How we decide to comment and share

We are regularly asked to comment publicly or release a statement about our position on a broad range of subjects. We are also regularly asked to share third-party information on behalf of other organisations or individuals. Deciding when and how to comment or share information publicly is not always clear cut and we take a number of factors into consideration.

Some of these include:

  • Our remit as a trade union, including the rules that govern us, for example WGGB is not affiliated to any political party. Is another organisation or individual better placed to comment, or would a statement have greater impact if made in partnership with other organisations?
  • Our knowledge and influence – do we know enough and will a comment or statement from us influence the issue or challenge?
  • What is the likely impact or outcome of a public statement?
  • Will our membership be broadly in agreement on the issue or challenge, and with the wording of any statement?
  • Will our members benefit from a statement raising awareness of an issue?
  • Would it be better to intervene privately and directly on behalf of a member or indeed with an organisation who can effect change?
  • How much staff capacity can we spare and how much would that take away from WGGB’s core work?
  • Can we respond in a meaningful timeframe?
  • Will a statement or comment risk making a situation worse or provoke hate? We also need to consider any legal and reputational risks of releasing a statement or comment.
  • Will a statement from the WGGB unintentionally endorse an opinion, product or service?
  • Will releasing a seemingly uncontentious statement or comment in one case create an expectation that we would comment on all such cases in the future?

We consider all requests carefully and will always enter into private dialogue and provide a clear explanation of our decision-making process and position to any member who asks us.

We will not engage in public debate on our reasons for responding – or not – on any issue.

When we comment

Our remit as a trade union is to negotiate better terms and conditions for UK writers, and to lobby and campaign to improve the industries in which they work.

As a small specialised union with limited resources, we need to focus our actions where we can make a positive difference.

  • Most of our communications focus on WGGB-related activities – from news of successful negotiations to our campaigns and lobbying activity. We also publicise events and awards that we run and ways that members can get actively involved in their union.
  • Sometimes we communicate about joint campaigns or initiatives with other organisations and where we do so this is usually the result of a decision by our Executive Committee, consisting of democratically elected members.
  • We support individual members in confidence, but never in the public domain, and we don’t comment on individual cases we are representing.
  • We are sometimes invited to comment publicly on issues of a more general political nature, or not directly or primarily related to writers – we generally do not comment on areas outside our core remit.

When we share

We mainly share information relating to the WGGB – this falls into the categories of WGGB news and third-party campaigns or other initiatives we have made a formal decision to support (usually via our EC). We will comment on items in the news but ONLY where this relates to our remit and agreed policy – for example we will comment on arts funding cuts, attempts to privatise public service broadcasters, and so on.

We don’t share third-party discounts or events or other initiatives, unless we have formally decided to endorse them.

Writing opportunities – including jobs and competitions – are shared in our weekly newsletter to members and not on other channels, and we reserve the right to choose which ones we promote in our newsletter. We only promote those with fair terms for writers.

We are under no obligation to share everything we are asked to, even when the request comes from a close strategic partner or member.

We share writers’ work in our weekly newsletter and on our Facebook page, but not on our other channels.

Who speaks for the WGGB?

Our spokespeople include our General Secretary and Chair. From time to time other members of staff may speak on behalf of WGGB. Individual craft, national or regional committee members do not speak for WGGB unless this has been expressly agreed beforehand.

When our elected officials speak for the WGGB it is only under these circumstances:

  • This has been agreed in advance by the WGGB
  • They have been briefed in advance by the WGGB .
  • It is explicit in the communication that they are speaking on the behalf of the WGGB – for example they will be quoted in a print or broadcast story as WGGB Chair xxxxx.

In all other circumstances, the individual is commenting in a personal capacity.

We advise staff and volunteer reps and officials to use a disclaimer on all their personal channels – including their social media accounts and websites – to make clear that their comments are made in a personal capacity.

The WGGB does not police the internet and has no desire to restrict individuals’ use of online platforms or free expression in a personal capacity.

Freedom of expression

WGGB membership includes writers from all backgrounds and career levels across TV, film, theatre, audio, books, poetry, comedy, animation and videogames. Our members therefore have a wide range of experience and opinion. We support all members in their business as writers, regardless of what they believe or create, as long as it is lawful. Our approach to protecting freedom of expression and preventing harassment and threats is as follows:

  • We support the right of all writers to hold and express opinions.
  • We condemn violence and the threat of violence unequivocally.
  • We condemn any kind of racist or hate speech.
  • We request professional behaviour from WGGB members when interacting with the WGGB and others on WGGB business.
  • We do not get publicly involved in individual debates or arguments between writers, though we of course provide union advice and support for all members if they are in contractual, copyright or defamation disputes with other writers.
  • We do not speak out publicly on individual cases, unless we choose to do so in cases where there is a principle that will affect all writers and we have permission to reference that individual case.
  • We deplore bullying, trolling and personal attacks on writers.
  • On request from members who are targeted, we will always, where appropriate, provide private, individual support and guidance – both emotional and practical – including correspondence with employers.
  • We support Society of London Theatre’s Principles for safe and inclusive workplace
  • We support and helped develop BAFTA and BFI’s Principles for the prevention of bullying and harassment in the screen industries.
  • Creating Without Conflict is our join union campaign with our sister entertainment unions and includes various sets of guidance and resources to address bullying and harassment in the creative industries.