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 /

GWU UK statement on abuse and sexual harassment

Recently we have witnessed many people bringing forward their testimonies of abuse and sexual harassment at the hands of powerful and influential people in the games industry. It takes great courage to speak out in this way and we hear and believe all accounts. GWU UK will always stand with victims and survivors who have experienced abuse and are experiencing trauma, whether they feel able to go public, take legal action or stay anonymous and not divulge information.

We are committed to making this industry a safer, more humane, and inclusive place to work. Everyone should be able to thrive free from exploitation, harassment and abuse and feel liberated to express themselves however they desire. 

All GWU UK members have access to IWGB’s legal team for advice and defence for any incidents that occur while they are union members. (If you would like to become a member of GWU UK, you can do so here: We are currently exploring ways that we can support non-members and people whose experiences predate their membership (watch this space!). We will never pressure anyone to go public or take legal or HR actions for their specific case. 

It’s clear that these problems are widespread across the global games industry, and the UK is no exception. We have set up a survey that can be answered anonymously to collect accounts of sexual harassment, coercion, and violence while in the games industry. We’re not here to question or judge, only to support you if you wish. Do not feel like any experience is too small or insignificant. The results of this survey will help us to understand the scale of the problem, identify vulnerable situations, and work towards creating a strategy to counter it. We can also reach out to individuals, if they wish, and work with them to see what redress might look like and how education can be used to shape the future game industry we want to work in.

Please fill out the survey here: 

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! 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, 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!

Riot Walkout – Statement of Solidarity

Game Workers Unite UK stands in solidarity with all Riot Games workers, walking out to protest sexual harassment, and the insistence by Riot management to resolve these issues via forced arbitration.

Forced arbitration does not benefit workers and lifting it only for new hires, only on sexual harassment/assault, and only after the current cases have been arbitrated, while still blocking class action lawsuits is not enough!
Injustice has already been done, lawsuits have already been blocked, lives have already been affected.

Riot needs to change, and the way to achieve that is by worker solidarity. Platitudes, token efforts, and future commitments are not enough; direct action is required!
This walkout shows that Riot workers are not just ready to speak up; they are willing to take a stand on what’s right.

To all Riot Games employees, we say this: Stand firm, stand united, and fight for what you believe in.
A better Riot Games, a better industry, is within our grasp. ✊?✊?✊

– Game Workers Unite UK, a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

Why We Are Unionising the UK Games Industry

By Austin Kelmore, GWU UK Secretary

It’s been less than a year since Game Workers Unite was founded at the Game Developers Conference and it’s amazing how much has changed in that small amount of time. As of December 14th of last year, there’s a full, legal game workers union in the United Kingdom as a branch of the Independent Workers of Great Britain. If you had asked me at the beginning of this year whether I thought we’d have a union, I would have laughed at the absurdity of it, yet here we are.

I started helping GWU UK last August and I’ve had quite a number of conversations since then about why I would spend all my spare time building a union. Why not try to fix things at the companies internally? Why not create an advocacy group? Why didn’t we join forces with some of the other organisations out there instead? Why did we create a union? I thought I’d take some time to write out my personal thoughts on why I helped form GWU UK and continue on as Secretary.

Trying To Create Change

I can’t speak for everyone in Game Workers Unite, but I never wanted to create a union. Do you know how much time and energy it’s taken to get here? I’m not getting paid for this. Quite the opposite, in fact – I’ve worked countless nights and weekends to help this union become a reality. If there were an easier way of fixing the systemic issues we face in the games industry, I would happily do that instead. I’ve tried so, so many other things first.

I’ve been in the industry for over 11 years and during that time, it’s not been hard to find areas to improve. At first, I tried complaining to my peers and boss. Sometimes I was able to change things for myself, but I was rarely able to affect change for more than a handful of people. So then I participated in small internal group efforts thinking that would be better because it’d be more than one person trying to change things. This was slightly more successful for the group, but then I noticed our efforts rarely affected the whole company.

So next I switched to company-wide efforts thinking I needed everyone on board in order to really change some of the issues. I ran a multi-month 100+ person, whole site retrospective that included everyone from top to bottom. We figured out a lot of the issues and agreed to a set of changes that needed to be made. When it was time to schedule and do the work that we had all agreed upon, our plan was almost completely ignored by the people in power because deadlines always took precedence. I was crushed. When another group asked me to help with another similar initiative, I declined. I wasn’t willing to invest another three months of emotional energy for nothing again.

I turned to organisations outside of my job that could possibly help bring change. I volunteered for advocacy orgs and was able to help individuals, but didn’t make a dent on the industry wide problems we have. I talked to CEOs and got a lot of “I totally support all those things you talk about”, but when asked to actually do the work, they were somehow always busy this month with next month looking better. Then when the next month rolled around, they repeated the same thing.

I tried everything I could think of to help fix the systemic issues of crunch, poor diversity and inclusion, and low pay. That is, until Game Workers Unite came along.

Change the Incentives

The core reason that I was never able to help permanently change the industry is that I was never able to change the incentives that companies and people in power have to treat their employees the way they do. The reason the CEOs I talked to would tell me they agree with my goals, but didn’t have time to help is because helping didn’t align with what they really cared about – money, their free time, and following the law (usually in that order). For most CEOs, improving the lives of their employees, helping create a diverse and inclusive games industry, and eliminating crunch are waaaaaay down the list of things they really care about even if they give lip service to those topics.

So how can unions help change the incentives of companies and people in power? Through collective action we can push on those three levers and make the people in power feel uncomfortable enough to want to change. Unions can defend your legal rights, they can negotiate as a group for fair pay, and they can push back against excessive overtime and other harmful development practices through collective action.

Remember, if people in power say they want change, but haven’t used their power to make it happen – they don’t actually want it. Caring about something is about using the power you have to create change, not just saying pretty words. If you never use your power to improve a situation, you don’t actually care, you just say you do.

The Power of Organising

Excessive overtime is still a thing. We still have a serious lack of diversity in our industry. The pay is significantly less compared to other tech industries even though we do similar work and the companies we work for make billions of pounds. These things have all been consistent in the 11 years I’ve been a professional in the games industry. The people in power haven’t changed their behaviour when asked nicely, so it’s time to try something new.

Part of the reason why I haven’t been successful with bringing meaningful change in many of my previous endeavours was because I was never a part of a critical mass of people. Most of the ways I’ve tried were either by myself or with a handful of other people grouped together around a small goal. With Game Workers Unite UK, we have a real chance to stand up together and demand big changes for how we work.

It’s not going to be easy, and it will take a lot of work and effort on our part, but we’ll be doing it together. We’ll be improving the industry for those who are here right now and for those who come after us forevermore. We can do it, we just have to do the work. Come join us at Game Workers Unite UK and help us make a better games industry.

Game Workers of the UK: Unite!

It’s official: today we announce the formation of the UK’s first and only only union dedicated to representing workers in the video game industry!

The Game Workers Unite UK branch of the IWGB is an autonomous, worker-led, democratic trade union that represents and advocates for UK game workers’ rights.

We seek to increase the quality of life for all game workers by campaigning to:

  • End the institutionalised practice of excessive/unpaid overtime
  • Improve Diversity and Inclusion at all levels
  • Inform workers of their rights and support those who are abused, harassed, or need representation
  • Secure a steady and fair wage for all

We are an affiliate of the global Game Workers Unite movement, which is dedicated to advocating for workers’ rights and crafting a unionised game industry.

Want to get involved? Head over the join page to become a member of the union, help support what we do, or just keep in touch and learn more.

Be sure to also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates over the exciting months ahead! ✊?✊?✊