Three unions that represent Blizzard employees in France called for a strike yesterday, following Activision Blizzard's decision to shut their office near Versailles. It's a move that potentially puts hundreds of jobs at risk. The unions claim the company "repeatedly denied" the closure plans, but suspect they've actually been planning it for a while.
"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," they said. "This comes as a shock for employees who were not expecting that announcement."
The statement, made by unions CGT, SPECIS-UNSA and CFE-CGC, said it's "inconceivable" to send 285 people out into the job market in the middle of a global pandemic. Last year, they claimed management already tried to cut 133 jobs in France, but the plan was stopped in court. Then in March of this year, they allegedly made another attempt to cut jobs, but were again unsuccessful. Following this, they claimed the company "willingly deteriorated work conditions to a point where psychosocial risks raised dangerously".
They went on to question Activision Blizzard's reasons behind the planned closure, saying that pandemic cutbacks are "absurd".
"The video game industry has suffered less than many others from the Covid crisis, and even benefitted from the confinement times that increased their overall earnings."
The unions claimed "a more probable explanation" for the closure is that ActiBlizz want to "avoid European tax rules by creating an ABK hub away from Europe in London".
Considering all this, they've demanded that the company cancel the closure, develop the European offices, and invest in psychosocial risk prevention.
Players have been using the #KeepVersaillesOpen tag on Twitter to show their support for the strikes, with many rallying in World Of Warcraft to protest.
— ℜuthless (@RuthSaurfang) October 14, 2020
No al cierre de la sede central europea de Blizzard en Francia @Warcraft_ES @Warcraft_DE @Warcraft_FR
Igual no vale de nada, pero ahí va mi pequeño grano de arena#KeepVersaillesOpen pic.twitter.com/lcKRRZWbQV
— Draknian (@draknian) October 14, 2020
— Shamachi (@ShamachiTV) October 14, 2020
They've also received support from other big French tech unions, Solidaires Informatique and STJV, who "maintain their categorical opposition to any layoff, whatever the motive."
"We stand in solidarity with the workers at Blizzard France and extend out full support toward any action they will take against these wrongful layoffs."