Union Groups Accuse Monument Valley Studio of "Union Busting," But Dev Denies

Union Groups Accuse Monument Valley Studio of "Union Busting," But Dev Denies

Ustwo Games says a senior programmer's dismissal has nothing to do with union activities.

Ustwo Games, the studio behind Monument Valley and Land's End, just launched a new game on the Apple Arcade. But the team has found itself under scrutiny from a pro-union organization claiming an employee was laid off due to his union ties, which the studio denies.

A release from Games Workers Unite says the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will take legal action against Ustwo for firing senior programmer Austin Kelmore, over what it calls the "victimisation of a leading trade union activist," if Ustwo does not reverse its decision by October 4.

According to GWU, Kelmore?—who is also the branch chair and founding member of the Game Workers Unite UK branch of the IWGB?—was informed in late September he would be put on "gardening leave" and then dismissed. The statement says this took place a few weeks after he was asked about his union activity by a senior manager, and also invited Ustwo employees to a meeting to discuss rights at work. GWU alleges this is an act of "unfair dismissal and victimisation by Ustwo," and could put Kelmore's Tier 2 Visa at risk.

In a statement provided to USgamer and posted to social media, Ustwo confirms that Kelmore is departing the company but refutes the reasoning presented by GWU and IWGB. The game development company says there are "misleading" statements in what has been said by IWGB, but will not be commenting further on the matter.

Unionization has been a point of discussion in the industry over the last few years, with pro-union advocates hosting discussons and trying to encourage game workers to organize through entities like GWU. But while some headway has been made, it's still a hot topic of discussion. It's unclear without further evidence from either party as to the true reasoning behind Kelmore's departure, but we'll see how things shake out when IWGB's deadline rolls around tomorrow.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

In other news

NES Tetris Tournament Crowns New World Champion in Brother Against Brother Battle

The Classic Tetris World Championship ended with yet another thrilling showdown in 2020.

Where Cards Fall Making the Leap From Apple Arcade to PC and Switch in 2021

The Blaseball team's house-of-cards adventure is coming to new platforms.

Chip's Challenge Is Free on Steam, and It's Ready to Whip Your Flabby Brain Into Shape

Help Chip be cool in one of the most addictive puzzle games ever made.

The New Myst Remake for Oculus Rift Is Also Coming to PC

Cyan is rebuilding the 1993 classic from the ground-up for VR as well as flatscreen play.

Need help?

Tetris 99 Tips

There's a new battle royale game on the block. Here's how to win at Tetris 99.

Tetris 99 Tips - How to Win at Tetris Battle Royale

There's a new battle royale game on the block. Here's how to win at Tetris 99.

Gotta Catch All 98 Opponents in Tetris 99's Upcoming Pokemon Crossover Event

Tetris 99's new crossover theme might be its best yet.

If You're Bad at Tetris 99, You Can Now Squad Up For Help

The puzzle-battle royale hybrid just got friendlier.