Corporate values are very important! «It’s about taking care of our company and each other», this is how Mark Zuckerberg formulated the three values of «Meta, metamates, me». But will one of the richest people on the planet really support his colleagues? According to our data, soon (August 2022), Meta plans to cut costs due to declining profits. Zuckerberg decided to boost performance goals and get rid of those «shipmates» who «shouldn’t be here». The company managers were instructed to lay off 10-15% of employees without notice, under the pretext of the net negative. Apparently, corporate values work only in one direction – the direction of Mark Zuckerberg and his Forbes ranking.
Game Insight employees heard over and over about the corporate principle of taking care of yourself, others, and the company. Former CEO Anatoly Ropotov (or is he Anatolijs Ropotovs now?) said he considers taking care of production teams to be his main responsibility.
Apparently, Game Insight’s care is of a «very high quality». Its Russian branch does not even have the money to pay current wage debts, let alone compensation for layoffs. But at the same time, the company insists that the equipment is to be shipped back at the employees’ cost! That’s 11 Zucks out of 10 for following corporate values.
But will the company get away with it? The only reason why companies like Meta and Game Insight are so hypocritical is that we let them behave that way. As long as we are divided and everyone is just doing their job, companies will be fooling us and trying to squeeze us to the last drop. Otherwise, why all these values? In practice, when employees need a company, it abandons them with ease. And when the owners of the company need employees to help them rise as high as possible in the Forbes ranking, that’s when banners, red flags and labor slogans come to hand: we all work for a common goal, here are corporate values about caring, we are in the same boat!
Being in one boat is good, but it is only fair regarding the employees. It is impossible to release a software product without well-organized teamwork. In conveyor production, the role of each employee in the production process is strictly defined. In the IT industry, however, we need to first agree on how we will build this process and who will play which role in it. We also need to regularly synchronize the results of our work with interested parties. There is nothing definitive in the development process, you need to regularly «check the clock».
Despite the popular belief that an IT person is an introvert who puts a sweater in his pants, our industry requires high communication skills and the ability to work in a team (so-called soft skills). And our teams are often international, therefore the conduct of the company branch will be noticed abroad (where, by the way, it is considered hypocritical when someone changes their last name to be in line with the current political agenda, while at the same time hiding their presence in the Russian Federation by renaming the branch of their company there). This is why IT companies’ employees do sit in the same boat, but not with its owners, who often do not even know what their production teams look like. We use our communication skills for work, but not to defend our interests. As long as this is the case, dubious corporate values will be drilled into our heads again and again.
Game Insight owners, as it is usually the case, do not know their production teams. Workers make them profit, and increase numbers in their bank accounts, why go deeper than that? Game Insight wanted to cut costs and its actions received fierce collective resistance from the employees. The clouds around the company are gathering with each day. The only correct option for owners is to meet one demand for all employees. Otherwise, the damage to the company will be much higher than the cost of paying employees’ debts. This can be seen from what is already happening inside and around Game Insight.
Clouds are gathering over Game Insight
As we wrote earlier, the liquidation of the Russian branch of the company is being handled by a private firm. Once again, the liquidator complained that he is overwhelmed with work, that there is no money, and demanded employees return the equipment at their own cost.
But apparently, the liquidator has heard the first rumblings of the storm gathering around Game Insight and decided to play a caring boss: invited the employees to an online event at the Job Center. That’s how he promoted this event:
«Participation is highly recommended. Contrary to popular stereotypes, this organization can be very helpful.»
Impressed with such an irresistible pitch, some of the employees went to the event. They received «very valuable recommendations» on how to write a resume and a portion of criticism against IT specialists.
«You do understand that your income is unreasonably high and needs to be revised?» - a summary of the Job Center position on IT employees.
Job Center is a government structure. If you think that this is all of the government’s «support», then you’re wrong. Game Insight employees send tons of complaints to many government agencies. Most of these complaints were taken into work, but the response of the State Labor Inspectorate (SLI) was quite surprising. In short, in response to the proposal to conduct an audit, the SLI referred to the Government Decree of 03/24/2022 N 448 and said something along the lines of: «We will not audit a company that leaves the country without paying salaries to its employees because we were instructed not to do so with IT companies so that they can get away with cheating IT specialist out of money.» Indeed, these are the measures for the IT industry that we really need (no)!
It seems that the liquidator has everything under control: he will file for bankruptcy, and lay off all employees, who will be left empty-handed. But some details suggest that it is unlikely that the liquidator will get away with it. State institutions are much more effective once the situation is made public and the highest levels of government have been made aware. The situation around Game Insight is gradually moving to the federal level. To make it known at the highest levels, the deputy request was sent to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Igor Viktorovich Krasnov, and the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation Anton Olegovich Kotyakov. Such deputy requests are processed slowly, but their consideration is mandatory, so we have exciting news ahead.
If the liquidator attempts to bankrupt the company and transfer employees to a new director, he won’t be able to do it quietly. Such an attempt may raise some questions:
- Why didn’t the liquidator start bankrupting the company immediately, and instead decide to convince everyone to sign a resignation first?
- Why did he delay the advance payment until the bankruptcy of the company, according to the claims to the state authorities?
- Why doesn’t the liquidator want to count the equipment that employees have on their hands as a wage arrear payment?
- Is the liquidator inducing employees to sign resignations, bypassing the legal procedure of liquidation, because he wants to benefit from the remaining company assets?
Will the liquidator do as he claims and hands the employees over to the new bankruptcy manager? Doing so will certainly not be easy for him in the current situation. Meanwhile, Game Insight itself is starting to receive some reputation damage.
Game Insight is no longer the general sponsor of the podcast at the initiative of its hosts. Both sides agreed that neither side can no longer benefit the other.
Game Insight больше не является генеральным спонсором подкаста по инициативе ведущих. Обе стороны пришли к соглашению, что ни одна из сторон не может больше быть полезной другой другу.— Как Делают Игры (@kdicast) July 8, 2022
The company’s reputation is already dropping, and we haven’t even started to review Game Insight games yet!
We expect that soon Game Insight owners will start hearing thunders of the upcoming storm and attempt to have a dialogue with the employees. This is why it is most critical for the company’s employees to stick to one demand for all!
One Demand for All
Historically, unions have been able to see the inner life of corporations before they reveal it to the public. No, this does not mean that any corporation eventually cheats on its employees. For example, we know that Oracle and Intel are liquidating their branches in Russia very decently and doing more for employees than is required by law. May it be because «care for the employees» is not one of their corporate values?
In any case, Game Insight’s situation isn’t unique. We can assume that the company will try to soften up the most active employees or negotiate with them to put the resistance down. It is important to understand that any agreement on individual terms will discredit the entire protest. If each of the employees behaves rationally separately from the others, that is, without considering their interests, then in the end everyone will lose (prisoner’s dilemma). The company can definitely take advantage of this: «Look, they got 10 salaries and they’re just taking you for fools, who are you even listening to? They’re just making money off of you.» In other words, the employer operates on the «divide and conquer» principle, so individual agreements can destroy the entire foundation of the collective fight.
It is in the interests of most of the employees to stand by one legal demand for all:
Game Insight is required to terminate its employees under Article 180(3) of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation and pay its employees all wage arrears, medical leave, and vacation pay before the date when the liquidation starts, as well as 3 salaries after the liquidation.
Where did 3 salaries come from:
3 salaries - this amount is not fixed, but it is the minimum. 2 salaries for the period before the liquidation and 1 salary as a severance payment. In reality, the situation can be a bit more complicated. For example, an employer announced the liquidation of the company on June 15, 2022, and set a liquidation date to September 9, 2022. The employee could have signed consent to dismissal under Part 3 of Article 180 of the Labor Code, in which he indicated July 15, 2022, as a dismissal date. Then the employee works until July 15, and on that date, they must be paid their salary, medical leave, and vacation pay until July 15, their salary from July 15 to September 9, and severance pay in the form of their 1st paycheck. If the employee has also registered at the job center no later than July 1, they can expect to receive a salary from the company for September and October, as long as they don’t find another job.
Despite the seeming hopelessness of the situation, our union sees a real chance of fulfilling one demand for all employees, but on the condition that the employees themselves will stand their ground!