Gumi Europe’s employees laid off at a discount !

We relay a statement from our colleagues at gumi Europe, from Paris. A japanese version of the statement is available below the english one.

 

Following the official announcement of the termination of its latest game, Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner, gumi Europe (developer and publisher) will be closing down.

The employees denounce cheap severance packages, and are pointing out the parent company’s, Tokyo-based gumi Inc., responsibilities in this closure.

What is gumi Inc. being criticized for ?

  • The conditions offered to people being laid off are minimal, in spite of all the mutual and personal investments during the game’s extremely tense development phase;
  • The company hasn’t considered finding alternative or exploratory solutions in order to facilitate the redeployment of gumi EU’s future ex-employees or the future of their careers;
  • gumi EU (France-based European branch of gumi Inc.) benefits from public funding in the form of a tax credit granted by the CNC, the french institution in charge of public funding for the video game industry, for a value of 1,5 million euros, while at the same time destroying jobs without considering ways to preserve them;
  • gumi Inc. is putting a lot of blame on gumi EU, going as far as questioning its own employees’ skills, in order to justify its decision to shut down gumi EU. However gumi Europe, being a branch of gumi Inc., cannot be held responsible for management errors attributable to the parent company, which held all decision power.

gumi Inc. is wasting human talent

After an important reorganisation phase between 2016 and 2017 (with the replacement of a large part of the workforce), after more than 2 years of development, and after the international launch of Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner, gumi Inc. has suddenly decided to shut down the game and to close the Paris studio (gumi EU). While the decision appears to have been taken by gumi Inc. as soon as October 2018, the workers’ representative was only told about it officially in April 2019, after 6 months of a demotivating atmosphere of uncertainty taking hold on the studio.

Consequently between October 2018, date at which the marketing budget for the game was gradually reduced (until it reached 0) and a month long waiting time followed the release of the game, and April 2019, date at which the employees finally learned about the studio’s closure, more than 20 people left the company after their contract were not renewed or following their resignation due to the lack of motivation. This lead to several departments being unable to operate correctly and having to resort to makeshift solutions in order to keep running the game and release new content for the community every week, a crucial element with the free to play economic model. To give a few examples, in February 2019 gumi EU started operating without a marketing department, and in April 2019 the internal QA team was reduced to… 2 interns!

A worsening phenomenon, after the effective stop in marketing in October 2018 gumi Inc. set extremely ambitious goals for gumi EU with a deadline for December 2018, too short to be realistically achieved. Achieving these goals was the condition set by gumi Inc. to start investing in marketing again. As gumi EU’s workers were already scrambling to fill out the positions left open in the studio, they had to invest themselves even more to try to achieve these goals, which meant they had to resort to working at night and on weekends. This renewed practice of crunch was already a recurring thing at gumi EU, to allow the studio to achieve the delivery goals set by gumi Inc. All of this happened while gumi Inc. was already considering shutting down the branch.

The workforce at gumi EU is talented and has skills that can be reused in other studios or activities of the group (video games, VR, crypto-currency, etc.).Gumi Inc. didn’t show any intention to do skill assessments of its employees or to try redeploying the, instead choosing to abruptly close the studio without caring for its employees.

Moreover, although it happened before in the group’s history (during Stockholm’s studio closure in 2016) and despite explicit request by some employees, gumi Inc. refuses to sell the game’s source code, which would have allowed to secure the creation of a new studio for at least 10 ex-employees who would have benefited from 3 years of technological development. Gumi Inc. never mentioned searching for an external buyer or the possibility to sell to the workers. By doing that, gumi Inc. shows yet again they have no intention to make any effort to secure the future of their ex-employees.

gumi demolisher of the community’s trust

The free to play model for games relies on the trust established between the developers and the players’ community. To help establish it, the teams at gumi EU have made – since 2014 and the first project operated by the studio, Brave Frontier – numerous efforts and listened to players’ feedback and expectations thanks to its community managers. It resulted in several hundred thousand hours of in-game play, and at least as many euros invested in the game by players. This virtuous circle was brutally brought to an end by gumi Inc.’s decision to shut down the game, which lead to a rapid breakdown of the built-up community following the announcement of the game’s closure on June 11th 2019. The community feels ripped off after so much commitment.

Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner sadly represents only one of several such cases at gumi. It leads us to think that gumi Inc. sees its community of players only as a financial reserve, while omitting the prerequisite trust in its relationship with them. It must also be added that community managers communicate with players non-anonymously, and that their identity is public. It causes a problem of reputation on the job market. How can they dissociate their personal reputation from the one of an employer whose commitment is untrustworthy?

gumi is getting public funding but does not respect its promises

1,5 million euros of public funding has been granted to gumi EU in the form of a tax credit, to help with the development and launch of Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner.

As a quid pro quo, it is implicitly asked that the development and commercialisation plans for the games be respected. But in the plan presented to the CNC (which grants public funding for video games), which allowed for the validation of the tax credit, 3,5 million euros over several months were planned. In the end only 500 000 euros were actually invested in marketing, speeding up the collapse of the game’s fame and giving gumi Inc. an excuse for their decision to close gumi EU, since the results they were asking for were not achieved.

The situation is both one of failure to respect these declarations and commitments, and one of deliberately creating the conditions that lead to the situation necessary for the group to justify the closure of gumi Europe.

For all these reasons, gumi EU’s employees feel cheated and not respected, considering their investment on the 3 years production of the game.

Moreover, the management at gumi hired some highly skilled persons outside of France (primarily from Europe and Asia) and had them move on promises of long-term career plans (promises of more games being produced by gumi EU). None of that will happen, and we have the common feeling that it is our duty to keep the bond of trust that made these people come to France intact, to protect our attractiveness and competitiveness.

The employees at gumi Europe are asking for the reconsideration and reevaluation of their severance packages, and hope that their demands will be heard before they have to take legal action.


Japanese version

gumi Europe の従業員が安く首切り!

最新のゲーム「Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner」の取り消しが発表された後、開発者と出版社gumi Europeは閉鎖する予定だ。

gumiの従業員はケチな調整手当を攻撃して、閉鎖の責任は東京で位置された親会社gumi Inc.にあるということを指摘している。

gumi Inc. はなぜ非難されている?

ゲームの緊迫した開発段階の間に互いと個人のインベストメントのくせに、首切った従業員に与えた調整手当は最小だ。

会社は gumi EUの元従業員の再配置、キャリアの未来を促進するために代替解決を考慮に入れていなかった。

gumi Inc. のヨーロッパの子会社で、フランスで位置されたgumi EUは公的資金から利を得るのに雇用を保つ方法を考慮せずに仕事を廃棄している。この公的資金はCNCというのフランスの協会が与えている税額控除で、15十万ユーロの価値だ。

この閉鎖を弁解するために、gumi Inc. は gumi EU に非難をつけていて、自分の従業員のスキルも疑問している。しかし、gumi EU は gumi Inc. の子会社なので、全部の決定を行った親会社の運営失態に責められるのはいけない。

gumi Inc. は人材を無駄にしている

2016年から2017年までの重要な更生段階(大勢の人員が入り変えた時)の後も、2年間以上の開発の後も、「Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner」の国際発売の後も、gumi Inc. は突如ゲームを取り消し、パリのスタジオ(gumi EU)を閉鎖するという決定をした。この決定が2018年10月の程度早く行われたようなのに、従業者の代表者はつい2019年4月に告げられていた。それまでに、やる気を失わせる空気が6月間にわたってスタジオで現れた。

その結果、2018年10月から2019年4月(従業者がついにスタジオの閉鎖について聞いた時)まで、請負が更新しなかった理由で、それともやる気が失ったから辞職した理由で20人以上が会社をやめた。そのため、いくつかの部門は正しく運営できなくなった。ゲームを続けて、新しいコンテンツを毎週にコミュニティに与えるために、その場限りの解決が必要になった。たとえば、2019年2月にgumi EUがマーケティング部門なしで運営しはじめた。2019年4月に、社内のQAチームが2人のインターンに切った。

もっとひどいのは、マーケティングが2018年10月に終わった後、gumi Inc. が gumi EUにすごく野心的な目標を設定した。締め切りは2018年12月で、遂げることは現実的にできなかった。マーケティングにもう一度投資するように、この目標を達成することは gumi Inc. が設定した条件だった。gumi EU の従業員はもう必死にスタジオの欠員を補充してみていたから、この目標を達成するようにもっとがんばらなければならなかった。それで、夜間と週末に働く仕方がなかった。実は、gumi Inc. が設定した目標を達成するように、この新たにしたクランチュという実行はもう gumi EU で繰り返されている現象だった。この時期に、 gumi Inc. はもう子会社の閉鎖を考慮に入れていった。

Gumi EU の従業員は才能があって、ほかのスタジオや活動に再配置できるスキルもある(ゲーム、VR、暗号通貨など)。gumi Inc. はこの従業員を能力評価するか、再配置する意向を示せず、むしろ不意にスタジオを閉鎖する決定した。

その上、gumi グループの歴史に前に起こったが(ストックホルムのスタジオが2016年に閉鎖したの間)、ある従業員がはっきりと頼んだのに、gumi Inc. はゲームのソースコードの売却を断っている。この売却は新しいスタジオの設立を可能にして、少なくとも10人の元従業員が3年間の技術開発から利する可能性もある。gumi Inc. は社外の購買者を探すことや従業員に売ることも全然話し合わなかった。このように、gumi Inc. は元従業員の将来を確保するに努力の意向がないということがまたまた明らかにした。

Gumi Inc. はコミュニティの信頼を破壊している

ゲームの「F2P」モデルは開発者とプレイヤーコミュニティの間に築いた信頼を頼りにするということだ。この信頼を築くために、gumi EU のチームは、スタジオの最初のプロジェク「Brave Frontier」が2014年に発売された以来、コミュニティマネージャーのおかげでプレイヤーのフィードバックと期待を聞いて、色々な努力した。その結果は、数十万時間のゲームプレイで、プレイヤーが数十万のユーロをゲームに投資した。この好循環は gumi Inc. がゲームを閉鎖する決定したので終わった。この決定のせいで、2019年6月11日にゲームの閉鎖が公表した後、既成のコミュニティが急に没落した。この程度の掛かり合いの後、コミュニティは巻き上げられたと感じている。

残念ながら、「Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner」はgumi Inc. で多くある中の一例にすぎぬ。gumi Inc. が必要な信頼を考えずプレイヤーコミュニティを資金しか視しないという情勢のようだ。その上、コミュニティマネージャーはプレイヤーと話す時、匿名ではなくて、むしろ氏名は公開だ。それで、就職したら問題を来す可能性もある。自分の評判をどうやって信頼できない会社から分けられるだろうか。

gumi EU は公的資金をもらうのに約束を守らない

「Brave Frontier: The Last Summoner」の開発と発売を促進するために、15十万ユーロの公的資金が税額控除の形式でgumi EU に与えられていた。

それの代わりとして、ゲームの開発と商業化の計画が行われることは暗黙的に要求された。しかし、CNC(ゲーム開発に公的資金を与える協会)に提案した計画で、数ヵ月の間にわたって35十万ユーロが約束した。とどのつまり5十万ユーロしかは実際にマーケティングに投資しなかった。それがゲームの没落を早めて、gumi Inc. の gumi EU を閉鎖する決定に口実を与えて、gumi Inc. が要求した業績は達成していなかったからだ。

宣言と責任を尊敬する失敗で、gumi EUの閉鎖が必要になった情勢をわざと作ったという情勢だ。

以上の理由で、3年間のゲーム開発段階に努力を考慮にいれて、gumi EU の従業員は裏切られたよな気がする。

その上、gumi の経営はフランスの外から(主に欧州とアジアから)熟練した人材を雇って、長期のキャリアプランの約束(つまり、gumi EU がゲームを作り続けるという約束)を通じでこの人材を引っ越させた。その約束は破れた。私たちは共通の感じがあって、魅力と競争力をまもるために、この人材がフランスに来させられた信頼を尊敬するのは義務だという感じだ。

gumi EU の従業員は調整手当の再考と再評価を願っていて、法的手段が必要になる前に要求が聞かれたと希望する。

Eugen Systems sacks 6 workers involved in ongoing pay dispute

On the 19th of December, 6 workers were fired by Eugen Systems. This represents about a quarter of the 21 employees left at Eugen. At the beginning of 2018, Eugen Systems staff numbered around 50. Although the firings were apparently unconnected with the ongoing dispute over pay, we believe that this was an act of retaliation and a preemptive move by management ahead of a case over low pay being brought against Eugen Systems by 15 employees as well as the STJV. The case is due to go before the labour tribunal in March 2019.

The dispute began towards the end of 2016 when Eugen Systems workers discovered they were being paid less than the mandated minimums set out by their employment contracts, which are governed by national pay agreement that covers the IT sector, including video game workers. Eugen workers asked for back pay and salary adjustments to bring their pay into line with the legal minimums.

A typical example is one Eugen Systems employee with a Master’s degree in games and two years’ industry experience who was being paid a salary of around 21,600 € (24,777 USD) per year. Such a salary is well under the already low minim um salary applicable in France for such a worker, which is around 28,200 € (32,348 USD).

On February 14th, 2018, after 15 months of negotiations that had gone nowhere, almost half the studio (21 workers out of a remaining 44 by that time) decided to take strike action upon receiving yet another pay slip showing they had been paid less than they were entitled to.

The strike ended on April 3rd, after having garnered international press coverage and support. With no progress made, the dispute was taken to the labour tribunal.

Low pay is a serious problem in the French games industry. This is particularly felt by game developers working in Paris, which is one of the world’s most expensive cities. Eugen Systems’ studio is located in central Paris.

The 6 workers were ostensibly fired for having negatively affected the mood (“dégradé l’ambiance”) of the studio and used insulting language in a conversation that took place in a private chat channel. All 6 were participants in this year’s strike.

End of the strike at Eugen Systems

We are once again relaying a communiqué written by our fellow strikers from the Parisian studio Eugen Systems. You can support them through their strike fund, all participations are welcome : https://www.lepotcommun.fr/pot/kfy5g3ta

[Version française]

Second Wave

As you were able to read in our previous statement, negotiations with management are at a standstill.
We do not think we will gain any additional ground with this strike, despite the fact our grievances are simply about conforming to labour laws and collective labour agreements.

Thus, we have stopped striking Tuesday, April 3rd, after more than a month a half, to conserve our resources for the future. But this clinical observation does not stop at all our determination: even if the strike is over, the struggle isn’t. We will continue to fight for our rights with the legal means at our disposal. Therefore, approximately fifteen Eugen Systems employees and ex-employees have seized the prud’hommes (French labour tribunal). We do not forget also that this movement for a betterment of everyone’s working conditions was shouldered by a collective of 24 employees out of 44 employed at the company.

It is thanks to the support we received that we were able to hold out for more than a month and a half, be it encouraging messages or donations from all of you.
The public interest (media, politicians, players…) for this novel social movement reinforces us in the idea that it was not in vain, and that we were right to fight for our rights. We want this industry to mature, to recognize the value of our work and of our skills.

And we will continue to do so, whatever the intimidation attempts.
 

Eugen Systems strike workers


About the strike fund, we have decided to leave it open to donations for a while still for those that still want to pitch in. We will close it in a few days.
We will then proceed with a similar distribution than the one we discussed in a previous statement.

6 weeks of struggle at Eugen Systems

We are once again relaying a communiqué written by our fellow strikers from the Parisian studio Eugen Systems. You can support them through their strike fund, all participations are welcome : https://www.lepotcommun.fr/pot/kfy5g3ta

[Version française]

Escalation

After 6 weeks on strike and an obvious lack of will to change the situation, Eugen Systems’s management finally show their true colours and aren’t trying to hide the fact they have no intention negotiating anymore.
Our last meeting of Friday, March 23rd lasted only a quarter of an hour. And for good reason, confronted with systematic rejection from management, we asked whether they would accept to negotiate anything. Their answer was brief and precise: no.

The previous meeting happened on the 21st of March. Management had unilaterally written an end of strike agreement draft, with all our demands either ignored or denied and stating that the strike was useless because the discussion had always been open. Quite bold of them after having ignored the strikers for two weeks and most of the observations brought to them by the personnel’s representatives for more than a year.

In this draft, management puts forward the efforts they agree to make that would justify the end of the strike. These promises are mainly legal obligations that should have been fulfilled without us asking for them.

  • Bring us proof that occupational medicine will be paid correctly next year. Contributing to occupational medicine is a legal obligation, we should not need such a promise to be sure it is done.
  • Install a break room at each floor of the premises to have room for enough people. This is once more a legal obligation and hadn’t even been mentioned in the context of the strike.
  • A promise of a future company agreement on job classifications. A discussion on that point was already planned. Furthermore, before discussing new classifications maybe it would be better to start by respecting those which are due to us?
  • Detail the calculations for the few wages that were caught up and for the holiday bonuses over a span of 3 years. This is the length of the legal prescription a tribunal would impose, with compensation. Knowing that the bonuses have never been paid, what about the previous years?
  • Counting the hours of negotiation as hours worked for the 4 members of the workers’ delegation. This is, once more, a legal obligation.

The strike began because of non-compliance with the law, management trying to pass its partial application as a charitable gesture on their part does not deceive us.

All our proposals have been denied, even those that did not create additional cost for the employer.
For example, they refused spreading the docking of wages from days on strike over several months, a standard compromise that would leave us with enough to live each month.
To justify this refusal, we were told that it was not a question of money.

Furthermore, after we insisted, management signed a written agreement the 5th of March to pay the mandatory contribution to occupational medicine and to bring us proof of payment as soon as it was done. The payment is dated the 12th of March, and management deigned to bring us proof only on the meeting of the 21st, so 9 days after the payment. Management seems to have a few difficulties respecting signed agreements.

Since neither negotiation nor strike seems to be affecting our employers and that compliance with the law seems to be an exaggerated demand from their point of view, we consider that it is time to harden our methods.
About fifteen previous and current employees of Eugen Systems have initiated a procedure with the prud’hommes (labour tribunal of justice). However, this only concerns previous litigations and will not help solve the background problems about working conditions and consideration for the work provided.

These 6 weeks of strike have not been entirely unsuccessful, however: we were able to consult each other, link up with organizations and people. Our situation is not unique, and many other companies take advantage of their employees’ passion to put in place working conditions that are illegal.
We invite every person, group and association that see in our struggle a just fight to help us, however the means: mediatically by sharing the articles talking about our situation, financially via the strike fund, morally with your messages of support and by testifying to the legitimacy of this struggle on social networks, with your advice, support, etc. Any help you can bring is more than welcome.

About the strike fund

We have done a first repartition of the strike fund after a month on strike (mid-March). At that moment, the amount in the strike fund was of 8070€ from 182 contributors, and 550€ of direct donations. For complete transparency here is our method of distribution:

  • Integral compensation of the strike’s cost to people that couldn’t do without. These people were able to bring active support to our movement for a while despite their financial difficulties entirely thanks to you.
  • Counting number of days everyone was on strike, coming to a total of 292 days.
  • Every non-reimbursed striker was able to indicate how much of their share they wished to receive. This let people leave a part of their compensation for others, on a purely voluntary basis, everyone receiving all of their compensation as default. There was a total of 261 shares.
  • Individual compensation equivalent to the number of shares multiplied by the value of a share. This comes to, for someone having been on strike the whole month and who didn’t redistribute their shares a sum of approximately 630€.

Thank you all for your messages of support and your donations. They help us to hold on and remind us that our cause is just, our action necessary.

Eugen Systems strike workers

Already more than 3 weeks on strike at Eugen Systems

We are once again relaying a communiqué written by our fellow strikers from the Parisian studio Eugen Systems. You can support them through their strike fund, all participations are welcome : https://www.lepotcommun.fr/pot/kfy5g3ta

[Version française]

 

Weeks of Conflict

We started our strike on February 14, more than 3 weeks ago. 16 months of contestation already.

On Wednesday February 28, after two weeks on strike, the management finally addressed us directly, offering to meet with a strike delegation to discuss.
We made ourselves available the next morning, yet we had to wait until Monday March 5 for the first meeting with management to take place, as the management refused to accept proposals of earlier dates. Once again, we can only note the lack of consideration for the urgency of the situation.

Our delegation therefore met with management on Monday morning, March 5, in the presence of the Labour Inspector as mediator.
We start the meeting by mentioning that our employer did not contribute to occupational medecine for 2018, which is mandatory according to French labour laws.
What is described as an oversight due to an unreceived invoice is extremely problematic: some of our colleagues are in the middle of burnouts and depressions, and the non-payment of these contributions prevents, for example, occupational medicine from planning preventive medical check-ups for other employees. Management assures us that it has requested to receive the invoice again, and is committed to paying it as soon as possible. At the time of writing this on March 9, it is still not the case.

As far as our complaints and demands are concerned, the management’s answer is simple: no. The current and past irregularities are still denied by management, and none of the proposals we have made are even considered an instant.
Management has indicated on numerous occasions that it considers certain contracts to be old or incorrect and therefore would not have to comply with them. For example, it considers that creative professions (game designers, graphic designers, level builders, etc.) do not need training and that these employees would be overqualified by their specialized training, often at the Master’s degree level.
The meeting was reconvened the next morning, so that management could take the time to prepare a proposed classification grid for the company’s positions.

On Tuesday 6, we received this proposal as a draft, incomplete – only programming jobs are mentioned – and filled with errors. We consider that this proposal from management is not serious, but even worse, it contains elements that are far less interesting for the employees than what is currently practised in the company. Funny way to negotiate.
Since it is only in draft form, we do not publish details, but express our mistrust of it. The fact that the grid only concerns certain trades and that it is still in the draft stage suggests that management is still trying to gain some time.

On several occasions during these meetings, we have been accused of spreading lies through our communiqués and not controlling the publications of journalists and users of social networks: management seems to ignore that we do not control public opinion, even though they refuse the right of reply journalists offered them.
We asked for specific references of what they disputed in our communiqués, but received no concrete response.

Since then, we have not had any other proposal for a meeting, and the management refused ours on Friday March 9, without even bothering to explain the reasons.

We are still waiting for management to recognize the seriousness of the issues raised and to demonstrate its willingness to resolve the conflict. It is unthinkable to continue denying irregularities and at the same time try to further reduce our working conditions.

Thank you again for the messages of support and donations that help us so much!

 

Eugen Systems strike workers

Eugen Systems strike workers are holding on

We are once again relaying a communiqué written by our fellow strikers from the Parisian studio Eugen Systems. You can support them through their strike fund, all participations are welcome : https://www.lepotcommun.fr/pot/kfy5g3ta

They confirmed their strike continues on Thursday 22 February.

[Version française]

Still Division

We have been on strike for a week now.

Every day we receive messages of support from players and people working in the industry, from France and abroad. They remind us that the problems we are currently concerned with are not restricted to our company but are much more common, even if the symptoms may differ. We are very moved by these messages that give meaning to the struggle we are forced to wage today. Nor do we forget the people who are currently experiencing similar situations in other industries or in the public sector.

Our demands are about the application of law, especially concerning our salaries. But the problems we face seem to be rooted in a deeper phenomenon: a lack of appreciation for the work we do every day. All of us would seemingly be perfectly replaceable tools. Our know-how, experience, qualities and qualifications are obviously parameters that shouldn’t be taken into account.

Yet who designs games, creates them, enriches them with content, and ensures they function properly?

At this time, we have yet to receive any kind of response or proposal from the management of Eugen Systems.
We regret that they continue to bury their faces in the sand after fifteen months of desperate attempts to draw attention to the seriousness of the problems we face and the need to find a solution that also takes into account the interests of employees, not just those of management. When these solutions involve an unilateral reduction in wages, a second-guessing of the grades and qualifications of employees, or the negation of essential elements of their employment contracts, they are obviously unacceptable.

As we told our studio management earlier this week, we are not taking any pleasure in the fire that occurred in the building housing the company’s premises, which brought production to a halt. Our strike carries on nonetheless and we are still waiting for our demands to be met, which, let us not forget, are nothing extraordinary: the fair appreciation of our work and the consideration of our legal and contractual rights.

 

Eugen Systems strike workers

Eugen Systems employees on strike

We relay a statement from our colleagues on strike at Eugen Systems, the studio from Paris.

EDIT : a strike fund has been setup, all participations are welcome: https://www.lepotcommun.fr/pot/kfy5g3ta

Act of Strike

On this February 14 th 2018, we, 21 employees of Eugen Systems, decided to go on strike. On this date we might be tempted to say that we preferred to flatter the loved one instead of going to our workplace as it should be. This is not the case, even if we are animated by a certain passion, it is actually tinged with fury.

We have been discussing serious violations of our rights with management for almost 15 months now. Like anyone else in our place, we assumed that dialogue and reason would be more effective than direct confrontation. After all, an employer should be able to understand that the law is what it is, and that it is legitimate for its employees to demand that it be enforced, including for their benefit. Faced with the wall that was set up against us during the first six months of negotiations, we were forced to call in a lawyer to remind our employer of the law. To remind that minimum wages are not subject to negotiation and that neither are our qualifications, our employment contracts, or the law. These demands are far from unacceptable. For every answer we were given promises, “everything will be settled” we were told. Naive as we are, we believed it.

Even more naively, we continued to believe in it for many more months, but on the morning of February the 14th we came to realise an obvious fact that no longer escaped anybody: enough is enough.

When we arrived at the office, each of us discovered several e-mails on our professional mailboxes: first of all a collective e-mail indicating that our overtime, which had not been paid up until then, a contentious subject since the beginning, was absent from our pay slips only because of the fault of our two successive payroll managers. In short, what we considered as an infringement of our rights is now presented to us as an administrative error. As a result, our gross salaries have been reduced so that our overtime can be justified without even regularizing our situations by a penny. Even though these new gross salaries are considered to be below the legal minimums for several employees.

Additionnally, several employees were notified in another e-mail that the conditions specifically mentioned in their employment contract, as well as in the collective agreement, were not recognized as legitimate by management. The latter justifiying not granting them the grades, salaries and associated benefits. What a joy, for example, for a developer with several years of experience and an engineer’s job, to arrive one morning and see that he now has the status and rank of a technician, with the lowered salary accompanying it.

This new evasive maneuver from management has inflamed the situation: in the face of the refusal to pay us as required by law, and the manifest lack of consideration for the value of our work, we have come to the conclusion that, in order to make ourselves heard, we have no option but to go on strike.

We did not want the conflict, and we were even prepared to accept a number of compromises. But in the face of such a lack of respect, all that remains is to make use of our most fundamental rights, which, if we fail to resolve all the problems we are confronted with, will hopefully have the merit ofdrawing the attention of players, public opinion or elected representatives to the catastrophic situation in the industry for which we are working.

 

The striking employees of Eugen Systems, who if it needs to be reminded are not NPCs