Games Workers branch

As MCV published last year, it is time for games workers to unionise. 

Bectu is the union for the media and entertainment industry and is well placed to support games workers wishing to build a workplace union.  Job roles in games range from software development through to scriptwriters, visual FX, production and QA. Some games workers are employees, either on permanent or short term contracts and others work as freelancers. Wherever and however you work in the games industry – Bectu is the union for you.

Games Workers in Scotland

Like the games industry in Scotland, our membership in Scotland is growing. Figures released by TIGA, the games industry body, showed that the games industry employs more than 1500 staff in games development as well as other jobs indirectly linked to development. Whether you are part of a large studio or one of the smaller independent studios you can join us and have a voice in improving conditions for workers in your industry. When you join Bectu as a games worker, if you live in Scotland, you will be put into the Games Scotland Branch. 

If you have any general questions or want to get in touch about organising in your workplace call our organiser in Scotland, Sarah Hughes on 07713 511731. If you are already a member and need to discuss a personal workplace issue, contact your Bectu official Douglas McGill on 0141 370 1590 or email dmcgill@bectu.org.uk.

What’s the problem in the Games Industry?

We know that the games industry is an exciting and dynamic industry to work in. The industry is growing and new studios are starting up all the time, however this can make employment conditions precarious. Games studios rely on their talented and dedicated workforce to produce their award winning games, but life as a games worker can be difficult. Long hours and a lack of transparency about terms and conditions are some of the key issues raised by our members. How do you know you are being treated fairly if your workplace doesn’t have any guidance or policies about what is expected of you?

Workers in well unionised areas of the creative industries are treated with respect by their employers. For freelancers, in recent years, Bectu has used new legislation on trade union rights, to promote the collective interests of freelancers.  We have been successful at the BBC, and we are now able to represent freelancers who work there on a collective basis. 

If enough freelancers in the games industry get together in Bectu, you too could make this positive change in your industry and start to negotiate collectively. If you are a freelance worker in the games industry in Scotland, join our Games Scotland branch.

Long Hours Culture

Bectu are well prepared to challenge the long hours culture in the creative industries, we are doing it in the TV and film industry and we can do it in the games industry.  Have a look at our report, Eyes Half Shut, published last year.

Working long hours negatively affects physical and mental health and wellbeing, negatively affects productivity and exacerbates equality issues in the workplace. People with caring responsibilities are unlikely to be able to compete in an environment where employees are expected to work extra hours.

In 2018, Rockstar North co-founder Dan Houser suggested that Rockstar North employees worked 100-hours weeks whilst developing their latest big game. Whilst he later clarified his comments and confirmed that 100 hours per week is not the norm, games workers at Rockstar North have verified that there can be times when long hours are expected and that this can intensify during the crunch periods when games are close to being released. 

Do the problems sound familiar? – join us and we can help challenge this in your workplace.

Job Security

Bad employers prioritise profits for shareholders and accept job insecurity and low pay for their workers. Unions are challenging bad employment practices, including the culture of bogus self-employment, Bectu support the TUC’s development of the Great Jobs Agenda.

In Scotland, Prospect/Bectu have been working closely with Scottish Government to develop the Fair Work Framework.

It identifies five dimensions of fair work: respect, effective voice, fulfilment, opportunity and security. Crucially, the Fair Work Framework says that effective voice for workers is much more than simply having a channel for communication. Collective bargaining, obtained through union recognitions helps to ensure that worker’s voices are sought out and influential.

Join us to work with your colleagues for a future where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and for society.

Transparency

When workers are employed on individual contracts they are told that they have the opportunity to negotiate for themselves. The truth is that most workers don’t have any power to negotiate, and in fact they have no idea how their pay compares to that of their colleagues or what they need to do to get an improvement in pay. This can lead to pay inequalities in the workplace. Gender pay gap reporting has highlighted these pay inequalities for women but we know that workers who are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME), from the LGBT+ community, or workers with disabilities are also likely to find themselves on lower pay.

Collective bargaining for pay and terms and conditions is the best way to get a fair deal at work. This can come about when employers recognise unions. Did you know that union recognition is a statutory right? Of course unions prefer to have voluntary agreements with an employer but if necessary we will help workers enforce their rights.

Bullying and Harassment

In some areas of the creative industries, such as those working as freelancers, workers can be hired and fired at very short notice. These workers are very vulnerable to bullying and harassment because they fear that if they speak up they won’t be able to find employment again. Bectu is helping workers in the creative industries Stand up for themselves and Stand up for their colleagues to stamp out bullying and harassment and working to ensure that processes are in place for the reporting and investigation. 

With our Dignity at Work campaign Bectu will seek to roll out best practice across the whole of the creative sector. Starting with a call to stamp out sexual harassment in creative industries, the Dignity at Work campaign will also shine a light on what more can and should be done to tackle issues close to our members’ hearts, including diversity and discrimination, respect at work, bullying, long working hours, culture and working environment.