Employees of French Videogame Developer Eugen Systems Go on Strike

Games News Eugen Systems
Employees of French Videogame Developer Eugen Systems Go on Strike

Nearly half of French videogame developer Eugen Systems’ staff delivered one of the more vexing Valentine’s Day gifts in recent memory on Wednesday when they announced that they were going on strike.

In a statement released through Le Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo (Union of Video Game Workers), 21 of the company’s 44 workers claimed that they endured problems with management for the last 15 months regarding payment and contractual requirements. The group claims the company denied them overtime pay, delayed regular paychecks on multiple occasions, reduced gross wages below French minimum wage requirements, and chose to not recognize contractual and collectively bargained obligations to employees.

“A number of employees were told in another email that the conditions specifically mentioned in their employment contract, as well as in the collective agreement, were not recognized as legitimate by management,” read the translated statement. “The latter was enough for them for the non attributions of their official working status, salaries and associated benefits.”

The strike is now in its second day, and began one day after the studio, known for its RTS titles Act of Aggression and the Wargame series, released the latest update, Back to Hell, for Steel Division: Normandy 1944.

Eugen Systems issued a statement in response, in which they claim to fully respect minimum wage requirements and admitted to two instances of payroll being delayed, attributing the issue to troubles implementing legislative payroll reforms. Regarding the claims of unpaid overtime and allusions to crunch culture, the company said they don’t employ it, citing one example in 2010 where three employees were asked to work a Saturday to streamline a game’s launch:

There is no crunch culture at Eugen Systems. One time, in 2010 when RUSE was published, the management asked for three employees to stay on a single day on a Saturday: This day of work helped to ensure the stability of the servers and the smooth running of the launch of the game. Since then we have released five games, and crunch never happened again.

Eugen Systems does say they are open and committed to communication between themselves and employees, so hopefully the two sides will be able to come to some kind of understanding, though the striking employees saw the action as their only tactic following more than a year of feeling ignored and strung along. “Like anyone else, we assumed that dialogue, arguments and reason would be more effective than direct confrontation,” said the group. “After all, an employer should be able to understand that the law is the law, and that it is legitimate for an employee to demand that said law is applied, even when it is to their advantage.”

Le Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo has set up a crowdfunding campaign to benefit the employees on strike.

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