The 155th annual TUC Congress takes place this week at Liverpool Waterfront.
Congress is the policy-making body of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and motions are proposed and discussed to form the basis of the TUC’s work for the next year.
The high-profile event – widely regarded as the first big set piece occasion after the summer break and before the party conference season – is usually attended by around 600 delegates from 48 affiliated unions. It sees around 3,000 people take part in debates, the fringe, exhibits or to report on the proceedings.
This year, a delegation from WGGB is attending and proposing the following motion, which will be moved by WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE, on the morning of Wednesday 13 September.
Motion 10 Streaming and fair pay for writers
Congress recognises the global success of subscription video on demand (SVOD) providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV+ and subscription audio on demand providers such as Audible. These companies have hundreds of millions of subscribers globally, generating tens of billions of pounds.
However, the writers who create the stories which appear on these platforms are not being adequately remunerated for their work.
SVOD providers regularly engage writers on ‘buy-out’ agreements requiring them to sign away all intellectual property and copyright to their work. Meaning they do not receive any additional remuneration, even if their shows become international hits, and they cannot use their work to create theatre shows, books or audio content based on their creations. This differs from the long-standing collectively bargained agreements the WGGB has in TV, film, audio and theatre, which all contain royalty payments.
Many writers rely on royalty payments to keep afloat when they are not working. The increased use of non-collectively bargained buy-out agreements risks writing becoming a profession for only those who can afford it. As a result, the writing profession, and stories that are told will become less diverse
Congress recognises the valuable contribution writers make to the UK economy and cultural and creative sector.
Congress agrees to support the WGGB’s collective bargaining efforts, campaign for fairer pay for writers working for streaming providers and end buy-out agreements.
Congress also notes the recent Writers Guild of America strike against streamers, studios and producers, and sends our solidarity to these workers.
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Photo of Liverpool waterfront: Shutterstock.com/SAKhanphotography