UK-based developer and publisher Lockwood Publishing has responded to allegations of unlawful layoffs by the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
Halli Bjornsson, CEO of Lockwood Publishing, has confirmed that 20 of the firm’s current 200 employees will be made redundant, but stated that the company has tried to "safeguard" as many positions as possible through redeployment.
The IWGB claims that Lockwood has conducted an "unlawful" redundancy process and that the firm has been "flouting" UK employment laws. Specifically, the IWGB stated that Lockwood is obligated by law to "conduct collective consultations", and that Lockwood has failed to do so.
The Union demanded that Lockwood "abide by employment law, recognise their union and initiate a fair process".
Since the statement from the IWGB, Lockwood has addressed the redundancies in an open letter to Lockwood employees, citing the reason for the redundancies was due to the pressure placed on Lockwood following the COVID-19 pandemic, and apologised to those affected.
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Prior to the pandemic, Lockwood had doubled its headcount to account for projected growth, but the effects of COVID-19 "slowed that growth trajectory".
The firm is currently going through a consultation process with eight staff requesting voluntary redundancy. Bjornsson stated that six employees have been offered roles elsewhere in the company.
"Early into that process, the IWGB Union requested we restart our consultation process to consult with the whole company rather than with individuals; we welcomed their suggestion, and acted on it straight away, restarting the process," said Bjornsson.
"Some of you going through the process will know that we’ve been happy to have Union representatives to sit in on one-to-one consultation meetings."
"Some of our team have raised questions about whether we could use our investment to avoid redundancies. We cannot do this. In order to thrive into the future, we have to build a sustainable, profitable and successful business, and sadly that means reducing our team."
The investment in question concerns $25 million that Lockwood raised last year, following a Series A funding round led by Tencent.
Bjornsson concluded: "The tough decisions we take are to safeguard the future of our business, and to secure the roles of as many people at Lockwood as possible. We are talking to all our teams about this decision, and are holding group meetings to answer their questions over the coming days."