The name Claire Pullen will not resonate with the screen community because she belongs to the Trade Union movement, with experience in several different flashpoints.
Shane Brennan, the AWG President and the activist who brought the Guild into directing supporting the careers of writers and encourages them to target Hollywood, is strongly in support of the move. According to the release he says,
‘Claire brings high level strategic experience from her previous roles at the Public Service Association, Family Planning NSW, the Community and Public Sector Union and the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union of NSW. Claire will be a strong advocate for writers at a time of pivotal change in the screen and arts sectors. The AWG National Executive Council celebrates the appointment and looks forward to working with Claire to continue raising the profile and recognition of Australian writers as we move into our 60th year.’
By accident, this announcement comes out on the very day in which the looming Hollywood dispute between The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) agreed that their dispute is resolved, at least for the next three years.
This helps to explain why the AWG would choose a new leader skilled in industrial affairs.
Claire has a master’s degree in Labour Law and Relations from the University of Sydney. She was most recently Director of Campaigns at the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, enabling month- long strike action, and Women’s Officer at the Public Service Association, where she implemented and launched the ‘What Women Want’ report, the largest survey of working women in NSW. She also delivered an environmental sustainability project, a model sexual harassment clause, a member domestic violence support package and contributed to multiple parliamentary inquiries. As Director of Communications and Campaigns at the Community and Public Sector Union, Claire worked with a national executive to deliver campaign strategies and projects.
In some ways the US confrontation was about ensuring conditions which Australian technicians already enjoy. However it has an underlying dimension which remains vitally important to our sector as well. The tension was ratcheted up by the way in which the streaming companies have been stripping screen workers of their ancillary rights.
The Australian Writers Guild will be facing these issues as well, along with the other guilds and Screen Producers Australia.
Claire Pullen will also put energy into the continuing campaign to ensure cultural changes in the sector.
She was the winner of the 2019 EMILY Award, given to women who have shown exceptional courage, determination, innovation and commitment to issues, reforms and practices that promote the position of women in Australian society.