Following the historic vote in favour of forming a union by QA staff at Call of Duty studio Raven Software last month, unionisation has remained one of the key topics of conversation hanging over Microsoft’s impending near $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Given the latter’s opposition to the efforts of the Game Workers Alliance to create a union for the Raven staff, many wondered whether this stance would change once the publisher was formally under the Microsoft umbrella.
Now, following statements in a blog post earlier this month by President Brad Smith, which seemed to suggest Microsoft would respect employees' rights to choose whether to join or form a union, an agreement with the Communications Workers of America organisation looks to have begun to put this sentiment into practice.
Microsoft Labour Neutrality Accord Seems Like Positive News for Employees
According to a press release from the CWA, the arrangement will apply for a 60-day period beginning as soon as the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal officially closes and will give employees a chance to consider union representation.
In the release, CWA President Chris Shelton said: “This agreement provides a pathway for Activision Blizzard workers to exercise their democratic rights to organise and collectively bargain after the close of the Microsoft acquisition and establishes a high road framework for employers in the games industry”.
He also added that the accord “addresses CWA’s previous concerns regarding the acquisition” and has led the organisation to give that deal its stamp of approval.
Microsoft President Brad Smith was also quoted and alluded to the “set of principles” outlined in the aforementioned blog post, adding that the agreement with the CWA is a chance to put those ideas “into practice”.
The release describes the agreement as being based around five provisions which will be extended to Activision Blizzard employees, with the first four outlining the means for these workers to be able to make the choice over unionisation in an accessible and confidential manner, with Microsoft remaining neutral in the process.
The fifth outlines what will happen if the CWA and Microsoft have any disagreements, with an arbitration process being available as a solution to rectify any unsolvable issues.
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