Last week, a Bloomberg report broke the news that Activision Blizzard planned to wind down its operations in France. This included the closure of its Versaille office, potentially laying off 285 employees. For those employees, this would be a devastating blow as the world is still reeling from the devastating economic blow from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But now, French labor unions are calling on Blizzard employees to fight back. A call to strike was released earlier today from the CGT, SPECIS-UNSA, and CFE-CGC, three French labor organizations that are trying to fight for the rights of Blizzard workers.
“As you know, after repeatedly denying closing plans before both the employees and the French administration, the management just announced their will to execute a clearly long thought plan to stop all activities in France cutting 285 jobs,” reads the open letter to strike. “This comes as a shock for employees who were not expecting that announcement.”
World of Warcraft YouTubers Taliesin and Evitel posted the open letter on Twitter earlier today in order to show solidarity with the French workers that will soon be out of a job. The letter notes that some of these employees have 30 years of seniority and will certainly have great difficulty finding a new job after Versaille office closure.
“In these times of COVID crisis, it is inconceivable to send 285 people on an employment market in turmoil,” the letter adds.
The Versaille office closure comes a year after Blizzard already cut its overall workforce by 800 employees–a reduction of 8%. Those that remained noted that their job requirements increased without a commensurate increase in pay, and a recent survey found that half of Blizzard employees don’t think they’re getting paid enough in their current roles.
Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick remains one of the most overpaid executives in gaming.
There seems to be little doubt that winding down their French operations is merely to avoid paying French taxes and complying with French labor laws, as noted in the call to strike action. The French unions point to a move to London as “a more probable explanation” for the Versaille office closure.
It remains to be seen if Blizzard employees will walk off the job, but as most of them are working from home anyway, it might not be obvious if strike action even takes place.
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