The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is launching the first ever branch for workers in the UK’s video games industry, in an attempt to tackle the wide-scale exploitation now common in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK economy.
The creation of the Games Workers Unite branch will not only make the IWGB the first union in the UK to represent games workers, but one of the first anywhere in the world.
Among other issues, the branch will look to tackle:
- The use of excessive, often unpaid overtime, commonly referred to as “crunch”, where some workers have been reported to work as much as 100 hours a week
- The use of zero-hours contracts, especially among Quality Assurance (QA) testers.
- The industry’s lack of diversity and inclusion, as well as its failure to tackle the pervasive culture of homophobia and sexism.
The inaugural meeting of the IWGB’s Games Workers Unite branch, which will include the election of branch officials, will be held on 16 December. The IWGB expects hundreds to join the branch in the first few months.
The branch will be open to all past, current and soon to be workers in the video games industry, except those with hiring and firing power. The branch will include contract, agency and casual workers, as well direct employees.
The UK video games industry is the largest in Europe, with approximately 47,000 workers, according to UKIE.
Game worker and founding member of the IWGB’s Games Workers Unite branch Dec Peach said: “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. Now, as part of the IWGB, 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.”
IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “The game workers’ decision to unionise with the IWGB should be a wake up call for the UK’s gaming industry. The IWGB is proud to support these workers and looks forward to shining a massive spotlight on the industry.”
The IWGB is the leading union for precarious workers and workers in the so-called “gig economy”. It has led campaigns and strategic legal action against companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and CitiSprint.