Some Activision Blizzard employees are on strike as the vaccination mandate is lifted

Activision Blizzard employees have taken part in a planned walkout to protest the company’s recent decision to drop vaccination requirements for office workers.

Last week, the embattled World of Warcraft and Call of Duty maker announced it would no longer require Covid vaccinations from office workers, while encouraging a gradual return to in-person work over the coming months.

The decision, announced in an email by Activision Blizzard executive Brian Bulatao, was immediately criticized by employees who said it risked employees who may be immunocompromised or living with others who are and was poorly timed , as the US faces Covid’s current Omicron BA2 subvariant.

The criticism from employees sparked a slight relegation from Activision Blizzard in another email from Bulatao. This delegated the decision to remove vaccine mandates to individual studios, allowing Blizzard to say it would maintain the requirement “at least for the next few months.”

But that wasn’t enough to stop staff strikes yesterday, which appear to have involved anywhere from 80 (via Axios) to 115 (via Polygon) employees.

Activision Blizzard’s ABK Workers Alliance employee collective said its members are pushing for a full reinstatement of the company’s vaccination mandate and the ability for employees to choose to work from home permanently.

“We had 115 people participating in our virtual strike,” an employee told Polygon. “Most people have chosen not to be on campus due to an increase in Covid transmission in our area. ABK also did not allow people to take paid time for this strike, which is a break from their previous behavior.”

“Those dealing with any form of illness or disability are bearing the brunt of this decision to force everyone back into the office,” another told Axios. “It is evident that remote work is effective. Most people don’t need to be physically present to do their jobs.”

“The health and safety of our employees is paramount in everything we do, including our return to the office policy,” Activision said in response. “Although Activision Blizzard’s vaccination mandate has been lifted in the United States, we are still operating under a voluntary return to the office for the majority of our employees. Additionally, employees who do not feel comfortable returning to the office are encouraged to work with their manager and our HR team to explore options for work arrangements that are appropriate to their individual situation. We will continue to monitor the conditions and make adjustments to the policy as necessary.

“We recognize that some employees may participate in a work stoppage to voice their views. The Company supports the right of our employees to speak their minds in a safe and non-threatening manner and will not retaliate for any decision to participate in this work stoppage. The company also hopes that those leaving the home will behave in a legal, safe and non-violent manner.”

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