Park is inhumane to its staff, lawmaker claims

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 September, 2005, 12:00am

Labour body gets complaints about lack of work breaks

Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan accused Disneyland of forcing staff to abide by 'inhumane' rules, after hearing workers were not allowed to drink water in front of patrons, and called for a staff union.

'I don't think the company is respecting its staff,' Mr Lee said yesterday. 'It's not stated in the contract that they can't drink water when there are some visitors around.'

The head of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said his group had received about 20 complaints from the theme park's staff.

Most concerned long working hours and worries about extra pay and days off.

Mr Lee said he had also received complaints that workers were not permitted to make personal phone calls while working.

Some staff also felt there was a shortage of toilets available to them.

Mr Lee said he had received reports about unfair duty rosters. Staff of the Hong Kong theme park only had a 15-minute break every four hours, compared with a 15-minute break every two hours at the Disney parks in Japan and the United States.

'I don't think it will compromise the service of the park if the company pays more attention and gives more respect to its employees,' he said.

He said he would hand out flyers about the dissatisfaction outside the park's staff entrance this morning.

Disneyland would not comment on the complaints yesterday, but a company spokesman said the park was 'committed to an ongoing open dialogue with our cast members and respect their needs'.

Tam Chun-yin, an organising co-ordinator of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said Disney set up those rules because it wanted to maintain the image of the park.

'They don't want their staff to act like ordinary people who would talk on the phone or drink water,' he said.

'Disneyland is portrayed as a happy world and their employees are trained not to act like staff, but 'ambassadors' who bring happiness.'

He said the labour group had already sent a letter to Disneyland to request setting up a staff union that could represent park workers in negotiating with the company.

The theme-park management replied that it was too busy, Mr Tam said.