and videogames), we produce best-practice guidelines – for writers, and those working with them. We also offer all our members, whatever level of membership, bespoke advice on their pay and contracts.


WGGB in your region nortH West (merseyside, manCHester & lanCasHire)

Successful events have included a collaboration and Q&A in Liverpool with Creative England. West midlands

We have campaigned against library cuts. We have held an exclusive Archers event, exploring a controversial floods storyline. We have held events/talks at the Birmingham Literature Festival and the Writers’ Toolkit annual networking event. We work with local organisations including Campaign for Regional Broadcasting West Midlands, the BBC, the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Television Society, Arts Connect, Writing West Midlands, the Society of Authors, Birmingham Rep and more. Wales

We have regular meetings with Arts Council Wales. We continue to negotiate on behalf of writers on the Welsh-language soap Pobol y Cwm. We organise events for writers with guest speakers, including from Ffilm Cymru Wales. WGGB is a partner union in CULT Cymru, which provides training, advice and support to people in the creative industries in Wales and offers discounts for union members.

soutH West (CornWall & devon)

We are planning to bring together members of WGGB and the actors’ union Equity for socials, collaborations, networking events and creative projects.


Writers’ Guild of Great Britain


We hold a stand and information seminar at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We are part of the Literature Forum for Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Entertainment Unions, and the Cross-Party Parliamentary Group on Culture. We have been involved in the Scottish Film Summit.

yorksHire & nortH east

We hold popular events like So You Want To Work In Videogames?

east midlands

Events have included a WGGB presence at the University of Nottingham’s Writers’ Conference.

london & soutH east

We hold events for members in the capital and also outside, eg Brighton. We have also established the popular Meet the Agents evenings. We have sponsored and have a stand at London Screenwriters’ Festival. soutH West (Wessex)

A relatively new WGGB region, due to boundary changes that have made Swindon part of the London & South East area, and Gloucester and Cheltenham part of West Midlands.


Member benefits at a glance

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free contract vetting support and advice Weekly ebulletin member discounts member events WGGB pension scheme* entry in the find a Writer directory members-only area of the WGGB website free and discounted training Welfare fund**

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*The WGGB pension scheme is open to Full Members working in the areas of film, TV and radio. **Eligibility criteria apply.


Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

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Which membership tier are you? full memBer To be eligible for Full Membership writers must have had work produced or published under a WGGB-negotiated contract or equivalent industry-standard terms (please contact us if you are unsure about eligibility – see page 2 for contact details). Membership costs £198 for the first year or £16.50 per month. Candidate memBer For those working towards a writing career. Membership costs £108 per year or £9 per month and Candidate Members upgrade to Full Membership when they get professional credits.

How to join Membership of WGGB costs as little as £9 per month and you can join in the following ways:




affiliate memBer Agents, technical advisers, consultants etc engaged in a professional relationship with writers. Membership costs £300 per annum or £25 per month. *If applying with a cheque you DO NOT have to fill in the Direct Debit form.


Join online with a credit or debit card. Go to join-renew/ By cheque. Detach the application form at the back of this booklet, fill it in and return it with your cheque (made payable with the correct amount to Writers’ Guild of Great Britain), to WGGB, 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU.* By instalments via Direct Debit. Detach the application form and Direct Debit mandate at the back of this booklet. Fill in both of these and return to WGGB, 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU. You can also download a Direct Debit/ application form online. Choose your correct membership tier and then follow the links at join-renew/ If you would like to pay with credit or debit card over the phone, please call the WGGB Membership Officer on 020 3372 8406.


design by produced and published by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, 134 tooley street, london se1 2tu in september 2015 The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has made every effort to ensure that the content in this booklet is correct at the time of publication, but cannot take any responsibility for any loss arising out of use of the information in this booklet. The content in this booklet is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as constituting legal or business advice or opinion. Legal and business advice should be sought and taken in relation to the specific circumstances of each case and nothing appearing here is intended to be a substitute for obtaining specific legal and/or business advice from a competent professional.

photo credits: P4 (clockwise from top left): Novi;; Bogdan; Sleath; p9 © Andrew Higgins; p11 © Simon Annand; p12 © WGGB/Guy Cragoe

If you require a large-print or text-only version of this booklet, please email [email protected] or phone 020 7833 0777


Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

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The  Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is a trade union registered at 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU



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Membership categories and fees

Please tick the appropriate box:

Full Membership £198 pa /£16.50 pm for the first year To be eligible writers must have had work produced or published under a WGGB-negotiated contract or equivalent industry-standard terms. Please provide proof of eligibility for Full Membership, list your professional writing credits below or attach a list with this application (please contact us if you are unsure about eligibility).

Candidate Membership £108 pa /£9 pm For those working towards a writing career.

Affiliate Membership £300 pa /£25 pm For agents, technical advisers, consultants etc engaged in a professional relationship with writers.

All information on this form will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be made available to officers and staff of the union.

Signature Date Please return this form with a subscription cheque or completed Direct Debit form (overleaf) to: Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Membership, 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU (cheques should be payable to Writers’ Guild of Great Britain) 21

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