Per Polygon, these testers received word that they would not be brought back onto the game and were laid off on September 27. “We can confirm that regrettably the 13 Edmonton-based staff have now left the business following the end of a fixed term client contract,” said Keywords Studios’ global head of marketing Liz Corless in an email.
However, development support tester James Russwurm told Polygon that the “minimal” severance has apparently not been paid out to the affected employees, and so KWS Edmonton United has filed an employment standards complaint to Keywords Studios.
Keywords Studios Edmonton, who supplied the staff to BioWare, unionised in June of last year after management placed pressure on employees to return to the office. Organisation allowed it to argue against the in-office requirement and changes to their roles would not be permitted without consultation with the union.
“We encourage all workers to fight for their right to not be exploited. I hope that we will see more unions in the video game industry so it can become more normalised. As they say, a rising tide raises all ships,” said a member of KWS Edmonton United in an interview with NME following their success.
The union is aiming to secure better severance pay as a result of the loss of the roles of the 13 affected employees. Additionally, it was said that Keywords Studios staff were “in bargaining” with BioWare in the wake of the 50 jobs that were cut in August 2023.
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