Following the news that Blizzard will be shutting down its Versailles office, and taking hundreds of jobs with it, three unions representing Blizzard employees in France have called for a strike. In their joint statement, the unions CGT, SPECIS-UNSA, and CFE-CGC allege that despite denying their intent to close in front of both employees and the French government, Blizzard had planned to cut these 285 jobs well in advance, despite the instability the global job market is facing thanks to the pandemic.
“This comes as a shock for employees who were not expecting that announcement. In 15 years, many of us left their homes from across Europe and beyond to join the company, people truly invested their whole lives into Blizzard success.”
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Last year, Blizzard slashed over two hundred jobs in their US offices, mostly in the IT and Marketing departments, as the industry watched in horror. According to the union statement, the company also tried to cut 133 jobs in France, and others in March, but was stopped by the court on both accounts. These actions lead the unions to believe that Blizzard is pursuing these layoffs not in response to the pandemic, but to avoid European tax laws. Now, the unions are calling for members to strike until Blizzard meets demands to cancel the closure, further develop its European office, and invests in the prevention of pyschosocial risks to employees.
This news comes on the heels of yet another crunch scandal in the industry, demonstrating beautifully that crunch is not the only labor issue devs face in our field. Thankfully, labor laws in Europe are more comprehensive than in the US, so the employees here are probably on slightly firmer ground than their American counterparts were. But it’s still key that we are staying engaged and supporting workers rights how we can. Several fans have already indicated that they’ll be skipping the newly released World of Warcraft: Shadowlands pre-patch in solidarity with striking workers. Considering Overwatch’s Halloween event has just started, players across Blizzard’s fanbase should consider doing the same.