A group of quality assurance testers working on Dragon Age 4 have filed an application to unionise.
The employees, who work directly with developer BioWare but as contractors of supporting company Keywords Studios, are attempting to unionize over issues of poor pay, a return to work mandate, and more.
An anonymous source told Kotaku that Keyword employees would have to return to their Alberta-based office on May 9 despite cases of COVID-19 slowly rising since the start of April.
Keyword employees would not be entitled to sick pay if they had to quarantine as a result of COVID-19, the source said, while BioWare employees are allowed to work from home completely.
The return to work ruling was seemingly the final straw for the 15-20 QA testers who allegedly are already subject to poor pay. The source said some employees are being paid $16.50 Canadian dollars per hour – $12.82 U.S. dollars – which is considerably less than identical roles carried out by full BioWare employees.
Other issues were raised including gender-pay discrimination, a lack of useful performance evaluations, and a hostile response to unionising efforts.
The union application was filed on April 20 and is currently being reviewed by the Alberta Labor Relations Board until May 3. A vote to unionise will be held within the next two weeks, and the result will be confirmed by the board within another two weeks.
The source said the group is “very confident” it would win the vote, having taken inspiration from the recent efforts of Raven Software QA employees to unionise, allowing them to have more influence over their workplace.
They became the first union within Activision Blizzard despite alleged attempts from the developer to stop them. The workers were left out of recent pay increases at the company however, with Activision Blizzard saying it was “due to legal obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.”
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.
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Author: Ryan Dinsdale