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Did Montreal Studios Collude To Control Salaries?

| 18 Nov 2008 16:54
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A 2007 email that passed around high-profile developers in Montreal has raised the ugly specter of industry collusion to keep employee salaries down.

Gamasutra has an exclusive report about an email sent to Ubisoft Montreal in June 2007 by Flavie Tremblay, then the human resources director at Eidos' new Montreal studio. "As you know, there are more and more important players in the Montreal industry, and the well of our resources is limited," she wrote to Francis Baillet, who had taken over as vice president of human resources at Ubisoft's Montreal operation.

"I sincerely believe that a collaboration would eventually allow us to better provide for our needs in forming a workforce, and avoid a bid for higher wages which would only benefit the employee, and which would end up harming the industry in the long term," she continued. "I know that all of us face the challenge of employee retention, but I sincerely believe that salary augmentation does not represent a long term solution. Let me know if you are interested in an eventual discussion. I believe that A2M will probably be interested; then, we'd only have EA left to convince."

EA confirmed that it did receive a similar email, but declined to say where it originated; however, EA Montreal Vice President Alain Tascan emphasized that his company had actively campaigned for market-driven salaries in the region. "Since EA opened a Montreal studio in 2003, we have fought a legal battle for an open employment policy that allows natural market forces to determine where people work and how much they are compensated," he said. "These letters are especially troubling given the generous support that the Quebec Government and taxpayers have provided to help these companies create jobs in the region."

"Colluding with competitors to restrict salaries in Montreal appears unethical and definitely contradicts EA's core values," he continued, adding that EA is going through its records to confirm that nobody from the company took part in the scheme.

Gamasutra's sources say Tremblay sent the email entirely on her own, without the knowledge or support of Eidos executives, and the company "allegedly" fired her after the email was sent, although whether her dismissal was the result of the email or another matter is unclear. It's also unclear how Ubisoft and A2M reacted to the proposal. It is interesting to note, however, that following her departure from Eidos, Tremblay landed a job as human resources manager with her previous employer - Ubisoft.

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