Striking writers tap internationalism

Australian Workers' Union national secretary Paul Howes addressed a picket line of TV and movie screenwriters in LA yesterday. The two-month writers' strike has led to the suspension of the production of dozens of US TV programs and could put the Academy Awards ceremony at risk.

Mr. Howes told about 140 writers he would investigate what action could be taken to support them in Australia. "When I return home to Australia I will be working with our other unions to ensure we can take action, and solidarity actions, in support of you guys," he said.

However, Mr. Howes later told the Herald Sun he had not meant to suggest industrial action would be taken in the entertainment industry in Australia.

He said he had made it clear to US union officials that any action in Australia would be limited to a protest rally or other symbolism.

"We're not talking about industrial action," he said.

"When asked about that, I made it clear that that's not on the cards."

The AWU does not represent screenwriters in Australia.

The union that does, the Australian Writers' Guild, said yesterday it had no plans to launch any form of industrial action. "There are no plans for industrial action here," guild spokesman Stephen Asher said.

It is understood the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has no plans to launch strike action in the TV and film industry either.

Mr. Howes is in the US as part of a privately funded Australian-American Leadership Dialogue delegation.

A prolonged writers' strike in Australia would have a devastating impact on the local TV and film industries.

The US strike is already causing headaches for Australian networks, which rely heavily on overseas shows.


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