Unionising in the game industry is a major topic at the moment. Developers in many studios have organized or are trying to organize proper unions to protect worker rights in an industry that is notorious for working conditions that could be considered poor, especially in crunch times. It is a good cause but it is also seeing sides opposing each other, and claims of union-busting by some studios. Earlier today Ustwo Games, developers of Monument Valley and Assemble With Care, was accused of firing an employee due to their union activities.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) stated today its intent to launch legal proceedings against Ustwo Games over the victimisation of a trade union member. The member in question is Austin Kelmore, a founding member and branch chair of the Game Workers Unite union. The two main legal complaints put forward are outlined in the statement below.
Besides the firing over trade union activity, in breach of Section 152 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, Ustwo management was also in breach of Section 146 of the same act and section 10 of Employment Relations act 1999 by denying Austin the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative to his disciplinary and dismissal meeting.
The IWGB had stated that it was giving Ustwo Games until October 4th for the decision to be reversed before legal action would be taken. A few hours ago Ustwo Games released a statement of its own to address the accusations and there does not seem to be the intent to reverse its decision over letting Austin go.
— ustwo games (@ustwogames) October 3, 2019
Ustwo Games denies dismissing Austin over his union membership and states that there are other Ustwo employees who are union members. Ustwo Games also claim that the IWGB has reported some parts inaccurately and left out other details, though what details haven’t been revealed: “to respect our employees’ privacy.”
It seems then that this case could very well end up in front of a tribunal where it will be decided if Ustwo Games breached any legislation regarding trade unions and employee dismissal.