Earlier this year we reported that Blizzard had laid off 8% of its employees, making that about 800 employees. And that was in spite of the fact that the company's 2018 financial results were record-breaking. There were quite a few articles in protest, as game developers across the world shared their support and some studios offered to take in some of the laid off staff. There's also been more talk of unionizing since then, as developers become increasingly aware that they have no labor protection in an industry racked by crunch culture and aggressive corporate interests.
It's within this context that two organizations, Game Workers Unite International and the Solidaire Informatique in France, are joining forces to condemn the firing of 134 French employees of Blizzard Entertainment. They are also calling for other affected workers and potential whistleblowers to come forward in protest. Local industrial unions in France suspect a breach of labor law surrounding the layoffs, and they are preparing to challenge Blizzard in an Employment Tribunal in France.
The layoffs in France were presented in the form of a restructuring plan called "Plan de sauvegarde de l'emploi" [Plan of job security], which allows company layoffs to happen for economic reasons, which in turn has artificially raised Blizzard's stock price. It has also been made public that some of the job positions removed in France, such as Customer Services, will be reopened in Blizzard Ireland, which means there won't be a real decrease in activity. So the organizations ask of Blizzard: were the layoffs necessary in economic terms, or was it plain and simple outsourcing?
In France, according to the country's labor laws, companies are not allowed to fire employees simply to satisfy shareholders and specifically not without ensuring that the employees have a guaranteed transition in job security. Hence, those employees require substantial severance pay, particularly with the evidence of the employer's record profits. So if any of the workers affected are reading this, or if anyone is able to offer any insider information, they ask that you please contact [email protected] to help build a strong case. Anonymity is guaranteed.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Will Blizzard be taken to French courts over the layoffs? Or will they find a way to settle out of courts? Let us know in the comments below!