Update: Eugen Systems has issued a statement saying that the dismissal of the employees was not related to the 2018 labor dispute at the studio, but because they "used a professional tool for an inappropriate purpose."
"As any employer, we have an obligation to prevent situations that could be prejudicial to our employees' health and safety, therefore we have been forced to make a decision accordingly," Eugen said. "This decision is not linked to the strike that took place earlier this year, and this has been formally reminded to the people concerned. Moreover, out of the six involved people, one of them never took part in the strike."
"We have fully respected our employees' right to strike, and our team still comprises those who were on strike, including one employee who has since been promoted to a managerial position."
The statement doesn't address the specific nature of the offense, but the Videogame Workers Union of France said in a statement released last week that the employees "were fired under the pretext of having negatively affected the mood (“dégradé l’ambiance”) of the studio and used insulting language in a conversation that took place in a private chat channel." Contrary to Eugen's statement, it also claimed that all six of the fired employees took part in the strike.
Steel Division: Normandy ‘44 developer Eugen Systems has fired six staff that were part of a strike over pay earlier this year, allegedly for using insulting language in a private chat channel and for negatively affecting the mood in the studio.
Twenty-one developers at the Paris-based studio walked out on strike earlier this year alleging "serious violations" of their rights including delayed payments, denied overtime pay, and wages that were below the country's minimum wage. The strike ended in April after negotiations failed to make progress, and the staff vowed to take the matter to the French Labour Court. The case will be heard in March.
The firings, which occurred on December 19, were revealed by Video Game Workers Union of France this week. The union has been helping staff with the ongoing dispute. In a press release, it said that six workers were fired under the "pretext of having negatively affected the mood ('dégradé l’ambiance') of the studio and used insulting language in a conversation that took place in a private chat".
The union claimed the move was "an act of retaliation and a preemptive move by management" ahead of the court case, which is being brought by 15 employees.
Before the firings the studio had 21 staff down from 50 at the start of 2018, the union said, which would mean its work force has been cut by nearly a third. The developer is due to release Steel Division 2 next year.
I've reached out to Eugen Systems for a response and will update this article when I hear back.