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TIGA on Brexit: Asks UK Government to Protect EU Worker Rights

With around 15% of the games workforce in the UK being from the EU, TIGA urges the UK government to protect their right to work in the UK.

The Independent Games Developers Association (TIGA) is a network for game developers, digital publishers, and trade association representation within the games industry. TIGA has as focus on 3 main aspects: political representation, media representation, and business services.

Each these focuses is coming into play following the historic UK Brexit vote, as TIGA has reached out to the UK government and urged them to keep the rights of EU workers as they are -- protecting them from a possibility of being asked to leave the country. TIGA has also asked for clarification on what the status is for EU workers entering into the UK post-referendum vote.

With around 3 million EU immigrants, of the 64.1 million people living in the UK, and around 15% of the game development workforce being EU immigrants this is a preemptive move by TIGA while the legislation is still being written.

What is Brexit?

Short for "Britain exit," Brexit was a referendum voted on by UK citizens on June 23rd, 2016. The question was simple -- citizens were asked to decide whether the UK should leave the EU, or remain a part of it. ~52% of the votes wanted to leave, with ~48% voting to remain. While a referendum is not legally binding, democracy wins out, and it's likely that the UK will be leaving the EU in the future. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced he would step down by October following the vote, so it's likely the UK will start negotiations with the EU shortly.

What is TIGA asking?

Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA's CEO, has said that allowing EU workers to keep their workers rights "is just, reasonable, and practical." Wilson goes on to say that TIGA understands that as the UK has voted to leave, and due to the stance the EU will take in any negotiations, "it may be impossible to preserve free movement rights in their current form." So TIGA asking the UK to implement an "effective and efficient migration system."

Wilson is very direct, clear, and concise with what he wants to see, going on the offensive with:

“Firstly, the existing immigration cap that applies to skilled, sponsored workers will almost certainly need to be increased from 20,700 in order to accommodate the needs of UK employers in the future."

Continuing the attack, Wilson says that as there is already a shortage for specific skills, like Engine Programmer, Game Analyst, or Senior Game Designer, these types of roles will need to be added to the Shortage Occupation List to "ensure that employers can recruit the employees they need" without any "undue delay."

Wilson then goes on to talk about the immigration system, and its high level of complexity:

“Thirdly, any new immigration system must minimize some of the costs and complexity of the current points based immigration system as it is likely that any replacement will need to deal with work permits on a far larger scale than it is used for at present. It is vital that any new arrangements are not onerous or complex and that industry is not held back by skills shortages.”

Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman as well as CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, also weighed in with a heartfelt appeal, to not only the UK government, but also other UK employers by saying:

“It is decent, fair, and sensible from a business perspective, that EU workers already present and working in the UK are protected so that they can continue to live and work in the UK and contribute to our creative sector.  UK employers in all sectors of the economy must redouble their commitment to skills, training, and workforce development.”

These arguments, being as professional and direct as they are, put a good face on the games industry as a whole for the UK government. Many of the people who are writing the legislation that affects game developers are not gamers themselves, and the only information they really have about the industry comes through the mainstream media.

So rather than being a complex, nuanced industry filled with talented artists and designers, it may seem to them like a bunch of teenagers playing Call of Duty and ultra-violent, promiscuous games like Grand Theft Auto. It's a rather immature understanding of the industry -- one that ignores the level of professionalism with the games development sector. So TIGA is making these demands to make sure that the government's poor understanding of the industry doesn't hurt those working in it.

Will these arguments be heard by the UK government? Only time will tell.

Published Jul. 5th 2016

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