Writers from across the UK gathered at our third online AGM on Wednesday 6 July.
The past year has been another busy one for union staff and activists, advocating for writers in TV, film, theatre, audio, books, animation, comedy and videogames.
Hot topics high on the union agenda included the emergence from Covid of sectors severely affected by the pandemic, including theatre, film and TV; the continued impact of Brexit on the creative industries; and the threat to public sector broadcasting, with WGGB campaigns to Save Channel 4 from privatisation and against cuts to the BBC and an announcement of a planned ‘digital-first’ model for the corporation.
The union has also recently launched a campaign to outlaw bad practice in the ‘hybrid’/paid-for publishing sectors, spoken out about cuts to HE funding of arts subjects, and continued to put the climate crisis at the heart of everything it does.
WGGB stood with Ukraine, organising a fundraising screening of the Ukrainian version of the film Paddington earlier this year and donating £5,000 from union funds to support Ukrainian writers affected by the conflict.
This past year also saw the launch of the landmark New Play Commission Scheme, designed to respond to the decline in new theatre commissions in the pandemic, and a major survey into the experiences of ethnically diverse screenwriters, which will inform the second phase of the Equality Writes campaign.
Other recent union wins for writers, including negotiations on pay and conditions, the launch of new best practice guidelines, and details of WGGB’s successful events and annual awards programme, can be found in the annual report.
Looking to the future, attendees at the AGM heard how the union was in an excellent position, thanks to strong recruitment, robust finances and an expansion in office staff, with a continued emphasis on the organising agenda which will allow WGGB to harness the impressive growth in activism among elected reps across the nations, regions and various craft areas. High on the list for the future was the strengthening of national agreements for writers, with particular emphasis on SVOD and PACT.
Ellie Peers, whose recent re-election for a second term as WGGB General Secretary was announced at the AGM, said: “When we work together the sky really is the limit. We are going through tough times at the moment, but as freelancers and trade unionists, we are resilient. Together I have no doubt that we will rise above these challenges and tackle these issues head on.”
Her words were echoed by WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth who commented: “There is no doubt in my mind of the ongoing cultural vandalism taking place, as illustrated by the attacks on BBC, the attempt to privatise Channel 4 and the threats to both the BFI and Arts Council. The implications for working writers are unconscionable but, with the largest membership rise in our history and committed activists, the WGGB are more than ready for that fight.”
In her closing remarks, WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE said: “I believe in the power of the Guild – of our united voices. Let us roll up our sleeves, sharpen our quills and slay some dragons together.”
Results of recent WGGB elections were announced. The full list of WGGB Executive Council representatives will be available in the Contacts section of our website shortly.
The following vacancies still exist (members who are interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org and put the relevant vacancy in the subject field).
- North West (Merseyside)
- North West (Manchester and Lancashire)
- East Midlands
- South West (Wessex)
- South West (Devon and Cornwall)
The following motions were passed.
You can see a summary of the AGM on Twitter @TheWritersGuild #wggbagm
Photo of previous AGM: Em Fitzgerald