We are pleased to announce that the IWW Escape Room Workers Union is going public!
The ERWU have been organising in several escape rooms across the UK and as workers in the industry we’ve encountered many issues first-hand that have given us cause to take action. From poor health and safety to low pay and not making time for breaks, employers have a tendency to treat their staff without the respect we deserve.
Escape rooms became very popular in the UK after 2014 and since this time has undergone a transformation from an amateurs hobby to an industry employing thousands of workers and with a growing requirement for talent. While some escape rooms can be as simple as one person running a game out of their garden shed with a few padlocks and some passion for games there are now also companies worth millions employing whole teams of game designers, game masters, actors, resetters, technicians, office staff, managers, cleaners, marketing depts and website builders. The industry has been around long enough now too that workers in 2023 have the opportunity to really use their experience in the industry to expect more for their skills and reputation.
Despite this being an exciting time for workers exploring new opportunities to build a career in escape rooms, employers seem to be behind the times and cutting corners wherever they can.
Across the board escape room workers are paid less than other hospitality staff in the same area. At the Locked in a Room, which boasts that it’s the biggest escape room company in the UK, where the majority of our union members work, the average wage for all staff is barely above minimum wage. Managers have taken a real term pay cut. Office staff are understaffed and their benefits are comparably much more scarce than in other workplaces. Games masters, who operate all the games and handle all the face to face customer service have had their workload increased by a third over the past 6 months while struggling to survive on minimum wage in a cost of living crisis.
The effects of these conditions on staff includes some leaving the industry (further worsening understaffing), take out loans from friends to get by, can’t afford public transport, housing insecurity, using food banks, stress impacting on mental health and workers on zero hour contracts working while sick because they can’t afford the time off.
Meanwhile our bosses are raking in all the profits from of our work without putting in the same amount of effort or showing us any of the respect and appreciation we deserve.
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. We want our grievances to be listened to, for our labour to be fairly rewarded and for the escape rooms across the industry to maintain a high standard for safety and workers rights. Rather than quitting,which is the only suggestion made by our bosses, we have instead chosen to form a union and fight for changes together.
To these ends we invite all escape room workers to follow our example, start organising, and join us in the IWW-ERWU!
For advice and support contact padlock [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk