UK Trade Union Launches Campaign Against Games Studio That Fired a Developer Who Organized

The BAFTA award-winning UK indie games studio Ustwo recently fired a senior programmer and leading organizer of a fledging union that represents the games industry workers in the United Kingdom, in what the union claims is an effort to derail a growing movement. Ustwo claims the programmer was fired over performance issues.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43kq9b/uk-trade-union-launches-campaign-against-games-studio-that-fired-a-developer-who-organized
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This is such a massive disappointment considering how much I was recently singing the praises of Assemble with Care.

The management of Ustwo, the studio behind the multi-award winning Monument Valley video games, informed Austin Kelmore, the branch chair and founding member of the Game Workers Unite (GWU) UK branch of the IWGB , in late September that he would be put on gardening leave and then dismissed . This happened a few weeks after he was questioned by a senior manager regarding his trade union activity and just after he invited a group of Ustwo employees to a meeting to discuss rights at work.

Ustwo’s HR department had previously attacked Austin’s attempts to hold management to account and generate positive change at the company. In a meeting and subsequent email from October 2018, the HR department criticised the fact Austin spent time on “company feedback, diversity schemes and working practices” and the fact he “puts leadership… on the spot”.

https://www.gameworkersunite.org/post/union-busting-at-ustwo-games

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As always, corporations are happy to get “woke points” by saying the right things, but when capital is actually threatened, they all revert back to Dickensian villains. Workers will need to claw and scratch our way to any rights, same as it ever was, and the capitalist machine will continue to oppose us at every turn.

Oh, and fuck UsTwo as a publisher, company, and a motherfucking crew.

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Via the Kotaku report, the response from Ustwo reads as an attempt to muddy the waters of this situation, and one I’ve seen some gamers in the comments fall for hook-line-and-sinker.

Ustwo claims that Kelmore was dismissed “for reasons unconnected to his membership of a trade union or his undertaking of trade union activities” in a statement posted to Twitter this morning. Ustwo says that they have other union-affiliated employees, adding that the IWGB’s statement contained “inaccuracies and omissions . . . which are misleading.” Retweeting the statement, Assemble With Care lead developer Matt Newcombe said, “It breaks my heart to see the reaction given to a misconstrued situation that people are only hearing one side of, it does not reflect the reality.”

I can’t give Matt’s comment here any benefit of the doubt, when they’re effectively trying to drive sympathy for a company that can abuse the power dynamics of the workplace in this manner.

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I note here that this is basically the same thing that Gearbox said in response to Troy Baker’s comments about not doing Borderlands 3 because they wouldn’t sign a union agreement. It’s the labour relations equivalent of “I have [insert marginalized group] friends”, I suppose.

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If my employer ever called the place a “Fampeny” I’d put in my two weeks that very day. Gross.

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A family is a horrible basis for a labour relationship.

How godsdamn dystopian.

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