Lockwood workers take action against unlawful redundancy

Dozens of workers at Lockwood Publishing are taking collective action to defend themselves against an unlawful massive redundancy, and help build a better workplace for them and their colleagues.

After weeks of negotiations, meetings, and attempting to work with the upper management and all of the demands and stipulations that have been made, they have found themselves at a tipping point where said management refuses to engage with the workers seriously. As such, the workers have made the decision to go public with what has been happening at the studio, the issues they’ve faced, and the impact that it has had on the workers.

You can find the press release below. Please show the workers at Lockwood your support and solidarity by sharing what’s happening where you can, and speaking out against the execs at the company with their attempts to avoid their legal responsibilities and who continue to ignore their employees.

In solidarity,

IWGB Game Workers

Lockwood Publishing Game Workers Face Unlawful Redundancy in Lead Up to Christmas 

  • Mobile games developer Lockwood Publishing has been conducting an unlawful redundancy process, repeatedly flouting employment law.
  • Lockwood workers are calling on management to save jobs and recognise their union in the latest wave of worker action in the gameworker industry, following upheavals at Ubisoft and the Activision Blizzard walkout.
  • Lockwood Publishing produced the mobile game Avakin Life, which has over 200 million registered users and secured a $25 million investment in 2020.

Friday 3 December: with game workers facing the prospect of unlawful redundancy by Christmas, employees with the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are demanding Lockwood Publishing to abide by employment law, recognise their union and initiate a fair process. This is the latest wave of worker action in the gameworker industry, following recent upheavals at Ubisoft and the Activision Blizzard walkout.

When placing this number of employees at risk of redundancy, a corporation is obligated by law to conduct collective consultations as laid out in the legislation, which Lockwood has failed to do, disregarding the basic rights of its employees. Lockwood has also failed to provide workers with a full explanation as to why their roles are at risk and poor communication and mismanagement have left workers uncertain about their futures and severely impacted their mental health.

Sweeping redundancies across the organisation were announced in October, with 33 out of a workforce of 200 placed at risk in a chaotic stop-start process. Employees formed a workplace Lockwood Union as part of the IWGB Game Workers’ Branch, successfully delaying the process and reducing the number of employees at risk. However, senior management continue to act unlawfully, dismiss calls for a fair process and railroad redundancies before Christmas while refusing to disclose how many workers now stand to lose their jobs.

The corporation secured a $25 million investment in 2020 after producing the mobile game Avakin Life, which has over 200 million registered users. That year, CEO Halli Bjornsson was paid over £360,000.

One Lockwood employee, anonymised for fear of reprisals, said: “One day without any previous notice, HR called us into an agendaless meeting. We were told we were at risk of redundancy but not given any real explanation as to why. Some people had their work accounts deactivated within minutes and were told they couldn’t say goodbye to their co-workers.”

The Lockwood Union organising committee, part of the IWGB Game Workers’ Branch, says: “We are asking management at Lockwood Publishing to halt this unlawful and illegitimate process of redundancies and avoid costly legal and reputational damage in the process. No one should be sacked at Christmas, especially when there are clear alternatives available. Ultimately, we all want the same thing: we want a flourishing organisation that we are proud to work for. To do that, senior management at Lockwood have to start listening to their workers.”

A statement from Kevin Agwaze, chair of the IWGB Gameworkers Branch: “We have been supporting our members at Lockwood as they have fought against the cruel and short-sighted decisions of their employer to sack their colleagues in a process deemed illegitimate and unlawful. Senior management complaining about financial difficulties – whilst paying themselves huge salaries – is not a good look. Gameworkers are realising that they have rights as workers and are coming together to organise through their union. This isn’t the wild west. Like workers at Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, our members are taking action. We won’t take these redundancies lying down.”

For more information, contact

James Vail

+44 7883 887613 / press@iwgb.co.uk

The Organising @ Work Game “Jam”

We’re happy to announce that we’ve joined forces with Notes from Below to organise a game “jam” on itch.io! Why quote jam unquote? Considering the work we’ve been doing, we don’t want to encourage exploitative working practices so we’re organising a 4-week long game jam, starting 18th May 2019.

The theme: “organising at work.” We want entries that take a creative angle on what “organising at work” means today. This could be about trade unions, building networks, or talking to colleagues at work. Whether you’ve been following the story of game workers unionising or this is all brand new to you, we would love to see your contributions!

Submissions can be prototypes, working versions, ideas for a game, drafts and sketches, or other forms. What we are interested in is thinking about how short games can help inform or motivate organising at work. Although we’re hosting the jam on itch.io, we are accepting submissions through other methods. Please contact us to find out more.

The jam will finish on 17th June 2019, though this timetable is a suggestion. We don’t want a deadline to stop you from submitting your work so do contact us if you have something to contribute once this date has passed.

You can pre-register interest on this sign-up form and join the GWU discord channel. We encourage participants to support each other and share ideas and skills. We’ll also be using our community page to help support the jam outside of our discord channel.

We will host a launch event for the jam in London on Saturday 18th May, with the Marx at the Arcade Book launch. Come along and learn more about the unionisation effort from passionate game workers. There will also be a celebration event at the end of the “jam” (details TBC – follow us on Twitter as well as on this website of ours for updates as well as following the hashtag #WorkersGameJam ).

We aim to compile entries into a special issue of Notes from Below, along with accompanying pieces and interviews. Do get in touch if you want to contribute as well!