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Ubisoft Employees Asked To Strike Over CEO's Comments, Pay Demands [Update]

French union members called to strike next Friday as the company goes through a rough patch

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Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Screenshot: Ubisoft

Ubisoft hasn’t had the best couple of years. A string of flops and disappointments means the company isn’t in the best shape as it heads into 2023, so in an attempt to get everyone firing last week CEO Yves Guillemot sent an email to staff telling them “The ball is in your court”. It did not go down well.

It was, in fact, about as bad as one of these emails can get, doing everything from blaming workers for poor results to advocating for extra work. As a result, the union Solidaires Informatique—which has members at Ubisoft’s Paris offices—has called for a strike next week.

The union is calling the strike to not only protest Guillemot’s dismissive comments, but to also call for better pay and conditions at the company, in particular a 10% payrise to account for the inflation crisis and the implementation of a four-day working week.

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Here’s their statement in full:

CALL FOR STRIKE UBISOFT PARIS

FRIDAY JANUARY 27-AFTERNOON

According to Guillemot:

THE BALL IS IN OUR COURT

(but the money stays in his pocket)

In his latest statement, Mr. Guillemot announces a worrying future for Ubisoft.

If the request to employees to be “especially careful and strategic with your spending” is ironic considering the company’s editorial strategy of the last few years, it is not funny. When Mr. Guillemot speaks of “attrition” and “organizational adjustments”, it means: staff reductions, discreet studio closures, salary cuts, disguised layoffs, etc.

On several occasions, Mr. Guillemot is trying to shift the blame (once again) onto the employees; he expects us to be mobilized, to “give it our all”, to be “as efficient and lean as possible”. These words mean something: overtime, managerial pressure, burnout, etc.

Mr. Guillemot asks a lot from his employees, but without any compensation. • Have salaries kept up with the high inflation of recent years?

• What about the implementation of the 4-day week?

• What has been put in place for the teams that come out of the productions exhausted (like those of Just Dance or Mario)?

We demand:

- an immediate 10% increase for all salaries, regardless of annual increases, to compensate for inflation. With the hundreds of millions of euros obtained from Tencent, there is money in the coffers of the employers.

- the improvement of working conditions, with in particular the implementation of the 4-day week.

- transparency on the evolution of the workforce, both locally and globally.

- a strong commitment against disguised dismissals and a condemnation of abusive managerial policies that push employees to resign.

And because Mr. Guillemot and his clique only understand the relationship of power, Solidaires Informatique is calling on the employees of Ubisoft Paris to go on strike on Friday 27 January in the afternoon, from 2 to 6 pm.

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Next fiscal year, which runs through March 2024, Ubisoft said it plans to release at least one additional unannounced big game besides Skull and Bones, Avatar, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage. Guillemot calls it “the biggest pipeline in Ubisoft history” in his email to staff and said he’s excited to share more at this year’s E3 conference in June.

Update 1/20/2023 3:12 p.m. ET: Guillemot was set to meet staff at Ubisoft’s Paris studio in a face-to-face Q&A meeting on Thursday but cancelled, two sources familiar with the event told Kotaku. It would have come a day after the CEO apologized for his earlier “ball is in your court” comment in a companywide townhall.

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The planned Paris studio visit was also the same day more than a million people flooded the city’s streets in a striker’s march protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise France’s retirement age by two years to 64. A source said the march was the reason why the Q&A was cancelled. Ubisoft did not respond to a request for comment.