Game Workers Unite Australia is saddened and frustrated by Electronic Arts’ decision this week to lay off a substantial portion of the FireMonkeys workforce.
Although EA’s official statement says that the decision “may impact some roles”, GWU Australia understands that up to a quarter of the studio, some 40 to 50 people, have been notified of possible redundancies.
A layoff of this magnitude would represent a loss of almost 5% of the entire Australian game development industry nationwide.
This is a devastating blow to local development – an extraordinarily disappointing decision which will affect the already crowded local freelancer and indie market, as well as the undergraduate student body.
GWU Australia believes the only way to stop situations like this is for game developers to stand together and collectively bargain for a workplace which treats them with the respect they deserve.
By joining a union and standing together, game workers can not only have a say in policies like hiring and firing or ensuring fair standards of pay, but also negotiating superior redundancy packages that far exceed the legal requirements.
Unions across Australia assist workers in these kinds of negotiations every day. When workers are made redundant, unions contest false redundancies, make sure any entitlements are correctly paid out, and connect workers with a community of support.
GWU Australia’s main objective is to connect game workers with the union movement so they can empower and protect themselves at work. Existing unions like the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and Professionals Australia have already given their support to many game workers.
FireMonkeys employees can check what their redundancy payout should be based on their years of service by visiting the FairWork website. Any FireMonkeys staff who need assistance or have questions are urged to contact GWU Australia either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by filling out our membership application form and joining us on our private Discord server.
Just as we saw earlier this month with Activision-Blizzard: having a profitable company or turning over a record year is no longer enough. Corporations always demand more, putting shareholders and executive bonuses ahead of their employees’ lives.
EA is profitable, but simply not “profitable enough” to keep its executive board and shareholders happy. And now the people at FireMonkeys have to pay the price for that.
The only way game workers can hope to change the industry is to stand together and unionise.