Staff exodus brewing at Disneyland, warns union

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2005, 12:00am

An employee exodus is brewing at Hong Kong Disneyland, with staff complaining about poor working conditions at the theme park, a labour union says.

Describing the working atmosphere as 'desperate', unionists said 12 security officers and seven employees from one department had left in the past two weeks.

But Disney said its employee retention rate was very strong, adding it would continue to provide long-term careers to its 5,000 staff.

'We will listen to employees' views,' a spokeswoman said.

She added there was 'absolutely no question' on manpower, and Disney was confident it could deliver optimum service to visitors during the 'golden week' National Day holiday next month.

Michael Wu Siu-ieng, of the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents, said nearly all Disneyland tickets reserved for overseas and mainland tourists had been sold.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and concern group Disney Hunter - which protested yesterday outside the theme park - said they had received about 40 complaints over the past month, mostly concerning staff shortages, working hours, the duration of breaks and rest-room facilities at the park. Some staff say they have been denied full 15-minute breaks after every four hours of work.

'A cast member has to spend half the recess time walking to the rest room, and still has to entertain picture requests on the way,' said Elaine Hui Sio-ieng, of the union.

Staff had also complained about the shift system, saying shifts had been cancelled 15 minutes before they were due to start, while others had to work a 6am shift after finishing work at midnight.

Sophie So Lok-yee, of Disney Hunter, said one trainee who had worked for less than six months was so frustrated that he paid the cost of his air ticket for his training in the US so he could leave.

Ms Hui said the groups were identifying core staff members to form a union.

Disney said direct dialogue with staff was more important.

The confederation will discuss labour rights with Hong Kong Disneyland group managing director Don Robinson next month.

employee complaints

Breaks too short and staff room facilities are inadequate. Employees must share a few chairs, a fridge and microwave. Staff rooms are far from workplace. Cast members must spend half of break going back and forth

Manpower is inadequate and working hours too long - between 10 and 13 hours. Shift confusion. Frequent roster changes, short notice for cancelling shift, and late shift followed by morning one

The 45-minute lunch period is unpaid; staff at catering outlets are not provided free meals

Poor shuttle services and little transport allowance

Poor morale as management fails to address grievances