Game workers forced back to office oppose “reckless decision” from Rockstar

Thu, Feb 29, 2024, 10:53 AM
  • Rockstar Games announced on 28th February 2024, that workers will have to be in the office 5 days a week from 15th April 2024 as remote working provisions are withdrawn for the majority of staff.
  • The news comes one year after 170 Rockstar Games workers in the UK signed a petition opposing mandatory 3-day office work, in one of the UK games industry’s biggest ever trade union actions.
  • Workers belonging to the IWGB Game Workers Union accuse Rockstar of “broken promises”, and share concerns around health, caring responsibilities, living arrangements, and a heightened risk of overwork.

On Wednesday 28 February Rockstar Games, one of the world’s largest games studios, announced that from 15 April, the majority of staff will be forced to work in the office five days a week, with management claiming exceptions will be “rare”. Workers for the company who are members of the IWGB Game Workers Union have described the move as “reckless decision making”, and raised concerns about ill-planning and serious impacts on wellbeing. Select individuals were notified in early February, though official communications took over three weeks to emerge, leaving many anxious of circulating rumours.

The mandate comes one year after unionised workers submitted a petition with 170 signatures, demanding continued remote work options responding to a mandatory transition to 3 days office working, in one of the biggest ever trade union actions in the UK games industry to date. Rockstar’s decision to implement the new policy also marks a U-turn from previous statements in which the company insisted flexible work options would remain available, stating in an employee-wide email “This isn’t our first step to 5 days a week. No one wants to go back to the old way of working.”

Workers criticising the move have pointed to the widely accepted benefits of remote work, and highlighted the difficulties that this decision will pose to employees with disabilities, care responsibilities, or health issues. Additional concerns have been raised by those who have moved their lives further away from the studios or made adjustments around their families that would now need to be repealed in under 6 weeks to comply with the demands.

Despite widespread and vocal opposition, Rockstar management are refusing to engage with workers, and say that on the 15th of April they will be pulling the plug on their remote access technology to shut down any possibility of continued home working, citing security concerns and reduced productivity without providing employees with any supporting evidence.

An anonymous Rockstar worker says, “Working from home has been a lifeline for many of us at Rockstar, allowing us to balance care responsibilities, manage disabilities, and relocate as we need. Now, Rockstar is snatching away that lifeline without a second thought for the workers who’ll be impacted most. After so many broken promises we now fear management may even be paving the way for a return to toxic ‘crunch’ practices. Senior leadership need to rethink their reckless decision making and engage with their staff to find an arrangement that works for everyone.”

Another shares, “As usual, there has been zero consultation with us: the people who these policy changes most affect. Just one of my concerns is being forced to work late hours in the office to maintain contact with global teams when before we could log on from home to attend late meetings. This will mean missing out on spending time with our families. I am also aware of colleagues who have health issues preventing full time office work who are now left in limbo.”

Speaking on behalf of their colleagues, one worker says, “We the staff care greatly about the games we make and our passion, skill, and talent should never be taken for granted by studio management. It is together, through collaboration and a healthy work life balance and workplace culture that we continue making some of the most beloved and spectacular games in our industry.”

Austin Kelmore, IWGB Game Workers Chair says, “The workers in the IWGB Game Workers Union at Rockstar are pushing for transparency over pay and promotions, a healthy and inclusive workplace culture, and work life balance centred around what each worker needs. It is unacceptable that Rockstar leadership have gone back on their word time and time again and have ignored the workers' requests for basic working conditions.

Workers across the industry are done with letting executives make reckless and harmful decisions and the Rockstar workers are showing us the start of what's to come if they're continually ignored. There's no better time than now to join our union and push for this to be the healthy and sustainable games industry we know it can be.”

For more information, please contact Jake Thomas


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