For the first time ever, video game workers in the U.K. are getting the chance to unionize with the help of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
“The game workers’ decision to unionize with the IWGB should be a wake-up call for the UK’s gaming industry,” IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said in a press release.
As one of the fastest growing industries in the U.K., video games are taking a toll on employees who work long hours with unpaid overtime, commonly referred to as “crunching.”
Workers have been reported to work as much as 100 hours a week in an effort to meet demand and deadlines for projects.
The union is also targeting zero-hours contracts, which do not guarantee employees a minimum amount of hours to work each week. These use-as-needed contracts can negatively impact workers’ pay and are often used among quality assurance testers.
“For as long as I can remember it has been considered normal for games workers to endure zero-hours contracts, excessive unpaid overtime, and even sexism and homophobia as the necessary price to pay for the privilege of working in the industry,” game worker and founding member of the IWGB’s Games Workers Unite branch Dec Peach said in a press release. “We will have the tools to fix this broken sector and create an ethical industry where it’s not only big game companies that thrive, but workers as well.”
The Games Workers Unite branch plans to address the industry’s lack of diversity and inclusion, while also highlighting sexism and homophobia.
The video game branch of the IWGB will include contract, direct employees and agency, and casual workers. The organization is excluding employees with hiring and firing powers from the union.