9 myths and questions about strikes and the movement against the pensions reform

Many myths, inaccuracies, etc. about strikes are circulating in our professional communities. In preparation for the strike movement starting on 7 and 8 March, we have tried to answer the most frequent questions we have come across.

You can find our call to strike from 7 to 12 March here : Call for an extendable general strike on 7 and 8 March and beyond

For more information on how to strike in the private sector, we have a practical sheet here (in French) : La grève dans le droit privé

What is the point of a strike?

A strike is not just an opportunity to protest: it is a means of economic pressure. When we work, we produce economic value: by stopping work, this value is not produced. Work stoppage is the most effective tool that workers can use to act politically.

In the case of a local strike, it allows us to force our bosses to give in to demands or risk losing a lot of money. And in the case of a general strike (like the one starting on 7 March), it also puts pressure on the government: the shutdown of the economy has consequences on all social and political aspects.

What is the point of going on strike in the video game industry?

In video games specifically, joining the general strike can cause delays in deliveries to publishers, late releases, communication issues… but also organisational dysfunction. Putting pressure on our bosses forces them to act to demand the withdrawal of the pension reform via their lobbying groups such as the SNJV and the SELL, which are employer organisations in direct and regular contact with the government.

But the video game industry is also an industry like any other. It is part of the economy and generates huge profits… By causing delays to slow down production, we are actually participating in a collective effort to slow down (or better: bring to a halt) the economy nationwide. The strike is therefore a very effective way to remind everyone that games do exist thanks to us, the workers, and that it is not our directors who carry the project.

There’s no point in striking in a non-essential industry…

It is true that not all industries have the same impact in the very short term, but the mobilisation of all sectors is essential to last over time. In an economy like ours where every industry is tied to the health of another, all industries are essential because they all produce economic value!

It also prevents what is known as a “strike by proxy”, where a few industries strike “for everyone else”, which is very often ineffective: isolated, they cannot last and their legitimacy can is challenged by the government. By standing together, whatever our industries, the government cannot afford to ignore our demands without compromising itself.

The bill will pass anyway…

At this stage, it’s not guaranteed. The movement is very strong, the review of the law is going very badly in the parliament and the reform is extremely unpopular: two-thirds of French people say they are opposed to the pensions reform and massively support the strike starting on 7 March.

Of course, not all social movements are successful. But historically there are many examples of reforms that previous governments have been forced to abandon. And on each occasion, victory was always achieved with strong public support and through massive strikes involving a large majority of workers. It is therefore essential that as many people as possible mobilise from 7 March onwards to bring the government to its knees.

Why conflate pensions and women’s rights?

It is not unions that are “conflating” these two issues: women and gender minorities are already disadvantaged in the current pensions system! Salary discriminations, barriers to accessing the better paid jobs, careers fragmented by pregnancies or by family constraints that are more often imposed on them than on men… All these problems are also common in the video game industry. Women generally retire several years later than men and with a much lower average pension.

The government’s proposed pensions reform would only make the situation worse, with an almost doubled negative impact on women and gender minorities, as acknowledged by a study commissioned by the government itself!

In addition, having true equal pay would be a practical way of financing the pensions system: increasing women’s wages would greatly increase the contributions that fund the pensions system budget.

I can’t go on strike, nobody in my team does.

Striking is a collective effort, not an individual one, so even if you are the only one in your company to strike you are contributing to the general effort.

That said, it’s always difficult to be the first to strike in your team. And it’s out of the question to force yourself to do it if you are in an unfavourable professional context.

But it makes the action of getting up the courage to strike doubly useful: not only do you participate in a collective struggle, but also being the first to go on strike allows you to make it normal within your company and to raise the issue among your colleagues. It’s even easier if there are several of you in the company who go on strike, even in different teams.

Many of us have gone through this stage of being the first to go on strike and we are often surprised to be joined very quickly by other colleagues who, in reality, were also hesitant to take the first step!

It causes problems for my colleagues and/or the production…

Well, causing problems in the production process is the goal! It reminds everyone that it is thanks to you that games exist at all and that you are important in the company. And above all, it gives you time to step back, question your place in the production process and come to some conclusions.

On the other hand, causing problems for your colleagues is a bit more embarrassing. Your absence should not increase their workload. For reasons of solidarity between workers in the same company, but also to avoid the risk of making them hostile to the strike (and/or to you). In such cases, it is all the more important to mobilise others by paving the way to prevent work being shifted onto your colleagues, by raising the subject as early as possible and getting their support or, better still, their involvement.

My boss or manager won’t take it well if I go on strike!

First of all, it’s worth remembering that you can’t be criticised for going on strike: it’s illegal. If you are criticised, try to keep proof of it and do not hesitate to contact the STJV.

If your superiors take it badly, that’s normal: here again, it’s part of what going on strike is all about and it’s even more the case with your bosses. While you should of course be careful not to expose yourself too much, you should realise that in the extreme majority of cases (and fortunately), participating in a national strike has no consequences for you. This is all the more true for the movement against the pensions reform, which is very closely monitored by the media and widely supported by the public opinion.

Do I have to warn someone that I will be on strike?

No, not at all. You can go on strike and explain it later, if someone asks you why you were absent. This is actually the normal way of doing things. Your company has no right to force an HR process on you to declare striking days in advance. Your managers and bosses have technically no right to ask you in advance if you will be striking: you can answer them as you wish, and you even have the right to lie in this case.

However, announcing that you will be going on strike in advance may make it easier for your company to take it well. It may also encourage other colleagues to follow suit and go on strike too. You can for example announce it in advance or on the very same day to your lead directly, through public / team / project channels. However, we advise against only notifying HR.

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