SYNTEC – What are your rights, and how much does your employer owe you?

This guide is aimed more specifically towards those who work under the SYNTEC collective agreement, which covers half of the French video games studios according to the SNJV (bosses’ organization). However, even if your studio isn’t operating under SYNTEC, don’t hesitate to ask us questions: we help any worker, whatever the collective agreement and whether they are unionized or not.

This guide was last updated on 23/03/2024

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement is a text that complements the Labour Code for a given industry. It is negotiated between bosses and union representatives.

In French law, work is regulated at three levels:

  1. Labour Code
  2. Collective agreements
  3. Company-wide agreements

Historically, those texts applied with a precise order called hiérarchie des normes.
A collective agreement could only be more advantageous than Labour Code provisions, and a company-wide agreement could only be more advantageous than its collective agreement.
But this hierarchy has been rolled back and methodically destroyed by bosses and neoliberal politics, especially since 2016’s El Khomri “Labour law”.

How do I know which one applies to me?

A company has to apply a collective agreement if it belongs to the corresponding industry. On the other hand, if the industry the company declares itself under at creation doesn’t correspond to any of the existing agreements, then it will only apply Labour Code regulations.
Bosses sometimes “get creative” and declare various industries for the studios such as “toys and [board] games” or “animation films”.

However, the most widely represented collective agreement in video games (over half companies in France according to the SNJV) remains SYNTEC.
It is well-known for offering very little over the Labour Code.
For example, its lowest minimum salaries regularly end up lower than the SMIC, rendering them useless (employees cannot be paid lower than the SMIC in France regardless of any agreements).

If your company follows a collective agreement, it must be mentioned:

  • In the employment contract
  • On the pay slip

A list of collective agreements is available on the government’s site.
SYNTEC is designated under the name “Bureaux d’études techniques, cabinets d’ingénieurs conseils, sociétés de conseils“, which is its real name (abbreviated into BETIC). However, most call it SYNTEC out of habit so this is what we’ll continue using in this article.
Its complete text is available on Légifrance and on SYNTEC’s website.

How do I know which company-wide agreements apply to me?

You can ask HR or your employee representatives how to access those documents.

What’s more, since 2017, all company-wide agreements must be stored on Légifrance.

Internship compensation

Compensation is mandatory when an internship lasts longer than two months (or 309h if the internship isn’t done continuously). Minimum compensation is 15% of the Social Security’s hourly ceiling, which (in 2024) means 4.35 € per hour (i.e. 609 € on a 20 days per month basis). Collective agreements may include higher internship compensations, but SYNTEC does not.

Whatever the case, the company may always offer higher compensation than the legal minimum.
For example, some studios offer a SMIC (minimum wage) equivalent.

Dual education salaries

The law sets minimum salaries for this situation as well, depending on your year of studies and age (and calculated based on the SMIC).

Moins de 18 ansDe 18 à moins de 21 ans21 ans et plus
Niveau de formationNiveaux préparés II et IIINiveaux préparés INiveaux préparés II et IIINiveaux préparés I
Année 1583.08 €759.78 €848.12 €971.81 €1,148.50 €
Année 2759.78 €936.47 €1,024.81 €1,148.50 €1,325.19 €
Année 31,024.81 €1,201.51 €1,236.84 €1,413.54 €1,413.54 €

For contrats de professionnalisation, the table is set by the OPCO-ATLAS in this document.

How SYNTEC works


Employees of a company regulated under SYNTEC are divided into two categories (“collèges”):

  1. ETAM: employé·es, technicien·nes et agent·es de maîtrise (employees, technicians and supervisors)
  2. IC: ingénieur·es et cadres (engineers and “cadres”, a specific distinction that originally designated executives and now mostly corresponds to people with various levels of autonomy at work)

Am I an ETAM or IC?

Belonging to one or the other is supposed to be based solely on the prerequisites of your current job.

To do that, the collective agreement aims at separating “less intellectual, non-autonomous and not requiring advanced aducation” jobs (ETAM) from those that require longer studies as well as “higher autonomy and adaptability” (IC).

For example, the agreement states that ETAM jobs should require studies that range from none at all to a BEP, i.e. a 2-year higher education degree.
The IC category assumes that its members have an engineering diploma (5 years higher education).
We’ll get back to that later.

Something that is often repeated and therefore needs to be tackled:


Do also note that the IC category offers non-negligible material advantages, such as:

  • Better severance packages: 33% of a montly salary per year of presence in the company for ICs, whereas ETAMs get 25% of a monthly salary per year between 2 and 20, and 30% afterwards
  • Better sick leave pay: 100% of the salary for 3 months for ICs, whereas ETAMs get 1-2 months (depending on seniority) at 100%, then only 80%
  • Better retirement premiums
  • A better minimum salaries scale (see below)
  • Better job search support financed by specific premiums (see Apec).

The STJV considers that video game jobs do not correspond to ETAM positions as per SYNTEC’s definitions.
However, many companies tend to classify the more insecure jobs (design, art, QA…) as ETAM. This is purely to drive salaries down, since there is no specific advantage in being classified as ETAM.


ETAM and IC categories are subdivided into positions.
Those positions (noted “X.Y”) losely define the hierarchy of employees according to their job, their duties and their experience.
A position is tied to a specific job and not to a person. This means that a particular job description defines the position through which you’re employed, not your skills or your diplomas. In other words, it is possible to be “overqualified” with regards to one’s job’s position as stated by the contract.


Each position corresponds to a coefficient. This number is used to infer the corresponding minimum salary. It is forbidden to be paid less than said minimum salary, which corresponds to full time employment.

Your collège (category), position and coefficient must be included on your pay slips. Those three informations define your “classification”, which in turn is linked to a minimum salary (see table below).

Working hours

If you know your classification, you still need to know how your working hours are decided. First off, French law define a simple basis: your contract should state how many hours you work in a week, and the default should be 35H.
If your contract expects you to work more than 35h a week, it must also include a way to compensate the additional work duration, for example by granting RTT days (Réduction du Temps de Travail, Work Duration Reduction). Any hour worked over the duration stated by the contract is overtime and should be paid extra.

The law also states that no one should ever work over 48H in a week, and that two work days should always be separated by at least 11H of rest.
More information on the legal aspects.

Working time modalities

SYNTEC defines three methods (“modalités”) of working time organisation:

  • Modalité 1 – Standard: basic rules apply. Baseline is 35h a week. Overtime is paid 25% more up until 8h a week, 50% if you do any more.
  • Modalité 2 – Forfait heure ou « réalisation de missions »: baseline is 35h a week with a possible modulation of 10%. This means that you may have to work 38h30 a week with no additional compensation.
  • Modalité 3 – Forfait jour ou « réalisation de missions avec autonomie complète »: working time is accounted on a day basis over the year (220 working days in a year). Any overtime is not counted and people working under that method are expected to adjust their time to complete their missions.


This is the easiest case (“modalité 1”): by default, ETAM workers are supposed to conform to the weekly 35h baseline, as per standard French law.

For ICs

ICs may work under different modalities, but that comes with higher minimum wage (see subsection “Abusive forfaits jours ou heures“).

Holidays bonus

Introduced in article 31 of the collective agreement (see here for the current version), it must at least be equal to 10% of the global paid leave compensation (around 1% of total wages mass).
Every employee must receive one between the months of May and November. It is usually divided equally or proportionally to each employee’s salary.
It must not be included in the base salary.

Commonly-encountered problems

We have encountered a certain number of abusive practices in the industry, and while bosses can sometimes get creative, here are the usual suspects:

Illegal working hours

Since the link between working time modalities and your weekly hour count can be tough to understand, we have seen many contracts that included illegal working hours. If you are under modalité 1, you must work 35H a week, or be granted RTT days if you work more than that per week.

Likewise, in modalité 2, the weekly hours must be stated in your contract. If the modality is not explicitely stated in the contract, then the default remains a 35H work week.

Collective agreement minimum salaries are not respected

First thing to do is check if you are paid at least as much as the minimum wage according to your position in SYNTEC, which as we have seen is not always the case. The minimum pay is as follows:


PositionCoefficientMin. gross monthly salary
1.12301 715 €
1.22401 745 €
2.12751 775 €
2.23101 831 €
2.33551 971 €
3.14002 111 €
3.24502 266 €
3.35002 415 €

Ingénieurs / Cadres

PositionCoefficientMin. gross monthly salary
1.1952 033 €
1.21002 140 €
(under 26 years old)
1052 241 €
(26 years old or more)
1152 454 €
2.21302 774 €
2.31503 201 €
3.11703 577 €
3.22104 419 €
3.32705 681 €

Engineers or similarly qualified personel classified as ETAMs:

The majority of workers in our studios are at least Bac +5 (Master degree equivalent in the US). According to the collective agreement, ETAM status should be reserved for Bac +2 or lower education levels. Here are the guidelines as outlined in the agreement:

PositionMin. gross monthly salaryLevel of education according to the collective agreement
1.*1 558,80 €BEP / CAP / Brevet Professionnel / Brevet de Maîtrise
2.*1 683,75 €Bac / Brevet de Technicien
3.*2 059,80 €BTS

Source: annex 1, page 50

While it is legal to employ someone with a higher level of education in an ETAM position if the qualifications required for their job match those from the table above, we consider that if you paid several thousands of euros to get a Bac +5 diploma from a private school only to get hired at a 1700 € gross salary, you are justified in thinking that either your employer or your school is making you the butt of a joke.

The problem lies in determining if your actual job corresponds to the description linked to your classification. For example, what were the job offer’s (or hiring manager’s) prerequisites? If it requires longer studies, then the job cannot seriously be classified as an ETAM job.

Abuse of forfait jour or forfait heures

The modalities 2 & 3 of working time organisations that we metnioned earlier are supposed to be applied under conditions that are described in chapter 2 of this annex.

  • Modality 2 (“Réalisation de missions”, performing missions): “all Engineers and Cadres may a priori adopt this method if their salary is higher than the plafond de la Sécurité Sociale“, as well as “personel that is authorized to work more than the usual schedule in the limite of 10% must be paid annually at least 115% of the minimum defined for their category in the collective agreement”. Jurisprudence on this modality (see here and here) concludes that one must earn at least as much as the PMSS, but also at least 115% of the minimum laid out by the collective agreement for their rank, whichever is higher.
  • Modality 3 (“Réalisation de missions avec autonomie complète”, performing missions with complete autonomy): “they must […] at least be in position 2.3 of the collective agreement […] or be paid at least 2 times the annual plafond de la Sécurité Sociale” and “personel working under those conditions must be paid at least 120% of the minimum defined for their category in the collective agreement”. The minimum is therefore 120% of the minimum salary in position 3.1, which amounts to a 3490.10 * 1.2 = 4188.12 € monthly gross salary, or 2 times the PSS if you are not in position 3.
ModalitéPositionGross monthly salary must be greater thanAnd greater than
2All3864 €115% of the position’s minimum salary
3Cadre 2.33905.22 €
3Cadre 3.14292.4 €
3Cadre 3.25302.8 €
3Cadre 3.36817.2 €
3Others7728 €120% of the position’s minimum salary

In both cases, you should be Ingénieur / Cadre. To offer modality 2 or 3 to ETAM workers, there needs to be an applicable company-wide agreement at least. If you have any doubt, ask to be shown said agreement.

What can I recover if I was wronged?

If you are not paid adequately, your employer must solve the issue and pay back the difference over the last 3 years.
If you are working under modalities 2 or 3 without the corresponding minimum pay, they must pay back the difference in overtime pay over the last 3 years retroactively.

However, if you signed a contract for a job that requires lower level of education than you have obtained, you’ll have to prove that your job actually requires your education qualifications, which is more complex. This is an ongoing process even for us.

What to do?

Contact us at if you are in one of those situations, we are here to help. Even if you do not want to take action, it is important for us to know where and how the collective agreement is breached. We are already working among several studios to get them to respect the law.

The right to strike in private companies

WHAT is a strike?

A complete work stoppage…
Partial stoppage or slowdown at work is not legally recognized as a strike.

…collective and coordinated…
For a strike to be legal, at least 2 salaried workers must take part in it. The only exceptions are if the employee is the company’s sole employee, or if they are responding to a national call to strike (like many of the STJV’s).

…to make work-related demands.
These demands encompass salaries, working conditions, jobs protection…

If any of those 3 conditions is not met, the strike is considered illegal and salaried workers taking part in it are not protected by their right to strike.

WHO can go on strike?

It is a protected right granted to every salaried worker in the private sector. There is no requirement that a majority or the entirety of the company’s workers participate in the strike.

HOW does one go on strike?

Salaried workers can go on strike at any time, without notice. All you have to do is not come to work on the day(s) of the strike. The only requirement is that your employer must know about the strike demands before you stop working: when joining a national call to strike from representative unions, that is already taken care of.

Do I have to warn my employer beforehand? No.
In the private sector, that is not required. However, if asked about the reason of your absence once you go back to work, you have to answer truthfully. You may of course tell your leads / managers in advance to avoid frictions.

The right to strike is constitutionally protected, so for example the existence of a deadline is not a valid reason to forbid a strike.

Do I have to use my vacation days? No.

Will I be paid? No.
A salaried worker on strike is not paid over the duration of the strike. The substraction to your salary has to match the time during which you didn’t work.

What are the RISKS?

The right to strike protects salaried workers who exercise it:

  • A salaried worker cannot be fired due to having taken part in a strike
  • A salaried worker cannot be discriminated against due to having been on strike

If an employer fires an employee based on their participation to a strike, the dismissal will be null and voided. They can be reinstated if they so wish, and be compensated.

The only cases where a salaried worker could be fired would be:

  • if they blocked other employees from working or otherwise actively prevented the company from operating
  • if they sequestered or were violent against other persons or others’ property.

What is a union ?

In 2022, many of our comrades were able to witness, and participate in, discussions about what is a worker, what trade unions are and their usefulness. This was particularly the case following the French presidential election, when the STJV joined voices calling for union membership and pointing out that our struggles are everyday affairs, which are built over the long term. More recently, a video by People Make Games had caused quite a stir in our circles.

The general observation that emerged from these discussions was that, including in trade union circles and among those directly involved, there is a lot of confusion over what are trade unions, syndicalism, workers, and so on.

Some of the opinions expressed during these discussions gave trade unions very limited fields of action and goals. Others even unintentionally conveyed anti-union clichés that permeate our society, and opened the door to anti-union initiatives.

Since this corresponds neither to the reality of what we do at the STJV, nor to our goals, we have written this article to combat this confusion, to define the important terms of the debate, and to present the current positions of the STJV, which are derived from the history in which we are rooted and from our statutes, practical experiences and internal discussions.

As the trade union landscape is very diverse, not all unions, let alone the trade unionists who make up the unions, necessarily have the same position. This is especially true between unions in different countries, which operate in different legal and cultural contexts.

We would like to point out that it is not necessary to agree with all the current positions of the STJV in order to join it. It is through our internal work and discussions that we define the politics of the union.

Who are the workers?

In order to be able to define what a worker is, we must first step back and explain what labour is and therefore, by extension, what production is.

Taken in a general sense, production is everything that society in the broadest sense produces, that allows us to live and that we use directly or indirectly in our daily lives. Its meaning is so broad that it is difficult to define its contours, but, for instance, it includes the production of food, clothing, furniture and housing, as well as leisure activities such as video games, services, healthcare, information, telecommunications, transports, and knowledge, particularly through research…

Labour is any activity that directly or indirectly results in the production of something, regardless of the effort or activity behind the word. If we take the example of a game console, the direct work that was necessary to produce it includes, among other things: the extraction of raw materials, their transport, their transformation, their assembly, the design of its components, their delivery to shops, the related marketing, their distribution…

This so-called productive labour is itself only possible thanks to so-called reproductive labour, which frees up the human working time needed for production and maintains employees’ energy and health. It includes all unpaid and unrecognised domestic work, including all household chores and childcare.

We all live thanks to collective labour that makes it possible to produce the resources we need.

Workers are therefore not only those who are employed in companies, or who have ongoing employment contracts. We should not fall into the common confusion between labour and employment. Labour has always existed and will always exist, while employment is a particular way of organising parts of labour in the capitalist economic system.

The term “worker” refers to anyone who is forced by the capitalist economic system to perform labour, whatever form it takes and regardless of their actual ability to work. It thus includes so-called “stay-at-home” carers, volunteers in associations, activists in political organisations, artists and content creators, but also unemployed people who are under permanent pressure to return to work, disabled people who have to justify in a way that is intrusive to their private lives their inability to work without any guarantee that it will be recognised, and so many others.

Who organises production?

Currently, the people who have the ability to determine what is produced are those who own the factories, machines, computers, raw materials, patents, rental flats, online platforms, intellectual property, newspapers, and so on. Everything that is needed to produce something is referred to as the means of production. For instance, in the case of video games, you cannot produce an Assassin’s Creed game if you do not own the licence, if you do not have access to a game engine, computers, offices to work in: these are means of production.

The people who own these means have the power to decide what to do or not to do with them. In our economic system, these decisions are based on the market value of what is produced, not on its social value. One example is the pharmaceutical companies that stop producing life-saving drugs because they are not profitable enough.

Neither the people who make these drugs, nor those who need them to live, can choose to make them anyway. They do not have the power to do so because they do not possess the necessary means of production. It is the relationship to the means of production that defines what we call social classes: the class that controls them is called the bourgeoisie, and the one that doesn’t is called the proletariat.

Since the bourgeoisie needs the proletariat to provide the labour necessary for production, if only because of its own small numbers, it employs proletarians to produce goods and services. Their labour is paid less than the value of what they produce, in order to make a profit: this is called exploitation. In the video game industry, for instance, the profits of a game are not distributed equally among the people who made it: most of it goes to the publishers, bosses and shareholders, i‧e. the people who own the means of production.

The proletariat is thus defined in opposition to the bourgeoisie, both over the control of the means of production but also over the difference in social obligation to work. In this sense, the words “proletarians” and “workers” are synonymous in STJV communications.

What are unions?

To ensure that production really benefits the people who need it and society in general, it is necessary for the proletariat to be able to decide collectively what is produced, how, in what quantity, and to whom it is distributed. This is where trade unions come in.

If unions are organisations based on workers, it’s because the organisation of production currently revolves around labour. In our economic system, the social mechanisms of capital redistribution, access to public services, all the subsidies, allowances and pensions, are funded by economic production. All those who benefit from them are therefore dependent on labour.

Syndicalism is a strategy that takes advantage of the leverage employed proletarians can have by acting directly on production and in particular by blocking capitalist production, but it does not stop at the doors of factories and open spaces.

The process of restructuring production affects all proletarians, and must therefore include all of them. Union struggle does not only revolve around salaried workers, but includes everyone who belongs to the proletariat. Non-salaried workers and people who benefit from the redistribution of capital and public services already have their place in the trade union movement, as demonstrated by unions of undocumented workers, freelancers, unemployed people, pensioners or platform workers.

What is their area of action?

Although this remains one of their main activities, and sometimes the most visible, trade unions are neither limited to representation in companies, nor to the deliberately restrictive legal framework of “labour relations”. The legal powers they have are useful and practical, but they do not prevent them from organising outside this framework.

Neo-liberal ideas, unfortunately widespread, claim the opposite with the aim of institutionalising trade unions, depoliticising their action and thus emptying it of its substance by making it ineffective. But, on the contrary, the history of trade unions shows that union struggle has always been fought on all fronts.

The creation of free state-of-the-art hospitals, the foundation of the French social security system, constant support for undocumented workers’ fights are just a few examples of the large-scale social achievements that have marked the history of unions in France. The labour movement, through mutual aid funds, is also at the origin of unemployment benefits. These measures, made possible by class solidarity, apply to many persons who are not salaried workers. Their purpose has always been to collectively organise means of emancipation from capitalist economic domination.

Labour has such a structuring role in our society that it concerns virtually everyone, and largely conditions our livelihoods. A union cannot and should not be exclusively concerned with the struggle against economic domination, because dominations are not isolated from each other but overlap and combine.

For example, many of the ‘classic’ trade union issues – discrimination in hiring, parental leave, workplace and work organisation accessibility for people with disabilities, accessibility for users, sick leave, etc. – are quite clearly at the intersection of other oppressions: sexism, racism and ableism in particular.

By improving working conditions, public and social services, increasing the amount of time available for everyone (for instance by reducing the number of weekly working hours) and fighting against job insecurity, trade union action improves everyone’s living conditions.

How can they successfully change the economic system?

One point on which the majority of the union movement agrees in theory is that, in order to be able to decide pragmatically and effectively on production and adapt it to the needs of all, it is necessary to put an end to the division of society into classes and to separate the organisation of production from the permanent quest for profit.

It is the only way to ensure that production really benefits the people who need it and society in general, including by taking into account ecological constraints. This means that proletarians must take control of the production and decide what to do with it themselves. In trade unions, but also in parties, there are two main general currents that seek to change the economic system: the reformist current and the revolutionary current.

The reformist current aims at seizing power peacefully and with respect for republican principles, and relies exclusively on the use of the law and existing institutions to gradually transform capitalism. Within trade unions, this means relying on institutionalised “labour relations”.

The revolutionary current promotes a direct confrontation with capitalism and a quick and sudden seizure of power that would overthrow the existing system. It treats existing institutions only as tools, which can also become structural obstacles to the transformation of the economy. At the trade union level, this means favouring grassroots organisation of the proletariat and resorting to direct action (actions decided and carried out collectively, directly by the people concerned, and not by representatives), with the aim of seizing back the means of production through strikes.

Relying solely on existing institutions is a danger for trade unions, since all structures seek to maintain their existence. We need to be particularly vigilant to ensure our unions do not end up taking decisions that serve their own interests more than those of our class. More precisely, if it is not designed and operated as a revolutionary tool, a union is condemned to maintain itself and therefore maintain its environment, capitalism.

This is one of the limits of reformist unions: they develop an internal bureaucracy and, over time, the interests of the structure as well as of its employees change. To maintain their existence, the easiest thing for them to do is to ensure that proletarians continue to need them. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to involve as many proletarians as possible in union organisations, at all levels. The more power is shared, notably through self-governance, the more the risk of hijacking structures is mitigated.

In a nutshell, a trade union can be defined as follows:

A union is an organisation whose goal is to organise the proletariat so that it can collectively and permanently take back control of all production. It’s a strategy, a way of self-organising between proletarians to determine how to manage production, what to do with it and who benefits from it.

How to get involved in trade unions?

The basis of trade union action is solidarity, mutual support and mutual education. By knowing your rights and helping those around you to know their rights, you pave the way for future battles and become aware of your own condition. Being aware, even if only partially, of existing channels of action and organisation allows you to advise those around you and direct them to the people who can help them, without waiting until the last moment.

By doing this, you also directly help the trade unions, as union work is easier when people join us or talk to us early. By attacking problems early, at their roots, we avoid having to bring out big guns like lawsuits that can take years to resolve, and we protect more effectively by preventing more serious problems.

You can also follow, support and take part in social movements. These movements, because of their scale, have a lot of inertia and unionists work hard together to start, organise and keep them going. Participating in these movements helps to maintain, amplify and build them over time, allowing their victory.

Why join a union?

The best way to help the union movement is still to get involved in workers’ organisations, and therefore to join a union. Joining in itself can help a union by increasing its size and therefore its weight in discussions or power relations. The simple fact of paying dues provides financial means and therefore improves its capacity to help proletarians.

At the national, local or company level, joining demonstrations, attending social events, participating in meetings and discussion groups, even as a spectator, can help you to smoothly enter union life, but also, and above all, to meet comrades who know your problems and who also suffer from them. Taking part in union activities and events is an important step in realising that you are not alone, that you can discuss and organise together.

For those who are able, it is also possible to get directly involved in union work. In particular in structures like the STJV where all the work is volunteer, everyone contributes what they can according to their means, without any expectations or obligations. The idea is not to reproduce what happens at companies. Contributing just a little bit, now and then, already helps to increase the amount of work done by the union and, above all, helps you learn more about union struggle and our rights.

What if there is no suitable union for me?

If there is no union in your industry, or none that suits you politically, it is possible to do more research, for example by going to the local and regional branches of union confederations, and to unions in industries close to yours. You can ask unions closer to you politically if they know of any in your industries. Smaller unions, especially those that are independent and/or revolutionary, may be active but not necessarily well known.

If you really can’t find one, apart from the radical but real option of creating a union like the STJV did for the video game industry, it is always possible to get involved in an existing union regardless, through practical actions that are useful in all circumstances such as legal advice.

Finally, don’t forget that joining a union is not a lifetime commitment! The act of joining a union should not be crippling, as it does not force you to do anything. It is perfectly possible to join a union to check out its internal organisation and democracy, ask questions, etc. and then leave if you don’t like it and find that it is not possible to change the union internally.

Covid-19 practical guide – Sanitary self-defence

This practical guide has been updated in June 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has been going on for more than 2 years, and we it’s still far from being over. As official information is often non-existent, sometimes misleading or outright false, and always difficult to find, we propose this guide which seeks to centralize information, synthesize the situation and explain how to protect ourselves collectively.

We have done our best to collect and synthesise the information, but please remember that we are not health professionals. This guide is not a substitute for consulting health services.

If you see any errors in this guide, please let us know at

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Viruses have different means of transmission, and sometimes combine several of them. In the case of Covid-19, transmission is mainly airborne.

This means that it is spread through the air, by aerosols exhaled by infected people. Aerosols are particles and micro-droplets which, in the absence of air renewal, remain airborne and can be breathed in by other people present. As we are talking about breathing, transmission may happen through both the mouth and the nose, hence the importance of properly wearing masks to cover both.

As air gets mixed very quickly, especially in indoor spaces, it is important to understand that its diffusion is global and not concentrated in a small area. Think of cigarette smoke: although it is rather concentrated when exhaled, it diffuses very quickly in a room. You can no longer see it, but you can still smell it for a long time because the particles emitted are still there. The same phenomenon occurs with the air exhaled by a contaminated person.


Covid-19 is a disease much more complex than a “simple flu” as it is often referred to.

It can affect all organs, not only the respiratory tract. In particular, it can infect the central nervous system, including the brain, which causes loss of taste and/or smell. It also attacks the immune system.

The most common symptoms are a flu-like condition (fever, alternating heat and chills), congestion of the nose and throat, severe fatigue, loss of taste and/or smell.

An infected person will not necessarily have all the symptoms. They may be only a few and very mild, and it is even possible to be ill and yet remain completely asymptomatic.

On the other hand, in the worst cases, Covid-19 can cause respiratory distress, myocarditis and/or bacterial superinfection, symptoms that can lead to death in infected persons.

Covid-19 also severely weakens the immune system, over the long term, increasing the risks of all the other diseases. For instance, early hypotheses, which remain to be confirmed, suggest that Covid-19 may contribute to the hepatitis epidemic in children, and increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.


Its mortality rate may be deceptively presented as ‘low’ by those seeking to minimise its real danger. But we must not neglect the danger of this virus, which is much more deadly than diseases such as the flu for example. As a reminder, it is directly responsible for more than 150,000 deaths in France and 6.3 million worldwide since the beginning of the epidemic, and these figures are most probably underestimated.

It should also be noted that these are deaths that would not have occurred without the epidemic, so we cannot accept the argument that “these people were going to die anyway”. Not to mention that the death of tens of thousands of people, on the pretext that they are frail, is unacceptable in the first place.

Each hospital admission of a Covid-19 patient uses public hospitals resources, which we know have already been damaged by decades of uninterrupted criminal policies reducing their resources. By saturating hospitals with patients, Covid-19 considerably deteriorates the treatment of other pathologies, sometimes severe, leading in particular to the cancellation of operations that are “less urgent” but nevertheless vital. The overall mortality rate in the population is thus increased, and these indirect deaths are also due to Covid-19. It is estimated that excess mortality (deaths in excess of those statistically expected) can still be as high as 30% in some EU countries, which is enormous.


The recent major variants of Covid-19 are much more contagious, and hardly confer any immunity after being sick. Where initially it was estimated that being infected with Covid could confer immunity for a few months afterwards, it is now possible to be reinfected within weeks of a first infection.

It has also been proven that reinfections increase all risks associated with Covid-19, including for vaccinated people.

Each reinfection will further increase the risk of death, hospitalisation, complications and long-term disabilities (long Covid). This fact makes it even more necessary to constantly increase and improve preventive measures, rather than reduce them.

Long Covid

A significant proportion of people infected with Covid-19 suffer from long-term symptoms, such as chronic fatigue or pain, breathing difficulties, etc., long after they have recovered from the disease. These symptoms are referred to as “long covid“.

Long Covid can have a wide range of effects, such as long-term vascular problems that can lead to cardiovascular diseases much later in life, immunosuppression, increased risk of developing diabetes… The details of long Covid are still not fully understood, but they are very worrying.

The precautionary principle dictates that this disease should not be treated as a temporary cold, especially for children, who are still magically considered “risk-free”.

How to protect oneself from it

Protection against Covid-19 is based on a multitude of measures, none of which is sufficient in itself. Each one plays a specific role and contributes to a considerable reduction of contamination risks and severe forms of the disease.

To represent the need to apply all these different measures, the so-called Swiss cheese model is used.

Each measure alone is not enough to protect oneself properly, as it has its flaws. But by applying all of them, we obtain sufficient protection to contain the epidemic, because they combine their effectiveness.

The fight against Covid-19 is a combination of personal and general measures.

While our individual actions can have an impact, these protections cannot work if they are only applied at the individual level.

Society cannot shift responsibility onto individuals, as the government constantly tries to do. Only the collective application of protective measures against Covid-19 can contain the epidemic.

Workers, companies and event organisers must pay special attention to these measures and implement them.

Personal protection


In general, the purpose of masks is to filter the air breathed in and out in order to trap airborne particles that could carry the virus.

Wearing a mask, especially in indoor or poorly ventilated areas, has several advantages:

  • it reduces the likelihood of being contaminated by other people (present or not)
  • it reduces the risk of contaminating others in turn
  • even if you are infected, it reduces the viral load, i‧e. the amount of virus in the air, and therefore the chances of infection

It is important to wear your mask correctly so that it is effective and allows as little air as possible to pass over the sides:

  • properly tightened, the contours should sit on the face
  • the nose clip should be bent to fit the shape of the nose

There are different types of masks:

  • Fabric masks are ineffective, they only filter the largest droplets, and let air through. They were only used initially because the country had a shortage of surgical and FFP2 masks. They should not be used.
  • Surgical masks are insufficient. Not airtight, they only filter air a little. Their main role is rather to redirect it, so as not to blow the virus directly towards others. While this does indeed reduce infections, it provides much less protection and for a shorter time than FFP2 masks. With the Delta and now Omicron variants, which have a very high viral load, they have become obsolete, especially indoors.
  • FFP2 masks are the new standard. They truly filter inhaled and exhaled air, protecting the wearer AND those around them (as long as they have a valve). It is easy to wear, can be worn all day, reused by letting it “dry” for several days between uses or by washing it in a washing machine, and offers very good protection.

For more detailed information on masks, please consult this INRS FAQ which, although not completely up to date, is still useful.

Having to go to work in closed and/or densely frequented premises without widespread use of FFP2 masks is too risky. We ask that these be provided free of charge by companies in place of the surgical masks that most companies have been providing until now.

Hand washing

Hand washing is a good thing no matter what. It is a good hygiene measure in general, which reduces exposure to a number of diseases including monkeypox.

However, Covid-19 spreads primarily by air, it is therefore not through physical contact that one is most likely to get it. Contrary to the false information spread by the French governement, hand washing will not protect you from Covid-19.

The provision of hand sanitising gel is therefore not a sufficient or effective measure against Covid-19.


Since the virus is spread through the air, renewing the air regularly will greatly limit its concentration in the air and therefore the risk of contamination. Ventilation is a simple measure that can be applied in all situations.

The easiest way to assess the level of ventilation in a room and to know when aeration is necessary is to use CO2 sensors. The concentration of CO2 in the air is a good indicator of air renewal, and allows to set up protocols adapted to the measured levels and able to protect workers from Covid-19.

The normal level outside a pollution episode is 450ppm. The recommendations for maximum thresholds are as follows:

  • maximum 600ppm in catering premises where wearing a mask is not possible
  • maximum 800ppm in places where wearing a mask is possible and required

Above these thresholds, it is necessary to evacuate the premises and aerate them until the CO2 concentration returns to normal levels.

Companies regularly try to absolve themselves by claiming that they have a ventilation and/or air conditioning system built into the building. This is not sufficient, as it does not ensure that the air is sufficiently renewed, and it is usually not filtered. Simply cooling contaminated air is useless and dangerous, in particular, air conditioning systems that recycle air increase the concentration of the virus in the air rather than reduce it.

CO2 sensors are cheap for companies and institutions, and relatively easy to use. These points cannot be used as an argument for not using them. There are many different kinds of sensors, for more information on them, including a buying guide, we advise you to visit this community website (in French):

We demand the installation of CO2 sensors in all companies to measure CO2 levels directly at workstations, and the effective implementation of evacuation and ventilation protocols.

Social distancing

As the virus is exhaled by infected people, not getting too close logically reduces direct exposure to air with a high concentration of virus.

While distancing is a good practice, it is highly insufficient. In particular, distancing without any other measures (wearing a FFP2 mask, frequent ventilation) is useless in indoor environments.

As said before, with air circulation the virus will be present in the whole room in a few minutes, and at that moment it will not matter how far people are from each other. The main advantage of distancing is that it reduces the number of people in the room: the fewer people there are, the lower the viral concentration in the air.


It is important to get vaccinated and to get booster shots (currently 3rd dose for most people). It is one of the key elements to protect oneself and others.

The vaccine helps in several ways:

  • it reduces the risk of being infected
  • it greatly reduces the severity of the disease if you are infected
  • it reduces the risk of transmission if infection occurs

While, contrary to the misleading communications of some ministries, vaccination is not a miracle cure, as it does not completely prevent infection and/or illness, it is very effective.

Unfortunately, access to the vaccine is unequal in many ways (age, mobility, computer literacy, geographical location, etc.). This reality, much more than the anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, explains why a portion of the population is still not vaccinated. The State is not fulfilling its role in this respect, on the contrary, so let’s pay attention to those around us and help those who need it to be able to get vaccinated.

Remote work & isolation

Remote work means not having to take public transport, not having to work in an enclosed space with many people who all have other contacts (family, children, people at risk…), and not having to negate the whole point of wearing a mask by taking it off to eat lunch.

Each person who works from home is one less person likely to carry the virus from one place to another, thus reducing the risks for people who cannot work in this way. This is arguably the most effective measure to break the chain of transmission of the virus.

We are concerned here with the global aspect, without denying the particularities of individual situations. Remote work may not be possible or desirable for some people, but this should not prevent its general implementation.

As soon as the epidemic situation requires it, remote work should become systematic in companies that are able to do so, and this is the case in video game studios.

The political causes of the pandemic

Finally, let’s not forget that the current situation is the result of recent but also very old political decisions, at the French and international levels. Fighting the epidemic in the long term will also, and above all, be done on this front.

By promoting and inciting environmental destruction (climate change, deforestation, intensive livestock farming, destruction of natural habitats, etc.), the capitalist economy is directly responsible for the emergence of numerous epidemics, including coronaviruses. There is every reason to believe that this will intensify in the near future if nothing is done at the ecological level.

In France, the fiasco of the 2020 mask shortage is the direct consequence of the last 15 years of political management. To cover its tracks and deny its responsibility, the government lied to the whole country by denying the usefulness of masks, which deprived us of a precious tool to counter the epidemic, before doing a U-turn and making it compulsory to wear them as if nothing had happened, which fed the anti-mask discourse. It is currently doing the same with FFP2 masks: while all medical and scientific circles agree on its necessity, the government is lying by claiming that it is not necessary.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Minister of Education, the reactionary Jean-Michel Blanquer, continues to keep schools open and deny reality. While even the government pointed to schools as the main place of spreading the omicron variant, the start of the 2022 school year has been maintained with a “protocol” that has been lightened instead of strengthened. There is now an uncontrolled outbreak of infections, particularly in schools, which puts even more pressure on hospitals, supplies and testing facilities.

The “all-vaccine” strategy implemented in France can be explained in part by the desire of managers and owners to keep businesses open at all costs. By betting on collective immunity, capitalists hope to be able to continue exploiting workers at all costs. This policy, presented as individualistic, is misleading, reduces its effectiveness, feeds anti-vaccine discourse, and serves as an excuse for the President to continue to divide society further. “We are all in this together” is a false and manipulative argument. It has been demonstrated that great inequalities exist in relation to Covid-19. Moreover, the very rich have never been better off.

The emergence of new variants is a logical consequence of the massive circulation of the virus. We can expect this to continue until global vaccine coverage is achieved. But rich countries, including France, are opposed to the lifting of patents on vaccines, which prevents poor countries, especially in Africa, from having access to the vaccine and prevents us from being able to hope to “get out” of this epidemic.