The French trade union Solidaires Informatique has called on Ubisoft Paris workers to strike after the company gave them a “worrying” strategic update.
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The company said in a statement last week that it was facing “major challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles”. Consequently, it delayed the release of the long-awaited Skull & Bones by another year yet again and also cancelled three unannounced games. It plans to strengthen its focus on its biggest brands and live services following a poorer than expected performance over Christmas.
It also announced plans to cut costs of around €200million over the next two years “through targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets and usual natural attrition”.
Since the announcement, the value of company stocks have fallen by 19 per cent, according to the Financial Times.
Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillermot then emailed staff, putting the onus on them to help reverse the company’s fortunes. “Today more than ever, I need your full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success,” he wrote. “I am also asking that each of you be especially careful and strategic with your spending and initiatives, to ensure we’re being as efficient and lean as possible.
“The ball is in your court to deliver this line-up on time and at the expected level of quality, and show everyone what we are capable of achieving.”
Now, in response to these events, the Ubisoft Paris wing of tech-focused union Solidaires Informatiques called on workers to stage a half-day strike on Friday January 27 from 2-6pm.
“According to Guillemot: the ball is in our court (but the money stays in his pocket),” it said in a statement. “In his latest statement, Mr. Guillemot announces a worrying future for Ubisoft.
“If the request to employees to be ‘especially careful and strategic with your spending’ is ironic considering the company’s editorial strategy of the last few years, it is not funny.
“When Mr. Guillemot speaks of ‘attrition’ and ‘organizational adjustments’, it means: staff reductions, discreet studio closures, salary cuts, disguised layoffs, etc.
“On several occasions, Mr. Guillemot is trying to shift the blame (once again) onto the employees; he expects us to be mobilized, to ‘give it our all’, to be ‘as efficient and lean as possible’. These words mean something: overtime, managerial pressure, burnout, etc.
“Mr. Guillemot asks a lot from his employees, but without any compensation.”
Solidaires Informatique also issued a list of four demands to Ubisoft – an immediate 10 per cent pay rise “to compensate for inflation” and improved working conditions, including the introduction of a four-day week.
The union is also calling for “transparency on the evolution of the workforce, both locally and globally”, and “a strong commitment against disguised dismissals and a condemnation of abusive managerial policies that push employees to resign”.
Ubisoft was also recently on the receiving end of criticism from Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 players because it has launched on Steam without achievements.