FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is Game Workers Unite UK?
- What do I get out of joining?
- How will the union benefit the wider UK games industry as a whole?
- Who is eligible to join the union?
- Will I have to pay a membership fee to the union?
- Should I get a confirmation email after I join?
- Who are the IWGB?
- How would the union help me if I was having a dispute at work?
- Can the union help with issues that occurred before I joined?
- Do I have to tell my employer if I’m in a union?
- Can I join if my company doesn’t recognise the union?
- Can I be fired or treated differently for being a member of a union?
- Is it illegal for my employer to want me to work over 48 hours a week?
- Am I allowed to discuss my salary publicly/with others?
- What are some good beginner-friendly resources for learning about unions and UK labour law?
What is Game Workers Unite UK?
The Game Workers Unite UK branch of the IWGB union is a worker-led, democratic organisation that represents and advocates for UK game workers' rights.
We seek to increase the quality of life for all game workers by campaigning to:
- End the institutionalised practice of excessive/unpaid overtime
- Improve Diversity and Inclusion at all levels
- Inform workers of their rights and support those who are abused, harassed, or need representation
- Secure a steady and fair wage for all
We are also an affiliate national chapter of the global Game Workers Unite movement, which is not a union itself but is dedicated to advocating for unionisation and game workers' rights generally.
What do I get out of joining?
- Democratic rights: all members elect their workplace reps, branch officers and central union officers.
- Campaiging rights: to fight for better working conditions. Trade unions have previously helped to achieve: limits on the working day/week, the weekend, longer annual leave, binding employment contracts, parental leave, minimum wages, fighting discrimination, and a collective way to demand better pay and conditions.
- Full legal protection support for employment tribunals and other legal cases.
- A trade union representative to provide advice and accompany you to disciplinary meetings.
- The option to strike: in the UK, strikes can only be organised through a legally registered trade union.
- See the IWGB's website for more details.
How will the union benefit the wider UK games industry as a whole?
The union will benefit everyone in and adjacent to the industry by pushing companies to improve their overall standards. For example, we will:
- Challenge the widespread practice of crunch, especially when it is unpaid or involuntary.
- Improve diversity and inclusion through better hiring practices and taking steps to make employees feel more included at work.
- Support developers on the receiving end of harassment and stand up against hate mobs and toxic behaviour.
Who is eligible to join the union?
The branch is open to current, former, and soon-to-be workers working for an organisation involved in the creation of video games. This includes direct employees, contract, agency, or casual workers. Managers with direct hiring and firing power are not eligible to join.
Will I have to pay a membership fee to the union?
Yes. All trade unions charge a monthly, tax-deductible membership fee (or subscription, commonly called “union subs”) to pay for the overall union. Our subs are based on a progressive structure linked to income, as follows:
- For those who earn £20,000 or less per year, a fee of £8 per month.
- For those who earn more than £20,000 per year, a fee of £10 per month.
- For those who earn more than £50,000 per year, a fee of £15 per month.
Should I get a confirmation email after I join?
Once you fill in the application to join the union you should receive an email confirming that your monthly direct debit has been set up. This will often arrive within a few minutes, but should arrive within 3 working days or no later than 5 working days before the first collection.
Soon after joining we will also send you a welcome email confirming your membership, signing you up to our newsletter, and inviting you to join our online discussion forum. If it's been more than a week and you still haven't received such an email please get in touch and we can assist!
Who are the IWGB?
We are! In part. For more information about the wider union and its history you can check out their website.
How would the union help me if I was having a dispute at work?
- A union rep could accompany you to any meetings with management, providing advice and support.
- We can provide training so that you can handle your dispute at work, meaning in the future you can help others too.
Can the union help with issues that occurred before I joined?
No. The legal department cannot handle cases that pre-date the member's joining date.
Do I have to tell my employer if I’m in a union?
No. In the UK, you can join any union you want, and you do not have to tell your employer. Employers have no right to ask you if you are a member of a union. [More info]
Can I join the union if my company doesn’t recognise it?
Yes. While having a union recognised by your company is good, it isn’t required. You can still have a union help you even if you’re the only unionised employee at the company. [More info]
Can I be fired or treated differently for being a member of a union?
Legally no. Your employer has no right to fire you or treat you differently because of your membership, e.g. by threatening you or by offering benefits for non-members. It is illegal for an employer to dismiss a worker or make them redundant because they are a member of a union or want to become one. The same applies to taking part in or wanting to take part in union activities.
There are legal protections in place to prevent employers from taking such action. The union may be able to follow a grievance procedure for unfair treatment or take the employer to an employment tribunal. If it can be proven that trade union membership or activity was the cause of unfair treatment or dismissal, the worker can be reinstated or receive damages. [UK Gov, Work Smart]
Is it illegal for my employer to ask me to work over 48 hours a week?
It depends. The 48-hour limit is averaged over 17 weeks, so you can work more than 48 hours in some weeks if you work less in others.
Your employer can ask you to sign an opt-out agreement where you waive this right so they can ask you to work more. However, you can refuse to sign this, and even if you do sign it you can (at any point) tell your employer that you wish to regain your right not to work more than 48 hours a week. When you regain your right will depend on your contract (but it will be at most 3 months). [More Info]
Am I allowed to discuss my salary publicly/with others?
Yes. While some employers may include clauses in employment contracts saying you’re not allowed to, these are not enforceable. [More Info]
Are there any good beginner-friendly resources for learning about unions and UK labour law?
Work Smart has fantastic information on unions in the UK. It also has a bunch of links to other organisations here. The TUC (Trades Union Congress) also has a lot of information on workers rights. Lastly, the UK Government site is a good resource for the basics.