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Ustwo Games accused of union busting

UPDATE: Independent Workers Union of Great Britain has taken legal action against Monument Valley developer

Update, October 10, 2019: Having missed the October 4 deadline to reinstate Austin Kelmore, Ustwo Games now faces legal action from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.

The IWGB announced via Twitter that it submitted a claim against the Monument Valley studio on Monday, asserting that the developer has breached three sections of the 1992 Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidations Act) and one from the 1999 Employment Relations Act.

The next stage is expected to be slow. The UK government's website warns that it takes an average of 25 days to send a claim to the respondent. When it does, Ustwo will have 28 days to reply.

Original story, October 3, 2019: BAFTA award-winning studio Ustwo Games is facing legal action following accusations of union busting.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is threatening to take action against the Monument Valley developer after key programmer Austin Kelmore was allegedly dismissed for his union activity.

In December last year, Game Workers Unite (GWU) UK was recognised as the official industry branch of IWGB.

Kelmore, the chair of GWU UK, was allegedly reprimanded after he invited a group of Ustwo employees to a union meeting, and was subsequently questioned by management regarding his involvement.

In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, Ustwo Games denied the allegations: "Austin Kelmore is currently an employee of Ustwo Games and will be leaving in the near future for reasons unconnected to his membership of a trade union or his undertaking trade union activities.

"We have other employees who are members of trade unions. To respect Austin's privacy, it is not appropriate for us to comment further on this matter."

However, IWGB alleges that not only did Ustwo games fire Kelmore for his union activity, it also breached employment law by denying him the right to be accompanied by a union representative during his disciplinary and dismissal meeting.

As a US national, the union also raised concerns that Kelmore may lose his right to remain in the UK since losing his job.

IWGB GWU UK branch secretary Jamie Cross said: "Despite Ustwo's claims of being as much a family as it is a company, it has decided to leave Austin, one of its best developers, completely orphaned.

"Austin and his family are not only left without their main source of income, but also unsure if they will have to uproot their whole lives and leave the country in a few weeks. The union will not stand idly by in the face of this unlawful and vicious act, and is determined to fight back until this decision is reversed, either voluntarily or through the courts."

Ustwo has been given the deadline of October 4 to reverse the decision before legal action is filed.

Additional reporting by James Batchelor

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