28 March 2012

#OccupyGameStreet

On a sadder note we learned yesterday of the closure of GAME, the UK video game chain that has a number of retail shops in Ireland. On Monday the employees of GAME in Ireland were informed that the shops were being closed and everyone was out of a job, effective immediately. Although the stores in the UK have had an administrator appointed apparently no administrator has been appointed here in Ireland. No offers of redundancy payments were made, no help was offered with regards to seeking unemployment assistance or benefit, and while hopefully this month's paycheck will actually land in their accounts on Friday any outstanding monies owed beyond this are effectively lost. In short the 121 workers of GAME Ireland were left high and dry, like the Vita Cortex workers late last year or the staff of La Senza in January.

Obviously the folks in Vita Cortex and La Senza were on the mind of many GAME employees, for staff in a number of branches have begun a sit-in to demand what they are legally entitled to. They launched a Facebook page yesterday and this morning they issued a press release calling on GAME and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the UK Administrators, to act responsibly in this matter, treat the Irish employees at least as well as their UK counterparts, and as GAME continues to trade in the UK to ensure that proper redundancy payements and outstanding monies owed are paid to its Irish employees.

This is particularly sad news for me because, despite not being a Player of (video) Games, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (called "Dawson Street" by its inhabitants), I worked there. Back in the deep dark mists of time known as the early nineties I put myself through university by working in what was then called The Virgin Game Centre, which became Futurezone and then Electronics Boutique, before finally merging with its main competitor GAME sometime after I left. With each new owner the staff and management remained largely unchanged, and as I dropped by the Dawson Street store today to express solidarity I was surprised to meet my old boss there, who now (as far as I know) runs the whole Irish operation. Or ran, until this week.

Coming just days after the Vita Cortex staff marked the 100th day of their occupation of their former plant, what is interesting about the GAME sit-in is that it unlike Vita Cortex it is being staged by both local management and staff, all working together to demand what they collectively are owed, something that is great to see in an era of divide-and-conquer corporatism.

Though the last fifteen years have taken me down a vary different path indeed, a part of me will forever be burning itself on a shrink-wrapper in a Dawson Street basement.

I wish all my former colleagues success with their protest, and I hope that it will not take a hundred days to find a just and equitable resolution.

All day, all week, #OccupyGameStreet!

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