Demands from workers at Spiders and support for the social movement at Kylotonn

We are relaying this statement from workers at Spiders

Spiders studio is in a situation similar to that of Kylotonn (Kt-Racing): reduced to the role of a subsidiary that dare not speak its name. In practice, it cannot choose the orientation of its productions without the approval of the group, which holds all intellectual property on them, and is subjugated by Nacon’s management, which defines financing terms that give it total power, usually in the form of monthly payments.

At Spiders too, management regularly uses this situation to cut short demands for transparency and negotiation by hiding behind « negotiations between the studio and Nacon » from which workers and their representatives are conveniently excluded.

For more than a year, basic demands to comply with the law, respect social dialogue, be transparent and negotiate collective agreements have remained ignored or blocked by management.

These legitimate demands do however seek to respond to vital issues such as the organisation of remote work, formalisation of production organisation and internal alert processes, transparency on assessment processes, recruitment problems, etc.

The workers at Spiders express their solidarity with those at Kylotonn, who were on strike on July 11 and are on strike again today, and support their social movement. Since we are all in the same boat, our fates are closely linked. We’ll be keeping a close eye on any new developments at our two studios and will take action if necessary.

Following their example, we are also making our demands public. Unsurprisingly, they are similar to the demands made by Kylotonn workers. Our demands to the managements of Spiders and Nacon are as follows:

  1. Begin, before 2024, the negotiations that have been requested for months by workers’ representatives:
    1. Agreement on remote work
    2. Pay scales
    3. Creation of an internal warning and reporting system
    4. Introduction of an anonymous performance evaluation system enabling managers to be evaluated by their teams
    5. Mandatory annual negotiations, never held despite legal requirements
    6. Standardised process for adapting working conditions
  2. Automatic notification and consultation of the workers’ council on matters covered by their responsibilities, as required by law
  3. Transparency on strategies and decisions for recruiting and retaining employees within the studio, to put an end to unequal treatment and recruitment problems that plague productions;
  4. Consultation of all workers during initial game pitches, pre-production and mid-way through production regarding the creative aspects of the games we make
  5. Full and complete transparency on negotiations between Nacon and its subsidiaries, on raises and structural decisions for the group and its studios, through the inclusion of a delegation of workers’ representatives from the group’s studios
  6. Bringing minimum salaries in all of Nacon’s entities into line with the highest ones in the group

Strike at Kylotonn: workers’ demands

We relay this press release from workers on strike at the Kylotonn studio, on Tuesday, July 11, 2023.

In the majority of studios acquired by Nacon, the group :

  • is the studio’s sole shareholder
  • owns the entire intellectual property of any produced games
  • funds the studios on a project-by-project month-by-month basis, giving Nacon real life or death power over the studios.

In practice, this means that the studios act as subcontractors, producing games on behalf of the group, as Nacon subsidiaries.

This structure enables studio and Nacon management to pass the buck whenever workers demand accountability, pay rises and social measures. Workers are preventing from finding intermediaries for discussion, thus cancelling any attempt at negotiation.

On Tuesday July 11, 2023, Nacon Group’s number 2, Laurent Honoret, has presented Nacon’s 2022-2023 balance sheet to Kylotonn workers. This annual event is the only direct point of contact between the studio’s workers and the Nacon Group.

The studio workers took advantage of this moment to ask Nacon if the group would commit to providing more resources for Kylotonn and the group’s studios in general. The aim is to give the studio employee representatives more room to breathe in their negotiations with the studio heads, and to prevent studio management from using Nacon as an excuse to avoid mandatory negotiations.

Laurent Honoret replied: « No ». He added that it was the studio management’s prerogative to negotiate more budget with Nacon. This statement shattered the excuses of Kylotonn’s management, who has always blamed Nacon for the lack of negotiation.

In reaction to this unsatisfactory response, which crowned a series of problems and sufferings long denounced by staff representatives, workers went on strike and left the room after presenting the following demands:

  • Negotiation of a remote work policy with the trade unions
  • Negotiation of minimum wages and compensation with trade unions, in place of unilateral management decisions that penalize a significant proportion of workers
  • Immediate implementation by management of concrete measures to put an end to the pathogenic and authoritarian management style that threatens workers’ mental health and cohesion
  • Negotiation of working conditions adjustment processes, which currently have to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis with great difficulties
  • Opening of compulsory annual negotiations and systematic negotiation with trade unions for all matters falling within their prerogatives
  • Systematic information and consultation of the CSE on matters falling within its purview
  • Full transparency on the negotiations between Nacon and Kylotonn to find out where the deadlock lies, by including employee representatives in these negotiations
  • Same level of transparency for the group’s other studios
  • Immediate wage increases throughout the Nacon group at least equal to those at Kylotonn after renegotiation.

Solidarity against police violence and state racism

In the video games industry, physical violence is often regarded as nothing more than an element of fiction, a gameplay mechanic and a marketing argument. But in other contexts, violence is anything but fictional: in working-class neighbourhoods in mainland France or in the French colonies, cold-blooded murders, along with racist attacks, insults and humiliations, are a daily reality, inflicted by representatives of the state over generations and in total impunity.

The recent murder of Nahel, a 17-year-old, by a police officer in Nanterre comes as a shock because its violence was captured on video, and the intention to kill cannot be questioned. But this murder is not an isolated incident, and the demonstrations that followed are a reaction proportionate to the policies of police repression, segregation and abandonment of the suburbs put in place by successive governments.

We can’t be fooled: such discrimination is part of a strategy to suppress the proletariat as a whole, and the non-white proletariat in particular. Even if at the moment, among video game workers, few of us come from working-class neighbourhoods, overseas territories or isolated regions, we are all affected. As workers, we have far more in common with the “suburban youth” than with the ruling class our bosses belong to.

We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by a government that is trying to make people forget about the murder and racism by fabricating other excuses for the problems, including when it is talking about video games. If we choose to look the other way, to focus on images of anger rather than on its roots and meaning, we are contributing to the fragmentation of our social class and allowing the most marginalised among us to be oppressed. Without solidarity, the state will continue to reinforce discrimination, undermine our rights and impoverish entire populations.

The impunity must end. Justice has to be delivered, not just for Nahel but also for all those we have never heard of. The people arrested in recent days during the demonstrations and sentenced by the justice system must be granted amnesty.

The STJV calls on all workers to always support the families of victims murdered by the police, to be aware of and relay the demands of marginalised communities and to help local organisations to the best of their ability. As a union, we will continue to fight for the replacement of policing with social policies, and for public money to be channelled to those who need it, rather than to the police and corporations as is currently the case.

Repeal of the pension reform – Call for strike actions in the video game industry starting on 6 June 2023

The movement against the pension reform has been going on, in various forms, without interruption since last January, a sign of the strength of the opposition to this reform.

From the beginning, we have been explaining how harmful this reform is for workers, and in particular for the poorest and the elderly. It will lengthen working time, but will also have other disastrous effects: increased precariousness, poverty and unemployment, reduced life expectancy…

Carrying on with this reform is now also a threat to democracy. As its lies to promote it did not convince anyone, and as the extreme majority of the population was opposed to it, the government used many authoritarian measures to impose this reform with unprecedented violence. It was passed into law without ever having been subject to a vote, by a unilateral decision of the government.

In order to reject the forceful introduction of this law, and to cancel its effects, a bill to repeal the pension reform will be presented at the National Assembly on 8 June. Confirming its choice to pursue a fascist strategy on the imposition of this reform, the government has already threatened to use another article of the constitution to outright ban the discussion of this bill.

Two days before, on 6 June, the national inter-union coalition of all the major confederations is calling for a national strike and demonstration day to fight for the repeal of the reform. In addition to this repeal, we are demanding to work less: every week, by introducing a 4-day / 28-hour working week, and throughout our lives by returning to retirement for all at the age of 60.

Joining this coalition, the Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo calls for strike actions in the video game industry from 6 to 11 June 2023 included. We call on workers, unemployed people, pensioners and students in video games to mobilise at companies, general assemblies and demonstrations throughout France. The STJV will be officially present at several demonstrations.

This call covers the STJV’s field of action in the private sector, and therefore applies to any person employed by a video game publishing, distribution, services and/or creation company, whatever their position or status and whatever their company’s area of activity (games, consoles, mobile, serious games, VR/AR, game engines, marketing services, streaming, derivative products, esports, online content creation, etc.), as well as to all teachers working in private schools in video game-related courses. As this is a national strike call, no action is necessary to go on strike: just don’t come to work.

The fight to defend pensions in the video game industry – progress report

In the current context, we did not renew the call for strike action in the video game industry that had been in place since 20 March, but we are still monitoring the movement and are ready to mobilise, especially for the next important action days.

The STJV and video game workers have been fully involved in the struggle against the pension reform since January. This ongoing struggle has seen the movement expand to many other issues: destruction of unemployment insurance, racist migration policies, climate change, police repression, anti-fascism, and many others. It is also a time of change and experimentation, at least in the video game industry.

We’re using this moment to take a step back and reflect on the experience and lessons we’ve learned from the movement so far, and to draw up plans for the future. Hopefully, this will also help our comrades outside the video game industry.

A strong movement

The first thing to note is that, very quickly, this movement has seen a massive mobilisation on a national level. Since the beginning, the video game industry has responded with a mobilisation that has never been as strong, especially during the national strike days.

We have seen record strike rates in most companies, which demonstrates the potential for worker mobilisation in our industry. Participation in the STJV’s demonstration marches has also repeatedly and overwhelmingly broken the 2019 attendance records.

This mobilisation also extends far beyond the main hubs of the industry. While mobilisation has been constant in cities with many video game companies, it has also been regular in the so-called medium and small cities where video game workers are present.

Apart from the national strike days, we observe a smaller participation, but one that has lasted for many months, in local blockades and support actions for other campaigns and industries. The practice of strike action in our industry has thus been able to spread outside the national mobilisations.

Which confirms the unionisation of the industry and its importance

Since the beginning of the movement, many french unions have been reporting a significant increase in new memberships, and the STJV is one of them : the stream of new members have been really high, and this tendency has maintained itself for longer than expected. To us, this is a sign that unionisation of our industry as a mean of struggle is a method seriously taken into consideration by more and more workers.

In addition to new members, we also see many new workers taking an active part in the movement. For many of them, this movement is an occasion to learn, to get into politics, to get answers to their questions, and to take part in demonstrations and strike for the first time of their life. New STJV sections, such as those at Sloclap, Kylotonn and Virtuos, have been created during the movement, and many others are being created right now.

Taking part in local actions has also given us the opportunity to meet workers from other industries and unions, and therefore to create new interprofessional bonds. Our comrades have been able to create strong relationships with other workers, and to exchange stories, methods and experiences, keeping class solidarity alive.

Which opens to new practices

The actions conducted in support of comrades from other industries have then shown their usefulness all along, and have been recognised , both inside and outside of our industry. Experimenting new types of support, such as the « tour de grève » conducted by video game workers to support garbage colletor’s and incinerator workers’ picket lines around Paris, has been really positive.

Locally supporting other industries’ strikes to build up together a general and durable strike seems like a sound strategy. In the future, the STJV will consider how to strenghten and intensify this kinf of support to industries outside our own.

To give ourselves the means to fight in the long term, we have created, for the first time, a nation-wide strike fund. It gave us the possibility to compensate for hundreds of striking days, for many workers, allowing more precarious jobs to take part in the movement. Now that the process is in place and has been experimented widely, this strike fund will be made permanent to fill up this role throughout all social movements.

And shapes the futur of our union struggle

However, we have to admit the governement’s hasn’t yielded on its pension reform yet. We condemn their position and their lack of consideration for political options other than making workers work longer and systematically bypassing democratic processes.

If it is hard to talk about a victory on these points, it is on the contrary relavant for many others : increased unionisation, better image of unions, strong experience gain in our union and industry, new durable relationships with other unions and workers…

As a syndicalist union, the STJV is aware that class struggle is not a matter of months and that nothing is set in stone. Even if we are currently in a phase in which attacks from the ruling class against established social rights of the proletariat are neverending, each new brick of organisation will allow us to build future victories.

The future and the work to be done is clear :

  • In our industry, build up a mass union by increasing unionisation and the expertise of our members, build up a balance of power in our favor notably through union sections, and use our new fighting experiences to win local victories.
  • At the national leve, multiply relationships with other unions and workers from other industries, in order to increase interprofessional coordination and open up to new possibilites of action, to intensify and strengthen future movements.

The struggle is far from over. We will keep monitoring the movement and are ready to restart a national strike to support future actions. In the meantime, we will keep working on local and day-to-day union work, with the hope of better planning the next steps, ever onward to victory.

Local actions and call to strike from March 20 to May 8, 2023

Renewal of the call until 8 May 2023

After an exceptional May Day, the biggest in France since 2002, where the video game industry was massively present in demonstrations and where the STJV again broke records for the size of its marches, the movement against the pension reform remains active.

Local mobilisations to prevent the government from continuing to live as if nothing had happened carry on everywhere and all the time, and workers are regrouping and planning the next stage of the movement without waiting for the next national date called by the intersyndicale on June 6.

In order to allow video game workers to do this planning work, to continue to mobilise and to strike at any time half a day or an hour in support of the various actions and picket lines, the STJV has decided to renew this call to strike until Monday 8 May 2023 included.

Renewal of the call until May 3, 2023

Since the start of the week, the government has been trying to project an image of a return to normal life by increasing the number of ministerial visits, and is once again counting on racism to make people forget about the pension reform. This was all in vain, as all the ministerial and presidential trips were disrupted, and many of them were blocked.

In the video game industry, we can note that workers have participated in actions everywhere, in particular on the day of local actions on April 20.

The movement will carry on every day, in particular with actions planned on April 28, World Day for Safety and Health at Work, all over the country. The STJV will take part and communicate about the day’s actions in several major cities, to encourage video game workers to join us.

Then will come the demonstrations on May 1, Labour Day. Trade unions and other political organisations will be highly active on this day. The STJV invites all video game workers to join these demonstrations, which will take place on a public holiday, to show their commitment to the democracy and collective welfare that the government is so keen to destroy.

In order to allow video game workers to continue to mobilise in demonstrations and to strike at any time for half a day, or an hour, in support of the various actions and pickets, the STJV has decided to renew this call for strike action until Wednesday May 3, 2023 included.

Renewal of the call until April 23, 2023

This week will mark the beginning of the 4th month of the movement against the pension reform. Still strong and enduring, it still has the support of 2/3 of French people.

The Constitutional Council has unsurprisingly validated the law. On his side, Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity to promulgate the law immediately after this partial validation, trampling once again the whole social movement.

This does not change anything. In 2006 the CPE law was implicitly withdrawn after its promulgation thanks to the protest movement that stood up to it. We will also continue until the law is withdrawn.

While waiting for the demonstrations on May 1st, Labour Day, when a very strong turnout is expected to show that the promulgation of this reform will not change our determination, it is very important to continue to mobilise locally in demonstrations or gatherings, in support of the workers on the picket lines, and to multiply actions throughout the country.

Days of action and mobilisation are already planned for April 20 and 28. The STJV will be participating and communicating about the days’ actions in several major cities to encourage all video game workers to join us.

In order to allow video game workers to continue to mobilise in demonstrations and to strike for half a day or an hour at any time in support of the various actions and picket lines, the STJV has decided to renew this call for strike action until Sunday 23 April 2023 included.

Renewal of the call until April 16, 2023

Once again this week, the mobilisation against the pension reform continued with the success of the intersyndicale day of mobilisation last Thursday, as well as with strikes, blockades and spontaneous actions that took place throughout the week in the country.

The meeting between the intersyndicale and Elisabeth Borne, on Wednesday 5 April, ended hastily following the Prime Minister’s refusal to address the subject of the pension reform. The government once again shows us that the only argument it understands is force.

The next institutional step is the decision of the Constitutional Council, which will be made on Friday 14 April, and may decide to censor the reform entirely or partially. Given that this Council is reluctant to challenge governments, it is important to once again show our determination to fight against this reform.

It is important to remember that, even if they were to validate it, laws such as the one on the Contrat Première Embauche (First Job Contract) have been withdrawn after going through the institutional “circuit”. It is therefore more important than ever to maintain the pressure and to show our rejection of the methods and the future that the government is selling us.

The social movement, firmly rooted in the long term, is starting to make the government retreat on the reforms it wants to impose on the country: this weekend, the decree on the presumption of quitting in case of an abandonment of job was postponed, and the strong mobilisation of young people has pushed the government to postpone the generalisation of the compulsory SNU (Universal National Service).

The attempt to dissolve the association Les Soulèvements de la Terre, the threats to the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (Human Rights League) and the planned massive police round-up in Mayotte remind us that we are also currently fighting for our fundamental rights.

In order to allow video game workers to continue to mobilise in demonstrations and to strike half a day or an hour at any time to support the various actions and picket lines, the STJV has decided to renew this call to strike until Sunday 16 April 2023 included.

Once again this week, all over France, in local actions, on the picket lines, and especially for the demonstration day on Thursday 13 April, let’s strike and never let down!

Renewal of the call until April 9, 2023

Driven directly by workers, students, pensioners, high school students… the movement is resisting the government’s indifference and the gradual disengagement of a few unions.

Demonstrations too large to be banned, government trips blocked, frequent blockades are helping us win the war of attrition. As a proof, and even if there is nothing to expect from it, the government even deigned to invite unions on April 5 to negotiate, something that had never happened since the beginning of the movement.

In order to allow video game workers to continue to mobilise in demonstrations and to strike for half a day or an hour at any time in support of the various actions and picket lines, the STJV has decided to renew this call for strike action until Sunday 9 April 2023 included.

The STJV particularly calls for strikes and demonstrations on Thursday, April 6 all over France and to reinforce the picket lines of requisitioned industries.

Renewal of the call until April 2, 2023

Since last week, the movement against the pension reform has evolved. The number of actions is increasing, new industries are joining the strike movement… while the government is sinking into its silence.

The government’s contempt, which dares to claim that the pension reform project is already beyond us, is matched only by the wave of repression it has unleashed. By resorting to illegal actions and letting the police unleash a storm of violence, it has expanded the scope of the ongoing movement.

In addition to obtaining the withdrawal of the pension reform, we must now broadly reject the permanent use of violence by the political system in place and demand in particular: the cancellation of measures to weaken unemployment insurance the withdrawal of the racist immigration law project, the withdrawal of the dystopian surveillance measures planned for the 2024 Olympics, the banning of giant retention basins projects and the dissolution of the BRAV-M.

In order to keep up the pressure and to allow video game workers to continue to mobilise in demonstrations and locally on various actions and picket lines, on March 25 the STJV decided to renew this call for strike action until Sunday April 2, 2023 included.

The STJV is particularly calling for strikes and demonstrations on Tuesday 28 March all over France, to support the campaigns mentioned above and to reinforce the picket lines of requisitioned industries. The STJV will be officially present at several demonstrations.

Isolated and increasingly entrenched in its authoritarianism, the French government has once again activated article 49.3 of the constitution to forcibly pass the pension reform.

Deaf to the demonstrations, polls, unions, MPs, petitions, and the general population… it leaves us with no other choice than to take it to the next level and mobilise massively simultaneously through strikes, demonstrations and blockades.

As a result, and to continue the movement launched on March 7, the Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo is calling for strike actions in the video game industry from March 20 to 26 included to demand the cancellation of the reform and a reduction of working hours and years.

At the national level, the STJV will be present at the demonstrations on Thursday 23 March. But we encourage video game workers, job seekers, pensioners and students to take advantage of this call to mobilise immediately in companies and general assemblies, to join the local actions that will take place all over France during this period and to support other industries on their picket lines and blockades.

This call covers the STJV’s field of action in the private sector, and therefore applies to any person employed by a video game publishing, distribution, services and/or creation company, whatever their position or status and whatever their company’s area of activity (games, consoles, mobile, serious games, VR/AR, game engines, marketing services, streaming, derivative products, esports, online content creation, etc.), as well as to all teachers working in private schools in video game-related courses. As this is a national strike call, no action is necessary to go on strike: just don’t come to work.

For those who cannot go on strike, it is also possible to participate via the STJV strike fund.

In the video game industry, the fight against gender oppression will go through unions

8 mars STJV

March 8th is the international day of struggle for the rights of women and gender minorities. It celebrates the historical and current struggles of feminist movements. The video game industry, far from being locked in a bubble of apolitical passion, is an environment where sexist and sexual violence thrives and where these struggles are very much alive.

Today, cisgender men make up more than 75% of game workers and hold a majority of positions of power. Their over-representation leads to a homogenisation of video games and difficult, violent and dangerous workplace environments for women and people of marginalised genders.

Yet this was not always the norm, as women were the first to work in programming. The story of the « human computers » – invisible for a long time – is becoming more widely known thanks to the work of feminist activists. Similarly, women have been involved in the field of video games from the beginning, in contrast to the fantasy of the solitary developer in his parents’ garage. As in the rest of society, women occupy essential roles in production and contribute to the creation of cultural works. But their work is made invisible and discredited, and their presence is reduced to a “list of notable women”.

State of play

Feminist organisations in the industry

The low presence of women in the industry is a social and political problem. For several years the SNJV, one of the industry’s employers’ lobbying groups, has presented its own statistics to give a subjective account of the French video game industry. The growth in women employment in the industry that bosses congratulate themselves about every year remains pathetic: the share of women workers in studios gravitates around 20%.

Women’s organisations – sometimes reluctant to define themselves as feminist – are trying to encourage the presence of women in the industry. The most influential ones include among their members employers’ organisations, game publishers and studios that have been criticised for their sexist and misogynistic corporate culture. They believe that they are virtually required to do so in order to exist politically and have the financial resources to support women in the industry.

It can be acknowledged that these organisations can be useful as a springboard for women who are not very politically aware and are just discovering feminist issues. We all started out with no political and feminist consciousness. Angry and radical ideas develop over the course of one’s life, and it doesn’t take much to build engaged people.

Despite this, the existence of alliances between these organisations, employers’ lobbies and publishers is problematic, both in terms of preventing violence and in terms of radical feminist strategy:

  • their actions serve to whitewash the actions against women taken by the studios, publishers or schools they work with;
  • their initiatives only highlight women as part of symbolic performances, setting them up as tokens of diversity to comply with the hypocritical statements of employers’ organisations;
  • their structure sets the conditions for the emergence and perpetuation of a white, ableist, bourgeois feminism, which will never understand the lives of other women and which, in the long run, will further exclude precarious, LGBT+, racialised and/or disabled women from the industry;
  • these alliances imply a lack of independence from publishers and employers’ lobbies, who will shut down any feminist criticism deemed too aggressive, and have already prevented these organisations from speaking out about recent revelations.

The fight against oppression in video games will not succeed as long as it serves as a way for employers to promote their interests. They have already revealed their hypocrisy by lobbying politicians to get them to withdraw an amendment imposing a gender equality requirement on the allocation of video game tax credits. They only serve their own interests, and never those of women and gender minorities. It is no longer necessary to prove that the video game industry has long favoured the development of toxic working environments for women and gender minorities, who still suffer from sexist and sexual violence.

The defensive reactions of people in power

In recent years, the general and specialized press has reported on the systemic violence that flourished in the video game industry. This journalistic production comes directly from what some have called the liberation of women’s speech, even if, in fact, women did not wait for the arrival of social networks to talk, especially among themselves, about what they were going through.

In response to this bad press, the bosses, studios and school administrators have put in place numerous initiatives to promote diversity policies which are, as we have already been able to demonstrate, only communication campaigns. Women who carry out these diversity policies are expected to be docile and not challenge the established order, allowing management to ignore the discriminatory working conditions that people of marginalized genders face.

At the forefront of these communication campaigns are renowned publishers: Riot Games, Activision-BlizzardUbisoft, and many others where there are still thriving boys club and misogynistic, sexist and dangerous environments for women and people of marginalized genders. Smaller studios are not exempt from these environments and, on the contrary, the precariousness that reigns there encourages behaviors of harassment and violence.

In almost all cases, bosses and people in positions of power (managers, HR) protect each other and use anti-democratic corporate structures to shelter themselves. Regardless of the size of the business, women and people of marginalized genders face the same choice: shut up and suffer, or leave.

Fighting precariousness

Women and gender minorities are over-represented in the most precarious occupations, whatever the industry. Because of the discrimination imposed on them, they encounter greater difficulties in finding a job, accumulating experience, gaining recognition for their expertise… which leaves them less freedom to refuse jobs and precarious working conditions. In addition, they are very often responsible for reproductive work in their “free” time, whether it is domestic work, children or other family responsibilities.

There are solutions to break this precariousness: improve job stability, promote the reduction of working time without loss of pay, set up unlimited days off, put an end to the cooptation that maintains boys club, and many more. The demands made by the STJV in March and June last year respond to these needs.

Discrimination, sexist and sexual violence will not disappear by magic. This will go as much through training as through the direct evolution of working conditions, by giving back agency to women and people of marginalized gender.

It is the collective organization of the people concerned, us, game industry workers, which makes it possible to create real places of exchange, support and activism outside of any dependence on the logics of capitalist exploitation. Through union action, we can force employers to accept our demands for a fairer video game industry.

affiche stjv 8 mars 2023

Unions as a mean of contestation

Women and people of marginalized genders have always been present in labor movement. March 8, the international day for women’s rights, has its origins in the strike of workers in Saint Petersburg on March 8, 1917, which triggered the Russian revolutions. It was neither the first nor the last time that women took action.

Although their fights, like their place in working society, are invisible in labor history, the mobilizations of women are driving forces and are not limited to one area. With patriarchy and capitalism feeding off each other, when women fight for specific rights, they often advance rights and working conditions for society as a whole. The revolution will be feminist or it will not be.

In game development, we can mention the Kotaku article in 2018 and the Riot Games workers’ strike in 2019, the collective organization of affected people has shaken up the established order. Their mobilizations have led to legal actions and, we hope soon, to major changes in working conditions for the video game industry in the USA.

By creating the STJV in 2017, we aimed to destroy the last ideological bastions that said that the video game sector was a big family, a place of passion without politics. For more than five years, we have been fighting to make the professional environment of French video games more just for all workers, and in particular for women and people of marginalized genders who continue to suffer from working conditions and deleterious existence.

Unions are fighting spaces for the rights of women and people of marginalized gender, whether it is a question of creating spaces for speaking out in single-sex groups, of providing legal support for women who are victims of sexist and sexual violence inside companies, to force the bosses to give power back to the employees or to undermine the authority and the power of the aggressors and those who protect them. What gives us the power to speak out and act is to be able to come together, recognize our common problems, know our rights, train ourselves on the violence we suffer, qualify it, and support each other to obtain justice and break the system at the origin of this violence.

Joining a union is reaffirming a pact of friendship, solidarity and mutual defense between all video game workers. It is to train on how to listen our comrades testimonies, to acknowledge rape culture’s harm, and it is to fight against the patriarchal mechanisms at work in our circles. It means breaking our isolation and helping each other to create the balance of power that will improve our living conditions for all.

We, women and marginalized people of the STJV call on our peers to unionize to form a radical feminist bloc and together create the conditions necessary to destroy the entire system of patriarchal violence in the video game sector. May, never again, no woman and no marginalized person who comes into the industry, have to go through what we have gone through, and that oppressors shall meet their consequences.

débranchons le système patriarcal stjv

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.

A look back at the Ubisoft France strike of January 27, 2023

This statement was written by the STJV union sections at Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Montpellier and Ubisoft Annecy

On Friday, January 27, we were calling for a strike at all companies of the Ubisoft group in France, together with Solidaires Informatique. This strike follows Yves Guillemot’s announcement that the fiscal year will be difficult and that we must show some effort in the coming year.

Once again, it is we, the workers, who are being asked to bear the burden of the management’s bad decisions, over which we have no influence. We are not fooled by the hypocrisy of this message: when the company is doing well, we are struggling to pick up the scraps, and when it is doing poorly, we are expected to bear the consequences.

This is why we demand :

  • negotiations on salaries to obtain increases in line with inflation, in addition to annual increases
  • a democratisation of the company’s organisation so that we can finally have a say in the decisions taken
  • the possibility for production teams to do their job properly, in other words to have the power to decide the content of the games we produce

This historic strike rallied many people. About forty of us gathered on site in Paris, twenty in Montpellier and we were more than a hundred strikers throughout France. These gatherings allowed us to share our feelings about the company’s policies, but above all to build collective support: you are not alone, your colleagues are experiencing the same pressures as you. Together, we can stand up to management and make our voices heard.

Without us, games do not exist, it is normal that we can have our say.

This first strike experience was very rich and instructive, and we are proud to have been able to come together like this. As a result, our union section representatives were able to discuss with management our concerns about inflation and the infamous ‘natural attrition’.

This strike is a first step in the building of a power balance which already gives us more dialogue power via our workers’ representatives, but we must not stop there.

Management must know that we are present and take our opinion into account. This is why we stay alert to management’s communication and the next decisions that will be taken, and will not let go of our demands. This strike was a warning shot, the ball is now in the management’s court.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us directly at or through your local union representatives.

Call for an extendable general strike on 7 and 8 March and beyond

Renewal of the call until 19 march 2023

The week of 6 March saw the start of extendable strikes, huge days of mobilisation on 7 and 11 March for pensions and on 8 March for the international day of struggle for the rights of women and gender minorities, and the multiplication of local actions.

Next Wednesday, the 15, the text of the pension reform will be studied by the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which includes representatives of the Assembly and the Senate. This is the last stage in the process of drafting the law, and its outcome may be the adoption of the pension reform. To mark the occasion, this day will be a major day of mobilisation and demonstrations.

In order to keep up the pressure and continue the mobilisation of video game workers, on 11 March the STJV decided to renew its call for strike action until Sunday 19 March 2023 included.

In particular, the STJV is calling on workers to strike and demonstrate on Wednesday 15 March throughout France, to mobilise workers in companies for these dates, and to take part in local actions. The STJV will be officially present at several demonstrations.

The proposed pensions reform, as unpopular as ever, is unfortunately still on the table. Since 19 January, a social movement of almost unprecedented scale has been opposing it. And video game workers have been involved in large numbers.

We refuse to see the precariousness of people without jobs at the end of their careers and pensioners worsen, and we refuse to see poor people and workers die working before they reach retirement. Instead, we want to return to full retirement at 60 for everyone, funded by an increase in the lowest wages and gender pay equality.

After a series of isolated strike days and demonstrations, and while the text of the reform is being heatedly debated in the National Assembly, we have to face the facts: so far the government remains indifferent. All unions, even the most reformist ones, agree on the need to remain united and to strengthen the movement.

The upcoming 8 March is the international day of struggle for the rights of women and gender minorities, categories particularly affected by this reform. Already penalised under the current system by, among other things, lower wages, unrecognised strenuous work and incomplete careers, they will be even more so if this reform passes. The government’s own estimates show that the negative impacts of this reform will be almost doubled for women.

It is necessary to take into account the intersection between the effects of existing discriminations and those of the successive reforms aimed at destroying society, and therefore to broaden the movement: pensions are only one part of the problem.

The next step in the movement against the pensions reform will be a general strike, whose explicit aim is to block the whole French economy, starting on 7 March. It will be renewed for 8 March, and until the reform is withdrawn.

The Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo is therefore calling for a strike in the video game industry from 7 to 12 March. We call on workers, unemployed people, pensioners and students from the video game industry to mobilise in companies, general assemblies and actions that will take place everywhere in France during this period.

Let’s join together wherever we can to discuss, learn, organise, build up local demands, and generally turn this general strike into a moment of struggle, joy and rest, until victory!

This call covers the STJV’s field of action in the private sector, and therefore applies to any person employed by a video game publishing, distribution, services and/or creation company, whatever their position or status and whatever their company’s area of activity (games, consoles, mobile, serious games, VR/AR, game engines, marketing services, streaming, derivative products, esports, online content creation, etc.), as well as to all teachers working in private schools in video game-related courses. As this is a national strike call, no action is necessary to go on strike: just don’t come to work.