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Blizzard workers in France called to strike over closure of Versailles office

Blizzard workers in France called to strike over closure of Versailles office

October 14, 2020 | By Chris Kerr

Blizzard employees in France are preparing to strike over the company's decision to close its office in Versailles. 

Less than two weeks ago, Bloomberg reported that the World of Warcraft developer would completely shut down its Versailles site, which among other things handles marketing, customer support, and localization, after plans to relocate employees to London fell through due to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a statement sent to Gamasutra, Blizzard said it intended to "reorganize its activities" in Versailles, and had informed its employee representatives of the proposed project. 

Following that announcement, workers from the Versailles office are being called to strike by their elected unions to "defend our jobs and save our company." 

The call to strike, which has been circulating on social media, claims 285 people are at risk of losing their job, and alleges that Blizzard may have ulterior motives for wanted to wind down operations in France and move to the UK. 

"As you know, after repeatedly denying closing plans before both the employees and the French administration, the management just announced their will to execute a clearly long thought plan to stop all activities in France cutting 285 jobs," reads the document. "This comes as a shock for employees who were not expecting that announcement.

"In these times of COVID crisis, it is inconceivable to send 285 people on an employment market in turmoil. In less than 2 years, the management cut 133 jobs in 2019 with the INDIGO plan which was canceled in court (as demanded by your representatives), and then tried in March 2020 to cut even more jobs with project GEMINI, but had to give up. 

"The closing of the French company, supposed to preserve competitiveness in a group that is already leading its industry, seems even more absurd as the video game industry has suffered less than many others from the COVID-19 crisis, and even benefited from the confinement times that increased their overall earnings. 

"The will to avoid European tax rules by creating an ABK hub away from Europe in London seems a more probably explanation."

The unions are demanding that Blizzard cancel the closure project and strive to create a more positive  workplace environment. We've reached out to the company for comment.

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