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Nearly 700 Ubisoft Workers Went On Strike This Week

"To Ubisoft’s management, our living standards going down isn’t a bug; it’s a feature"

STJV

Ubisoft workers in France aren’t satisfied with their pay, and this week, they did something about it. According to Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo (STJV), a French video game workers union, nearly 700 Ubisoft employees across Paris, Montpellier, Annecy, Lyon, and Bordeaux participated in a national strike.

In terms of sheer numbers, this makes it one of the largest video game industry strikes in history. For comparison's sake, over 150 employees walked out of Riot in 2019, and around 450 walked out of Activision Blizzard in 2022. There was also a SAG AFTRA-organized video game voice actors strike from 2016-2017, but exact numbers there are harder to calculate.

STJV declared its intention to strike two weeks ago, explaining that negotiations over salary had stalled after management offered raises that would be lower than inflation for a second year in a row. Ubisoft is doing this, according to STJV, in the name of meeting “arbitrary cost reductions targets.”

“How can we square such disdain with our CEO urging us to 'gain in agility and efficiency'? How could we accept such low raises when the company boasts of 'an excellent second quarter, well above [our] expectations,' all while paying tribute to the exceptional level of commitment from the teams?' STJV wrote in a post on its website. “The conclusion is thus: to Ubisoft’s management, our living standards going down isn’t a bug; it’s a feature. A company that still makes a profit, even when its execs have failed repeatedly, choosing to have its employees pay to increase its profits is plainly unacceptable."

On February 14, employees followed through on the strike threat, taking to the streets with union flags and picket signs in hand. “Yves [Guillemot], the ball is in your court,” read one sign in French. 

Under the leadership of Guillemot and other Ubisoft execs, the company has in recent years weathered multiple sexual misconduct scandals as well as accusations of an unsafe workplace and “toxic” management. Now substandard pay is on the list, as well. Amidst all of this, Ubisoft has sought to reinvent its game lineup following diminishing returns from franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Ghost Recon. This has produced some promising signs of life, like Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown and Assassin’s Creed Mirage, but also recently released pirate odyssey Skull and Bones, which spent years lost at sea while the world moved on. Like many other companies across the industry, Ubisoft also suffered from layoffs late last year.

Ubisoft has yet to publicly comment on the strike. The company did not reply to Aftermath’s inquiries about the strike and employees’ demands for better compensation ahead of publishing.

STJV considers the strike a major success, calling it “historic.”

"The pickets were well manned, and we want to specifically thank colleagues from other companies and students who came to support us. This proves the struggle will always bring us all together," the union wrote on Twitter. “Our message to Ubisoft’s management is clear.”

STJV also sent Guillemot a Valentine’s Day card. “From the STJV with love,” it read. “We still want to bel-yves. Will Ubi our Valentine?” According to the union, Guillemot has yet to reply.

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