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French union flags concerns for welfare of Don't Nod staff

Update: Don't Nod has issued a response to STJV's allegations that the studio is unable to handle the number of projects it is working on

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Original story: French union STJV has said it is concerned about the welfare of employees at Life Is Strange developer Don't Nod, in part due to alleged erratic organisation but also to the studio taking on more projects than it can handle.

The union laid out the issues that it has reportedly discovered in a post on its website, which elaborated on problems with the studio's organisation and its communication with its workers.

The body claimed that, based on conversations it has had with staff, the studio is known to change its deadlines frequently, give contradictory information to teams, and move staff from team to team with no clear goal. As of October 2023, Don't Nod has eight titles in the pipeline.

For example, it's claimed the studio disbanded the Jusant production team after the game failed to meet commercial expectations, moving the team members onto other projects – but many ended up without any work for more than two months.

The union added that the breakup of this team was a "sudden decision" that Don't Nod failed to justify to the company's social and economic committee (CSE, an internal organisation representing a company's workers).

Similarly, the team on the upcoming Banishers was allegedly only informed that the game's launch was being pushed from November 7, 2023 to February 13, 2024 just 30 minutes before the public announcement.

The STJV said it is concerned about the psychological and social impact for Don’t Nod workers as it’s been informed of needing to be signed off work, or suffering from increased stress.

It also claimed every team is understaffed, and that while contractors have been called in to deal with production emergencies, it is "always on precarious contracts."

"This situation is a danger to the health of the workers and imposes enormous pressure on teams who are increasingly struggling to meet deadlines," the union wrote.

The STJV claimed that Don't Nod management has refused any direct communication between the union and staff, adding that it is relying on a notice board at the studio to inform 300 employees about any workers matters – despite 75% of employees being fully remote.

The CSE, which was elected in June 2023, is also reportedly having difficulty raising these issues due to the lack of communication between workers and management, employees suffering so badly they need to take sick leave or quit the studio, and obstacles to informing employees of their rights.

The STJV said Don't Nod's management is "burying its head in the sand" and mistreating the elected officials of the CSE.

GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Don't Nod for comment.

Concluding its statement, the STJV wrote: "Because Don’t Nod is one of the rare companies to offer full-time remote working and has been able to offer permanent contracts and defend a more progressive editorial line than its competitors, we urge management to take concrete measures to resolve all of the problems identified in this report, to listen to the legitimate concerns of its employees and its union, so that the company’s values ​​reach the height of its ambitions."

Update: Don't Nod has issued a statement to GamesIndustry.biz in response to STJV.

"The allegations of staff being 'regularly mistreated' do not align with our company values and culture," the company said. "We prioritise creating a supportive and inclusive work environment where every individual is treated with respect and dignity.

"We want to emphasise that these allegations are taken seriously internally. We maintain a continuous dialogue with our employee representatives and open channels of communication to address any concerns expressed by our team members. We remain committed to upholding a supportive and inclusive work environment for all."

The statement concluded: "We understand the importance of transparency and accountability, and we are committed to addressing any issues raised constructively."

Additional contributions by Sophie McEvoy