Support from across the pond

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The Writers Guild of Great Britain is linking arms across the pond with WGA members by pledging support for the ongoing strike action stateside.

The WGGB has called on its members — and all U.K. writers, for that matter — to "refuse to break the strike by filling in for U.S. writers in dispute."

"Strike-breaking would at best bring a short-term payday but would have a devastating long-term effect on a writer's U.S. career," WGGB general secretary Bernie Corbett said.

Under U.K. trade union laws, the WGGB can't issue a strike instruction, nor can it discipline any members who defy the strike. But the WGGB has pointed out the serious implications of the WGA strike rules.

Rule 13 of the WGA Strike Rules states: "The guild does not have the authority to discipline nonmembers for strike breaking and/or scab writing. However, the guild can and will bar that writer from future guild membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would-be strike breakers to refrain from seriously harming the guild and its members during a strike."

The WGGB recalls that during the last WGA strike in 1988, there was solid support by U.K. writers, with few cases of strike-breaking. "We expect the same to be the case this time round as well," the WGGB said.

The guild, along with writers guilds in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and other countries, is a signatory to the 2000 Auckland Declaration, which states: "To the greatest extent permitted by contract and law, the guilds pledge to honor work stoppages, publicize information about work stoppages to their respective memberships, and to lend all aid possible to each other in support of negotiating goals."

Unlike its U.S. counterpart, the WGGB has been able to negotiate satisfactory terms with U.K. broadcasters covering DVDs, Internet downloads and mobile phones.

"We are contacting the major U.K. broadcasters and producers and the U.K. Film Council, asking them not to dump U.K. material into the U.S. market, and not to dress up American projects to look as though they are British," the WGGB said. "Any such maneuvers would bring at best a short-term advantage, whereas the adverse consequences could last for years."
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