As the international gaming industry faces wave after wave of layoffs, workers at Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher developer, CD Projekt Red, have created a new Poland-wide union aimed at protecting their rights. This arrives in the face of the massive studio announcing it would be firing nine percent of its staff by March 2024.
Związek Pracowników Branży Gier (Polish Gamedev Workers Union) has been created by CDPR employees Lev Ki and Paweł Myszka, reports Eurogamer, following a third round of job losses in three months at the studio.
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The new union’s site explains that it’s not specific to CDPR, but rather aims to represent “all professions and people working in the game development sector in Poland.”
CD Projekt Red has obviously been through a tumultuous few years, with the protracted development and disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 upending its schedules, pulling hundreds of developers off potentially The Witcher 4 and any other projects they may have been working on, and then only made worse by a further year of all-hands-on-deck trying to get CP77 into a functioning state and its DLC out of the door.
That done, the studio will be entering relatively quieter times, and as is the grim state of the games development industry, mean it does not need to employ as many staff until it gets closer to launching whatever might come next. Announcing it would be letting go nine percent of its workforce, some 100 people, was enough to push those remaining into organizing.
“This event created a tremendous amount of stress and insecurity, affecting our mental health and leading to the creation of this union in response,” explains the site. It continues, “Having a union means having more security, transparency, better protection, and a stronger voice in times of crisis.”
This union can only represent workers in Poland, with Polish contracts, and as such doesn’t cover those in CDPR’s Vancouver studio. However, they can of course begin their own efforts to unionize. As the union site explains,
The above shows how employers tend to view their interests to be in conflict with those of their employees. While employees are the ones creating value in this arrangement, they lack any decision power in company-structure-related matters. That is why we need to organize to enter those situations on equal footing.
Update: CDPR gave us this statement in response to the formation of the union:
We have been informed about the intention to form a trade union covering gamedev companies, including our company. We will act in accordance with law and comply with legal obligations that might arise from that situation.
At the same it’s worth mentioning that the voice of RED’s team is already represented by the RED Team Representatives (RTR), which is a democratically elected body representing all employees and independent of the management board. We have been working with them for over 2 years now and we will continue to do so to keep our work environment transparent, safe and healthy.
Updated: 10/10/23, 03.51 a.m. ET: This post was updated to include CDPR’s statement in response to the story.