Update: The General Workers Union in Malta has reached an out-of-court settlement with Evolution, according to local news reports on December 17. The agreement reportedly includes securing 40 alternative jobs and improved severance packages for NetEnt staff. Malta’s Superior Court had issued an injunction against NetEnt following a request made by the union. News of the order to delay the company’s 324 planned redundancies broke on December 11.
No time to decide
Evolution is giving employees that are being laid off after the company’s acquisition of NetEnt just a few days to accept or reject severance packages. This comes not long after the General Workers’ Union in Malta announced an industrial dispute with Evolution and NetEnt.
The affected workers received a letter on Monday detailing the severance packages. They will need to confirm their selections by December 10 at the latest.
According to EGR, the employees have two options. In one, the employees get a single ex-gratia payment to resign from their positions in advance of the standard one-month notice period. They will also forfeit all future benefits and payments entitlements. The workers would get their standard pay up to December 10 and a single notice period payment.
a very restrictive resignation package”
The other possible redundancy package allows employees to receive their usual pay up to December 31 without receiving any notice period or ex-gratia payments. Length of service will be the basis for calculating all of the payments. As reported by EGR, one NetEnt employee labeled the first option as “a very restrictive resignation package.”
The news about these severance packages comes only a day after the General Workers’ Union (GWU) in Malta announced the commencement of industrial dispute proceedings against Evolution over the layoffs. The GWU says that Evolution did not consult it as part of the process.
It also claims that the company did not send details about the redundancies to the GWU in writing, which is a requirement. If Evolution is deemed to have broken these rules, it could face a fine of at least €1,164.69 ($1,410) for each employee it is laying off.
In total, more than 300 employees will lose their jobs. According to the GWU, there is “no effort being made to avoid redundancies, and by engaging in anti-union tactics.”
As Evolution began celebrating in our faces and eating pizza, I had to go home and face my children”
Security escorted the affected staff at NetEnt’s live dealer studio in Qormi, Malta to gather their possessions shortly after they were told the news last week. One employee told the Times of Malta that while this was going on, representatives from Evolution were drinking champagne and eating pizza.
“As Evolution began celebrating in our faces and eating pizza, I had to go home and face my children, call the bank and plan what I was to do next,” the NetEnt employee said.
The news of Evolution’s acquisition bid came in June. Since then, it had been looking to speed up the deal as much as possible. While there was a delay for a while due to an investigation by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the two companies eventually got the all-clear to proceed in mid-November.
The Malta Gaming Authority and the Consumer Affairs Authority had already given the deal the green light. NetEnt shareholders also gave their seal of approval for the deal in an overwhelming fashion. The acquisition was officially completed on Tuesday, December 1.
Evolution is looking to create synergies through its SEK19.6bn ($2.3bn) acquisition of NetEnt. It forecasts that it can save about €30m ($36.3m) as a result of numerous cost-cutting measures, including the layoffs.