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How does the WGA strike affect the UK?

The Writers Guild of America have started their first strike in 15 years, but how does it affect the UK?

Writers Guild of America (WGA) are striking over pay, the use of AI, streaming residuals and more. WGA published a document with details of their proposals as well as the response by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The strike will mostly affect US television production, including most late night talk shows, such as Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert’s. But how does the strike affect the UK?

Why are writers striking in the US?

As with most strikes, the central issue is pay as well as certain benefits such as pension.

The WGA is arguing that writing for a streaming service completely changes the circumstances. Writers often negotiate their pay and their residual checks are dependent on viewership but with many streamers refusing to release these figures, this leaves writers unable to negotiate a fair deal for themselves.

Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and its supporters picket outside of Paramount Pictures on May 02, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Hollywood writers have gone on strike in a dispute over payments for streaming services. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Writers are also questioning the use of AI. WGA is asking for regulation over the use of AI, arguing it shouldn’t be used as a source and it shouldn’t be used to write or rewrite material. The AMPTP is counter-offering yearly meetings about developments in technology.

You can read more about the WGA’s proposals here.

How long will the WGA strike last?

At this point, no one knows.

The last strike went on for 100 days when it happened in 2007. It affected many productions with shows such as Supernatural, Breaking Bad and Mad Men, which all ended up with shorter seasons due to the strike.

Which programmes are affected by the strike?

There are currently a number of big scale productions happening in the UK, such as Rings of Power season 2, Andor, The Acolyte and House of the Dragon season 2.

Andor, Rings of Power and House of the Dragon seem to have their scripts finished so the strike wouldn’t in theory affect their production that much. However, it’s pretty standard practice to have writers on set and for the scripts to be adapted often during the shoot, so there’ll be strong concerns about how these major productions adapt with no writers.

Does the strike affect movies?

Yes and no. Writers won’t be working on scripts while striking, but as films are more of a one-off type of contract, films that have completed scripts handed in, shouldn’t be affected too much.

Films such as Beetlejuice 2, Alien and Nosferatu, all of which are filming in Europe, are all safe, as per Deadline. Same goes for Doctor Who which is filming in Wales. While it’s partly funded by US companies, writer Russell T. Davies is British and it’s filming on British soil, which should guarantee it being able to continue without interruption.

The Writers Guild of America West building is seen on May 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. After talks with studios and streamers over pay and working conditions failed to result in a deal, more than 11,000 Hollywood television and movie writers went on their first strike in 15 years. Late-night shows are expected to stop production immediately, while television series and movies scheduled for release later this year and beyond could face major delays. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

However, according to a source, a UK writer should not work on a US project during the strike. That said, not all projects fall under the WGA rules so some writers might still continue to work.

Are UK writers striking?

The Writers Guild of Great Britain has sworn solidarity with the WGA. They are advising their members as well as non-member writers “not to work on projects in the jurisdiction of the WGA for the duration of the strike”.

Some writers have asked for clarification on the WGGB’s statement, which also states that any non-members going against the advice will not be permitted to join the union.

“We continue to show our solidarity with our sister union and their members in the US as they embark on industrial action to secure fair pay, decent working conditions and to gain their rightful share in the future financial successes of their work”, says WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth in a statement.

She added: “We know that strike action is a last resort and one that requires individual sacrifice. The resounding majority of WGA members who voted for this action have shown the collective strength of their feeling and their resolve to stand firm on issues that affect writers the world over.”


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