“We refuse to accept these layoffs are justified.”
Update: Kotaku reported earlier this year that Blizzard CEO J. Allen Brack promised that laid-off employees would benefit from a “comprehensive severance package,” we asked GWU whether French workers had also received a similar severance. GWU rep Marijam Didžgalvytė responded that the Brack quote “is likely talking about the severance packages in North American and Asian regions. With a strong union presence as per French law, the negotiations are still ongoing.”
Game Workers Unite and French-based union, Soldaire Informatique, have come together to plan action against the mass layoffs triggered by Activision Blizzard earlier this year. Both unions have called for whistleblowers and those affected by the layoffs to come forward and speak with them.
The layoffs took place in February, leaving around 800 people out of work, 134 of which were French workers. And GWU and SI argue that the sheer number of those affected points to a French labour law offence, meaning there’s a chance a case could be taken to an employment tribunal.
The case for a tribunal, the unions argue, comes down to two ideas; the first is that there’s evidence to suggest the redundancies were used in order to artificially boost share prices. Before the departure of former CEO Mike Morhaime and the problematic Diablo Immortal announcement, Activision Blizzard had a consistent net profit, which sits at around $1.8 billion according to GWU. They argue that the financial reasons given for laying off a sizeable number of French employees are insufficient grounds given the success of the company.
GWU also point to the aftermath of the layoffs, which saw the jobs in France moved over to Ireland, which has a far lower tax rate than France, leaving the unions to ask whether “the layoffs [were] really necessary in economic terms, or is it outsourcing, plain and simple?” GWU and SI go on to say that it’s a breach of French labour laws to remove employees to “satisfy shareholders,” and say that they “refuse to accept these layoffs are justified.”
GWU and SI will be working alongside another French union, Force Ouvrière to support any affected workers who wish to take this case to a French court, tribunal or any other route. Those affected can get in touch by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org