Get organised: The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

24 January 2020

New year, new union? Continuing our campaign to highlight the support provided by writers’ organisations, this month we’re profiling the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is the TUC-affiliated trade union for professional writers working in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, comedy and videogames, and it also supports emerging and aspiring writers including students. Since its inception in 1959, it has been negotiating better pay and working conditions for writers and to that end has been involved in several major campaigns including Equality Writes, Free is NOT an Option and the Creating without Conflict campaign. Its current president is Sandi Toksvig OBE.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN?

By joining WGGB you will be eligible for a broad range of benefits, plus you will also support the union’s vital work on behalf of the UK writing community. Here are just some of the reasons you should join, and you can find more here.

  • Pay – WGGB negotiates agreements on pay with major industry bodies, including BBC, ITV and PACT; the Royal Court, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Decent conditions – WGGB agreements 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 basic contract vetting service for Full and Candidate Members. It is run by WGGB staff and outsourced to external contract vetters when necessary.
  • Pensions – 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 – members of the WGGB 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 a freelance career – from building a website and utilising social media to negotiating contracts and keeping finances in order. WGGB members in Wales are also eligible for discounted training via CULT Cymru, plus there is a 10% discount on course fees at Birkbeck University London.

Find out more information about the benefits of joining WGGB here.

WORKING TOGETHER

In 2018, ALCS helped fund the Equality Writes campaign launched by WGGB. This followed a major, independent report the union had commissioned, which revealed that only 14% of prime-time TV is written by women and only 16% of working film writers in the UK are female. The WGGB has used this report to help spread the word about the need for equality within the industry and to effect change. Find out how you can get involved here.

As well as campaigning for the rights of writers, the WGGB also supports budding and established writers, and raises the profile of writing, by presenting awards. These include the Tinniswood Award as part of the BBC Audio Drama Awards; and the Writers’ Guild Awards, both of which are sponsored by ALCS.

WHICH MEMBERSHIP TIER IS FOR YOU?

The WGGB has four tiers of membership, ranging from Full membership to Student membership.

Full Membership is open to anyone who has written one or more pieces of work for which payment has been received at or above the minimum rates as defined by the current agreements negotiated by the union. Details of other eligibility criteria for Full Members can be found here. These members can join the WGGB pension scheme, upload a Find A Writer profile, and are eligible for Cannes Accreditation, as well as the standard WGGB membership benefits, which can be found here.

Candidate Membership is open to any writer who has not yet had at least one professional contract for writing in terms at or above the WGGB minimum terms. Members are eligible to access the free Contract Vetting service, support and advice from experienced staff, receive the union’s weekly ebulletin, take advantage of exclusive discounts and events (including free screenings), receive free and discounted training and access the Members’ only area of the WGGB website.

WGGB also has an Affiliate Membership tier for agents and others involved in a professional relationship with writers.

Check the eligibility criteria and benefits of each membership tier here.

STUDENT MEMBERS

The WGGB has recently launched a special discounted membership package for students to support writers at the outset of their careers and to ensure their voices are represented. At just £30 per year, compared with £198 per year for Full Membership, student members are able to enjoy many perks. To find out more about what Student Membership involves and for the terms of membership, visit writersguild.org.uk/join-renew/student-membership.

HOW TO JOIN

For more information on WGGB membership criteria and to join online, visit writersguild.org.uk/join-renew. Membership starts from as little as £9 per month.