Australian Video Games Industry Is Getting Its Own Union

Australian Video Games Industry Is Getting Its Own Union
Image: Game Workers Australia

Game Workers Unite Australia, a body that had previously been an advisory and support organisation, announced today that early next year it will be transitioning to becoming a full-blown union.

In its previous guise GWUA had been “supporting and empowering workers to build a better games industry” by providing information and assistance to anyone wanting to join a union. A big part of that was telling workers which existing union they were eligible to be a part of, which tended to be either Professionals Australia or the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

In 2022 that will change, with the GWUA becoming Game Workers Australia, “an all-new division of Professionals Australia” (a larger umbrella union encompassing everything from engineers to scientists). This not only means that all games industry workers can join the same, specific union, but that they’ll be afforded all the benefits and protections joining a union involves, and specifically tailored towards the games business to boot.

The GWUA will now be able to “take legal action to defend our members against underpayments, discrimination and bullying, organise collective agreements at workplaces, and lobby governments and industry on an equal playing field with studio owners and publishers.”

Which rules. You can read Game Workers Australia’s full announcement below:

Next year, GWU Australia will re-launch as Game Workers Australia: an all-new division of Professionals Australia with a tiered membership package just for game workers.

By becoming a member of the newly formed Game Workers Australia, you’ll become a formal trade union member of Professionals Australia and have access to support, services and solidarity that will help you at your workplace.

We will retain our free membership tier, and continue to offer the same assistance that we currently offer to anyone in need who approaches us.

But with the power of Professionals Australia behind us, we’ll be able to do so much more – take legal action to defend our members against underpayments, discrimination and bullying, organise collective agreements at workplaces, and lobby governments and industry on an equal playing field with studio owners and publishers.

We’re yet to nail down exactly when Game Workers Australia will launch. You can register your interest to become a member, or stay informed about the latest news, by clicking here.

Want to do more than just wait? You can join GWU Australia now (it’s free!) to be in on the ground floor as this transformation happens.

Currently, we are hoping to launch in March 2022. Watch this space!

Comments

  • We’re not America. There is no point in attacking union formation when it’s been part of our industrial laws for years.

    • This is a weird comment for anyone to make if they’ve been alive in this country at any point since the Howard administration.

      Do you not remember when they made industrial action effectively illegal?

      • You mean Howard who immediately lost the next election, was kicked out of politics entirely and the policy wasn’t repeated since? Yes, I quite fondly remember that election. It was excellent.

        • Union busting never stopped. After Howard there was Labor who did very little to re-empower the unions after the LNP broke their backs throughout the 90s. There was famously Workchoices and a whole raft of other changes both small and large to ensure unionism never got even close to where it was. Our media is owned by a small handful of people who are all staunchly anti-union and with enough repetition the country as a whole has gone sour on the idea of unions. None of this was by accident and frankly, Labor didn’t bother doing much to stop it because they haven’t been a worker’s party for at least 20 years. Hell, the liberal party has a whole section of their site called “Tackling Union Lawlessness” like unions are some kind of network of violent gangs or something. They blatantly call union communications propaganda. It’s a constant series of attacks to undermine worker faith in unionism as a concept and it has never relented. Not once. For decades.

          Union membership was as high as 60% of all eligible workers in the 70s and has had a steady drop over since the 80s. Which is exactly when the decades-long smear campaign against unionism by the right started. Current union membership for eligible workers is around 12%. Twelve. And that’s only because a few industries seriously over-represent the numbers. Teachers are at about 35%, public servants are at about 30% and nurses are at about 25%. Industries with serious vulnerability like construction and retail are less than 15%.

          • Labor’s been embroiled in union corruption scandals for decades, as have unions themselves for a great deal of questionable behaviour. It’s not union busting to observe an existing problem and be reluctant to add more fuel to the fire that is rampant within unions, like our good friends over at the CFMMEU. Unless anti-corruption powers themselves are strengthened, further empowering unions also empowers the corruption within them that’s already taking too long to be dealt with (much like within politics generally and the LNP itself). There’s also many unions, like the Police Association who do sweet bugger all for their members, but enjoy a seeming immunity to their consistent refusal to defend workers being harassed by an employer notorious for cronyism and defending abuse within management. It doesn’t take the media to note that some unions simply don’t care about their members and should be held to greater account for their inaction. There’s plenty of people with personal experience happy to tell their stories elsewhere or during legal action against employers that highlights these problems.

            The Liberals are not entirely representative of the Australian voting public and their agendas are not the agenda of the public. Again, see Howard’s summary punt from politics. What is a concern for the general public is when your union fees pay for basically nothing, as they do in the Police Association when their overwhelming advice is “don’t talk” and not to bother contesting inevitable penalties. People are paying union fees to unions who do essentially nothing. This isn’t every union, but there are enough of them around doing this to have soured the reputation of unions without any help from politicians. I don’t think people buy into at all that they’re gangs, but there enough people who’ve had negative experience for word of mouth to travel around that some unions just aren’t worth it. If they’re misappropriating money or engaging in other shady behaviour, then that’s just the cherry on top.

            For those who withdrew from their union, I have little doubt that the drop in membership would also correlate to surveys indicating poor service provision and support by their union. You don’t need a media campaign to smear a union, when many unions themselves are now no longer speaking on behalf of the workers, but themselves as an organisation or on behalf of their political aspirations. This isn’t a matter of the media being mean to unions, it’s a matter of the service itself and respect for representing the workers’ interests declining to the point where people don’t want these organisations speaking on their behalf as a worker. It’s all well and good to throw all the blame at the media and politicians, but many of these problems are also self inflicted ones. Conflating union busting with people being unhappy about the level and quality of union representation they receive isn’t the answer. The media has had some part, but I doubt it’s the main reason for dissatisfaction in this country at least.

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