TUC Congress: Comedian Sandi Toksvig compels unions to support fair pay for writers

Unions express solidarity with striking actors and writers in the US

Writer and comedian Sandi Toksvig made a rousing speech to the TUC Congress calling for fair pay for writers and solidarity with strikers in the USA.

Unions showed solidarity with striking actors and writers with the unions SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America against their ongoing fight for fair pay and conditions with streamers, studios and producers.

“Currently writers are not receiving fair pay for the work they do,” said Toksvig. “For every famous screen writer there are many more unknown writers just trying to earn a living.

“Royalty payments allow writers to stay afloat in tough times. But UK writers are paid a lump sum fee with no further royalties.

“They are also required to sign over all their intellectual property. Writers are paid less overall. Chances are the writers are getting nothing, yet the show wouldn’t exist if they didn’t work.

“If you watch TV, films or listen to podcasts then you should support this motion.”

The TUC Congress overwhelmingly supported the motion which agrees to support the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain in collective bargaining efforts, campaign for fairer pay for writers working for streaming providers and end buy-out agreements.

Toksvig warned that writers of colour, working class writers and those with disabilities, risk being pushed out of the profession, leaving it for “only those who can afford it”.

In an industry that employs over 2 million people and generates over £180 billion a year, Toksvig argued that the companies can definitely afford it.

“This is about the right for working class people to be artists,” echoed Paul Fleming, general secretary of the union Equity.  

Fleming called it a ‘historic time’ for the movement and expressed his unions ongoing support for the strikers in the US.

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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