Image credits: Lucas Ortiz
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News Article

Life of Permatemps in the Videogame Business

By Sofía Hanna | Fri, 10/30/2020 - 14:35

Videogame companies have been dealing with accusations regarding unfair treatment toward their "permatemp" workers, who despite working full time do not have benefits or even job security. They stay on the job for years but remain as temporary employees, reports El Financiero.

Labor disparity is not uncommon in the videogame industry, according to Emma Kinema. On one side, there are executives that make millions of dollars and on the other side, permatemps receive a base salary without knowing if their career will grow at some point. According to Emma Kinema, organizer of Communications Workers of America, permatemps agree to this uncertainty because they are told that it will be part of a trial run for the company to decide if their talent is truly needed. Still, most of these companies have no intention of hiring them because it would require more money and time.

According to El Financiero, the videogame industry employs more than 220,000 people worldwide, which includes thousands of freelancers and independent professionals in all types of areas going from code writers to style designers. Even though they do the same job as permanent workers, they are still treated like temps for long periods. The way most of these companies get away with this is by stating that making a videogame is a process of several stages and not everyone is required in all parts of the process. Companies draft contracts based on what stages people will collaborate, said Renee Gittinsm, Director of the International Association of Game Developers to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Permatemps are in a sort of gray legal area. President Andres Manuel López Obrador announced this week as well that he will present an initiative to Congress to eliminate outsourcing in Mexico. He highlighted that outsourcing, in which businesses hire external companies to take over part of their activity or production, only benefits companies and overlooks the rights of workers, MBN reported on Tuesday.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a normal clause on permatemps contracts states the following: “I acknowledge and agree that I am not eligible to participate in or receive any benefits under the terms of the Company Group’s retirement plans, health plans, vision plans, disability plans, life insurance plans, stock option plans, or any other employee benefit plan, policy, or procedure sponsored or maintained by any member of the Company Group.”  

Companies have implemented different schemes with permatemps, including a contract for no more than 18 months. Microsoft tried this but it did not work as expected because videogames take years to make, so changing personnel every 18 months makes the process inefficient and it takes longer to finish the final product, according to El Financiero. However, for the Founder of Stray Bombay, Chet Faliszek, the solution is obvious: not using temps to develop video games. Even though it takes more money and time, it is better for the final product and the employees, he told Bloomberg Businessweek.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
El Financiero, Bloomberg Businessweek, MBN
Photo by:   Lucas Ortiz, Unsplash
Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst