Coronavirus: HK Disneyland asks employees to go back on unpaid leave as Covid-19 third wave forced it to close last month

13-Aug-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong Disneyland has asked its employees to go back on unpaid leave from next week and continued wage cuts for some senior managers after the third wave of Covid-19 infections forced theme park to close last month.

All full-time employees, or “cast members”, had been asked to take a day’s unpaid leave every week from August 17, a Disneyland spokeswoman said on Tuesday, confirming a Post report.

A 20 to 30 per cent salary cut, introduced in April for executives at vice-president level and above, will also remain in force until further notice.

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“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on individuals and businesses around the world, including ours,” the resort’s spokeswoman said.

She said the park on Lantau Island had to temporarily close for the second time this year on July 15 and adjust its hotel services to help contain the coronavirus.

The company no longer has an income, so it’s a measure to tide over the difficult period together

Ellen Cheng, chairwoman, Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members’ Union

“While the company is carefully monitoring the situation and following health authorities’ guidance as we consider our reopening plan, we are also mindful that there is currently no clear indication of when that will be,” she said.

Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members’ Union chairwoman Ellen Cheng Lai-yee estimated around 4,000 full-time employees would be affected by the latest round of unpaid leave scheme.

While it was still unclear when the scheme would end, she believed it would depend on when the amusement park would be able to reopen later.

“Some colleagues have to support the whole family, so they don’t want to face something like this. But others understand the company no longer has an income, so it’s a measure to tide over the difficult period together,” she said.

“I call it reasonable. But if the firm is more understanding, it can show some sympathy to some staff [who need to support their family] and handle them according to the circumstances they face.”

Hong Kong’s tourism has almost ground to a halt, as visitor arrivals slumped by 90 per cent to just 3.5 million in the first half of 2020, according to provisional official figures.

Disneyland’s business performance was first dealt a heavy blow by months of social unrest last year, which saw its net loss for the 2018-19 financial year nearly double to HK$105 million (US$13.4 million), up from HK$54 million the previous year.

The theme park was closed on January 26, days after the city recorded its first coronavirus infections, and reopened on June 18 when the pandemic situation improved. But on July 15, it had to shut its gates again as the city tightened its social-distancing measures amid a third wave of Covid-19.

Cheng added theme park had asked its employees to take several days of unpaid leave in April. They were paid normally when the park reopened in June.

Local rival Ocean Park introduced a series of cost-saving measures related to its full-time workers from March, including an about 33 per cent salary cut for its executive team, and four to eight days of unpaid leave a month for assistant executives and other staff.

“The board and management of the park will continue to monitor new developments of the pandemic and carry out the necessary measures to maintain the ability to continue operating the park,” a spokeswoman said.

The famed tourist attraction shut on January 26 and reopened on June 13, but was temporarily closed from July 14.


Category: Hong Kong

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