|Former dev 'blows whistle' on "unlawful" treatment at Codemasters|
|Posted: 16.01.2012 12:32 by Simon Priest||Comments: 0|
Programmer Semi Essessi who worked at Codemasters Guildford, the now defunct Bodycount developer, has blogged his experiences in being chewed out by the UK-based company.
Specifically he details how many have been denied overtime, of which Essessi racked up over 400 hours, and how Codemasters is demanding money back that was 'overpaid'.
In the blog Essessi reveals he and other former staff were given a larger pay packet before Christmas, and how they felt it was a 'quiet bribe' to keep quiet about the terrible handling of it all.
No - in fact Codemasters issued an ultimatum that they wanted the extra pay back in 5 days time, giving a deadline of December 20th. This was passed and then extended to January 3rd. "I had already spent the money," said Semi Essessi. "I had accrued a considerable amount of debt during the year - some of which for the sake of travelling/moving to Guildford for the sake of Codemasters. It made sense to use it to wipe a big chunk of that out."
"I was also in the situation of needing to find a new place to live (expensive) as well as having transitioned between jobs... and it was Christmas."
"I needed legal advice and they were asking me to repay the money faster than I feasibly could get any. In fact they were asking me to pay by bank transfer as well, meaning I would have to make a payment immediately to have any chance of meeting their ridiculous deadline," he continued.
He told Codemasters he would repay the sum of money providing he was legally satisfied he had to, "despite the fact that I believe they owe me more than twice the sum they are asking from me as reimbursement for overtime." A new deadline of January 20th was given and a threat from Codemasters lawyers said if he failed to meet it they would "take your failure to pay as evidence of your insolvency, in which circumstances it will be entitled to petition for your bankruptcy."
"I can't help but feel that Codemasters are being wholly unreasonable about this," added Essessi.
"They are coming in heavy-handed at a bunch of people - 70 or so - who all received extra money and didn't query it because they all had plenty of good reason to expect it to be a genuine payment."
"After laying us off, after horribly mistreating us, after cocking up the redundancy procedure and best of all, just before Christmas, they are coming at us aggressively because they made yet another mistake."
"I have a general feeling of anger that the redundancy is ultimately down to the people at the senior level... having left a studio to burn through £20 million of expenses without any checks or balances to safeguard the investment, and yet we were blamed for this," he said.
Essessi felt he genuinely needed to break cover and expose Codemasters. "So here I am. I have gone public. You know my name, who I am and what I do. I have nothing to fear from Codemasters or anyone else in the industry - I am in the right - I have been reasonable and approachable and done nothing wrong," he explained.
"I write this article now not because I am bitter about redundancy - I've been there before - not because I want to weasel out of paying money - because I am willing to pay it back provided they make it reasonable for me to do so."
"I do it because it is the right thing to do - because I am sick and tired of big businesses being incompetent and getting away with it because of fear and naivete. I don't like bullies, I never have, I never will."
Codemasters has since responded to Semi Essessi's blog stating their advisors "are now aware of the additional comments that Semi has published and these will be addressed with him directly through the appropriate channels as necessary." They have been, and continue to be, "in open dialogue with Semi regarding the reimbursement of funds paid into his account following an administrative error, as it is entitled to."
Since the news broke in various places Essessi has had support pouring in for what is now known as "Codiesgate".
"I also would like to thank the gaming news sites for being good enough to post their stories, especially Eurogamer who jumped on it immediately and were kind enough to wait for my blog post to go live before posting their own story. I expect Codemasters did their best to ensure their silence on Friday afternoon. I've heard from newspapers that they were unreasonably asking for questions by snail mail - an obvious delaying tactic," he said.
For more information and an update on how things are going check out .