Eugen Systems strike is over but the fight continues

Employees at Eugen Systems, the French studio behind strategy games including R.U.S.E. and Steel Division: Normandy 44, have ended their strike after seven weeks. After more than a year of disputes with management over alleged problems including unpaid contributions and ignoring conditions of contracts, half of the studio went on strike in February. But negotiations have stalled and the strikers don’t think continuing will change much, so they’re ending the strike and taking the fight to a labour tribunal.

“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,” Eugen said in Tuesday’s statement:

“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.”

Eugen employees had raised allegations including non-payment of medical contributions, non-payment of overtime, and contract conditions going ignored, leading to demotions and paycuts for some. After 15 months of fruitless discussions with management, a number of employees went on strike – after which they say management didn’t even talk directly to them for two weeks.

The strikers thanked people for their support–personal, political, and financial–over the course of the strike. They’re still collecting donations for the strike, which will split between themselves, but will wrap that up soon.

“We want this industry to mature, to recognize the value of our work and of our skills,” they concluded. “And we will continue to do so, whatever the intimidation attempts.”

The prospect of unionisation has gained a lot more attention in the video games industry following a GDC roundtable discussion, as Adam explored. That had became a focal point of pro-union developers, who feared the International Game Developers Association moderator would set an anti-union tone. They formed the Game Workers Unite organisation to spread the word and support people planning to unionise. The industry at large has serious problems, luring people in with ‘dream jobs’ then burning them out with ridiculous hours and other abuses, and evidently won’t fix itself.

13 Comments

  1. SuicideKing says:

    I hope they win at the tribunal. Shitty companies, want the work and all money too.

    Bought SD’44 before the strike, liked it a lot, but definitely not buying anymore stuff from Eugen until this matter gets resolved and they pay their workers fairly.

  2. Jarhead0331 says:

    There used to be two sides to every story and people used to think twice before treating allegations as gospel or fact. Those days are long gone. Anyway, do you think not buying Eugen products will be good for their employees’ job security? Talk about cutting off a nose to spite the face.

    • Kushiel says:

      “There used to be two sides to every story and people used to think twice before treating allegations as gospel or fact. Those days are long gone.”

      Please tell us the specific end date of this prelapsarian era.

    • fearandloathing says:

      Doubt that applies to labor struggles, really. There were two sides to 8 hour work-day (before that, for 10, 12, 14 hours), job safety, child workers etc, but one side was exploitative ***lords only interested in short-term profits. There had been few cases when unions became luddites or put out artificial barriers that harmed the general public*, but we are a long way away from that after decades of attacks on unions. And considering the growth generated by increased financialization(read market speculation really) and the diminished worker rights’ was illusory in that almost everywhere more than 50% of the gains were harvested by the top 5% (74% in the US iirc was the exact number) we can say that the good they did was much more than the harm. Have I digressed into uncalled and almost irrelevant post on political economy? I’m polsci graduate dude, sure I did.

      *anti-uber taxis may be proposes as a recent example, but their working conditions is widely different than other workers, including the white-collars, as they try to protect their monopoly with fairly artificial licenses, like rentiers.

      tl,dr: unionize

    • Landiss says:

      Yes, the good old days of arguing whether to ban forcing children to work in the mines or not. It was so great to hear both sides and see that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

      Or wait, maybe it is not always somewhere in the middle, hmmm…

      • Jarhead0331 says:

        What is it with you guys and hyperbole? Was anyone at Eugen forcing children to work in mines? The moral equivalency is shocking.

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          Mikemcn says:

          I think he’s pointing out that historically the employer always gets the benefit of the doubt and that people upset at the workers here might be making the same mistake.

          Also the moral equivalency is that it’s always bad to mistreat workers, regardless of age.

        • g948ng says:

          I think he implies that it is very difficult to imagine what the narrative on the “other side” you mentioned, but never cared to elaborate on, could be.

          The sources I saw so far stated the employees
          a) tried to negotiate before they striked. For months.
          b) finished a major DLC before they striked, so not to be accused of blackmail.
          c) do not demand a pay raise, but what´s in their contracts.

          If you actually have any information we lack and which paints the situation in a completely different light where the employer is the victim, I, for one, would like to hear it.

          • Cederic says:

            I don’t need to imagine. I look forward to a tribunal exploring the issues with all of the concerned parties and determining the legality of the situation in an objective manner.

            Unlike random posters on the internet.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Well it’s not like the devs are seeing the money anyway…

  3. Landiss says:

    The next time they need to strike 4 weeks prior to the release, not after it. Should work miracles.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Mikemcn says:

    I wish them luck, they make some amazing games, i’m sure their talent could be put to good use elsewhere if Eugen doesn’t improve it’s treatment of workers. But changing jobs is hard especially if you have dependents/financial demands.

    • fearandloathing says:

      Well I can easily think one rising and expanding company that Eugen staff would fit naturally: Paradox! They are publishing the game anyways (at first I even thought they also developed it), and I’ve never heard anything but praises about PDX’ treatment of workers. Doubt they would be willing to buy the rights to the title, but it’s a generic WW2 setting anyway and I don’t think Eugen could claim IP protection on game’s mechanics, otherwise we wouldn’t have so many clones.

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