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

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: https://www.gwu-uk.org/join/). 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: https://forms.gle/TYUcrKJftL41hu4U7 

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