A court has provisionally upheld a warrant of prohibitory injunction called for by the General Workers’ Union in an attempt to block a mass lay-off plan by gaming company NetEnt.
The decision was delivered on Friday by the First Hall, Civil Court, presided over by Mr Justice Toni Abela, following an application filed by the union after the Qormi-based studio of NetEnt began to lay off hundreds of workers.
More than 300 workers at the company's Qormi studio were told their services were no longer required on December 1.
The plan appeared to have been looming on the horizon ever since the €2 billion company had been taken over by Evolution Gaming Group.
That unexpected move had prompted the Union to register an industrial dispute with both gaming companies, claiming that they were breaching the law on collective redundancies.
In its application, the GWU argued that NetEnt had failed to abide by local and European laws regulating collective redundancies and thus, workers’ rights risked being “irremediably prejudiced.”
Not only was the company refusing to consult with the union, representing the “absolute majority” of the workers, but it was also urging employees not to turn to the union, but rather to accept the company’s “offer.”
Following the events of December 1, which left some 324 employees facing the prospects of redundancy days before Christmas, the Union had called for an urgent meeting the very next day.
A NetEnt representative said that he would pass on the information to Evolution Gaming.
Meanwhile, letters of dismissal were sent out to some of the employees.
On December 3, instead of the promised meeting, the Union was told that the company had appointed an employee representative.
However, that appointment itself had not followed the proper legal procedure of information and consultation and the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations had not been duly notified in terms of law.
In its decision on friday, the court provisionally upheld the union’s request, ordering NetEnt not to proceed with its plans and scheduling the case for hearing on Thursday.
Meanwhile, following the court’s decree, a GWU representative stated that “thanks to the Court’s intervention following our urgent request, 324 illegal dismissals have now been put on hold. We will continue to insist that NetEnt and Evolution Gaming honour their consultation obligations in full, and we will do our utmost to ensure that jobs are saved, and, where that is not possible, that appropriate compensation is paid.”
Lawyer Aron Mifsud Bonnici is assisting the Union.