GWU Newsletter #4

Dear Game Workers,

The recently released Kotaku article, exposing a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and abuse at Riot Games, was a shocking read for many game workers last week.

Unfortunately, for many women game workers, it was not shocking. It was simply another day on the job – another reminder that game workplaces, and game workplace cultures, can still be extremely toxic towards women.

Often, women in these toxic workplaces can feel powerless. But it is possible to fight back.

Across Australia, every day, women are taking action against harassment, abuse and intimidation – through their unions.

Unions have a history of empowering women

Most people associate unions with pay rises and nothing else. But the simple fact is that unions have been historically responsible for some of the most important advances for working women in Australia.

The trade union movement were the driving force behind the introduction of equal pay for women, for guaranteed maternity leave, for sexual discrimination legislation in the workplace, and much more.

These important gains were fought and won by hard-working union women who stood together and refused to be bullied.

And now, the union movement is leading the fight for guaranteed access to ten days of paid domestic violence leave for all Australian workers – an issue that overwhelmingly, and disproportionately, affects women.

Australia’s trade union movement even specifically maintains an ongoing and regular action group called WIMDOI (Women In Male Dominated Occupations and Industries), which you can find on Twitter and Facebook.

Many people aren’t aware that unions actually have substantial scope under Australian law to take action against harassers and abusers in the workplace. Just like every other part of your job, it’s workers who actually hold all the power – and when workers band together and take action, they get results.

Here are some ways that unions can assist women in the workplace:

  • Collective, Anonymous Representation: Women being harassed, abused or bullied by their co-workers can use the power of the union office to anonymously air complaints and avoid being targeted. Engaging collectively with the union allows the union office and the unions staff to be the ‘face’ of any concerns, allowing them to attract any backlash.
  • Customised Workplace Agreements: Strong union membership at a worksite means that workers can negotiate for an agreement which gives them extra protections against sexual harassment or abuse. Workers can use their collective strength to have disciplinary procedures, immediate intervention procedures, and other important processes enshrined in the workplace agreement and made legally binding.
  • Direct Legal Intervention: Union members can, either own their own or collectively, engage their union to file protection orders for workers who are experiencing bullying, abuse, or other unacceptable behaviour from colleagues (even outside of the workplace). These orders are serious business and your employer will be forced to make changes in the workplace, compensate you for lost wages, or make other concessions which will improve your working life.
  • Workers Compensation Assistance: Workers compensation isn’t just limited to physical injuries. If you experience sexual harassment or violence from a colleague (whether in or out of the workplace) and require counselling, this is a form of workers compensation. Navigating the workers compensation system on your own, and pushing your claim on your own, can be extremely difficult. Being a union member means access to experienced lawyers who will fight for your right to have your employer pay for the help you need, because of their failure to provide you with a safe working environment.

Being a union member means so much more than just getting good pay and conditions. Being a union member means taking control of your workplace and making it work for you.

If you’re being abused, harassed and humiliated, then clearly your workplace is not working for you. Joining your union is the best and most proven strategy for fighting back.

Join your union today!

Start fighting back by joining your union today.

All game workers, from direct game development, to journalism, to esports and PR and marketing, can join the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) today.

If you are in direct game development, you may wish to join Professionals Australia instead.

Whatever you decide, don’t wait around! Joining a union is the quickest way to start building a better industry, as well as to secure protection and assistance for yourself.

Why can’t we have a brand new games union?

As we discussed in our FreePlay presentation earlier this year, it is not realistic to expect an entirely new union to be created from nothing, to represent workers in the games industry.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions would never accept the need for an entirely new body, or approve its creation, at this scale. Our industry simply isn’t big enough to support such an move, and especially not when there are multiple existing unions like the MEAA and Professionals Australia who have the power to cover us.

The best way to start unionising the Australian games industry is by joining an existing union, and encouraging all of your colleagues to join as well. Adding your strength and voice to the collective will allow the union you join to begin devoting resources to supporting and organising in your area.

This will then increase recruitment, which will increase available resources, which will increase recruitment... and on it goes. But it all starts with you deciding to stand up for yourself. Join your union today! If youre not working in games, visit the Australian Unions website and fill out this form to have someone contact you with details about the best union for you.

Sydney Meetup!

One of our members has organised a meetup in Sydney this Saturday 18 August.

Get yourself along to the Broadway Hotel between 2PM and 6PM to chat to other game workers in Sydney.

You can find the event on Facebook as well.

The Industry Survey - We need your help!

Our survey completion rates are:

  • Game Developer: 151 responses
  • Game Journalist: 11 responses
  • Game PR/Marketing: 12 responses
  • Game Streamer/Video Creator: 22 responses
  • Professional Player: 3 response
  • Other Game Worker: 19 responses
If you know anyone who is a games worker, please encourage them to take the survey!

Join the Discord!

We are congregating and organising together on a secure Discord channel where we can talk about our issues.

If you’re a game worker in Australia and unionising is on your mind, join us! Fill out the application form and you will be emailed an invitation link once it’s been reviewed.

Applications are manually approved by our team to ensure security and prevent harassment.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to any other game workers in Australia who may be keen!

We need everybody’s help to make a difference.

About GWU Australia
Game Workers Unite Australia is looking to build a union for game developers in Australia and work in tandem with all branches of Game Workers Unite to bring about effective change in the industry.

We seek reform in wages, diminishing crunch, creating transparency in contracts, workplace safety, and bringing about laws to ensure game workers of all kinds recieve their legal workplace benefits.

We are run exclusively by workers (non-employers), but we actively encourage employers, academics, and others to engage in the community and help support the organization's direct action efforts both materially and through their visibility.

We support students, streamers, pro players, public relations, marketing, ads, sales, designers, writers, programmers, artists, producers, QA, localisers, audio, community management, office support, journalists, and more. If you work in games, you are one of us.