On March 19th 2020, Dontnod Entertainment issued a communique in which the studio congratulates itself for its management of the COVID-19 crisis. Many employees have expressed discomfort after reading this communique, as it does not reflect the events they experienced.
The workers would like to present some clarifications :
- The elected staff representatives (the CSE) had contacted the company’s management on March 3rd, requesting the deployment of solutions to allow remote work, in reaction to the rapid growth of the pandemic.
- At the CSE’s initiative two successive meetings were held with the management on March 6th and 9th, during which this request was declined both times.
- When the CSE requested remote work to be opened to everyone at the company, the management answered it was « impossible for some employees » (the QA and IT teams in particular).
- When the CSE then requested remote work to be opened at least to those who could do it, the management answered it would be « unfair » towards the teams unable to work remotely. The CSE tried to explain that, in the context of a pandemic, this would reduce physical contact between employees and would benefit everyone, but the studio’s management refused to see it that way.
- The management also alluded to a decrease in productivity the studio was not able to bear, however without providing any document to back up this claim. It is important to note that most team leads, upon being asked the question, also expressed doubts about the ability for their teams to stay productive while working remotely.
- Management also claimed that they did not have any legal obligation to accept remote work because there was no legal dispositions to force it yet.
- On March 13th, following Emmanuel Macron’s first TV allocution, Dontnod’s management finally encouraged employees to work remotely in an email addressed to all the staff.
- On March 16th, following Emmanuel Macron’s second TV allocution, Dontnod made remote work mandatory for all workers except for the QA and IT teams, in charge of the transition from in-office work.
- These are the same teams the management claimed they were defending by forbidding large-scale remote work, who saw themselves compelled, by their work ethics, to keep going to their workplace for several more days in order to ensure the continuity of the services and implement everything needed for other employees to work remotely.
- We think it is important to highlight that these teams are generally at the very bottom of the pay scale for video games professions, and are also the less recognized in video games production lines. Yet it was those teams who were, in fine, the most exposed, and who made possible the transition to remote work for all other employees.
- Before March 13th, the measures taken by the studio’s management came down to those made mandatory by the government (hand sanitizer made available on each floor, email with instructions on how to protect oneself and other, quarantine for employees coming back from infected areas), and the cancellation or postponing of motion-capture shootings abroad.
All of this information comes in contradiction with the communique stating the protection of workers has been organised as soon as January.
Moreover, it appears today that remote work was not « impossible for some employees » but rather that the management didn’t want to spend the resources necessary to such adjusments, though they were essential to the workers’ protection.
Several of our colleagues are showing signs of COVID-19 symptoms. Taking into account the virus’ incubation time, it is likely that those actually infected have been so before social distancing measures and remote work came into effect.
Dontnod’s management first reacted by warning only the people working in the same open-space as those potentially contaminated, although we have a common cafeteria, common elevators and our work meetings gather employees from different floors. Eventually, the management sent an email on March 24th informing employees that « some persons are showing signs of COVID-19 symptoms » and that they might have been infected « at work or elsewhere ».
For all these reasons, we are meeting with great skepticism Dontnod’s communique declaring the health of its employees is the company’s top priority. We perfectly understand the difficulties presented by a crisis of such importance, however it does not mean we will accept such distortions of reality.
While our workers’ representatives were concerned with our health, Dontnod’s management refused on several occasions to establish safety measures, particularly in the name of productivity.
In addition, we wish to express our support and solidarity with all the workers forced to go to work or put at risk by bosses considering profits more important than their, and their relavites’, health. We will mobilise in person as soon as the crisis is over to defend our rights, the provisions of our Code du Travail (labour laws) and our public services.
After the publication of our statement, some colleagues have expressed doubt on a few of our points, to which we want to add a some precisions:
- It has been omitted in the initial statement that QA team leads insisted on the optional side of their team being physically present at work, and on their right to stay at home ; in effect, no QA worker went to their office since the beginning of the lockdown.
- We also want to remind everyone that this statement was published quite late: two weeks after the Dontnod’s PR team statement to which it replies. Between the publication of Dontnod’s statement and that of the workers we have noticed, with relief, that management has respected its obligation of protection of their workers and put into place all the means necessary so that the teams can telework properly, in the right conditions.
We remain united with and available to all our colleagues – unionized or not – if they have any comments, questions or problems: you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.