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Striking workers cheer as Disney parades cancelled

Sunday, 27th December 2009 at 22:33

Strikes at Disneyland ParisThe smile when you walk through the park gate, the "Bonjour!" when you walk into a boutique, the friendly conversation in your local language when you check into your hotel. Disneyland Paris is full of lovely people, right?,

Unfortunately not. As DLP.info reported on Wednesday, 23rd December, members of the cfdt, CFTC and UNSA unions began striking at 7.00am — on one of the busiest days of the year for the resort — citing the lack of dialogue from the resort following their opposition to the apparent “zero Euro” wage increase for 2010 and other issues.

So what did they do, simply refuse to show up for work? Take their placards and flags round to the management offices, of the people who actually make these decisions? Of course not. They didn’t even, in the grand Disneyland Paris tradition, set up camp on the neutral resort hub, amongst the nuisance street sellers.

Strikes at Disneyland Paris
Picture: DLP.info

In a shocking day of the resort’s history, the striking Cast Members went straight inside the parks — complete with giant banners, flags and signs. It gets worse: Come 2.15pm, Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars didn’t go out as announced. Instead, guests who had paid their entrance fee and waited patiently for the show were treated to a storming of the stage by the union members. At 5pm over in Disneyland Park, the parade route didn’t see Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade pleasantly passing by but a noisy mob of striking workers, blocking the parade route.

Reports state that not a single member of the Entertainment, Parades and Characters (EPC) department took part in the strike, but the casts were kept from performing for guests by the workers blocking the route. Managers no doubt also wanted to avoid any kind of stand-off, where the floats might enter the park but be stopped halfway.

But the awful thing is, now that the videos have started appearing on YouTube and other sites, it’s not even the bizarre sight of these striking workers inside the parks that’s most shocking. It’s how plainly heartless and repulsive they are with it. Skip to 3 minutes 20 seconds into this video found by Daniel on magicforum:

Yes, you heard right. When the announcement comes that Disney’s Stars ‘n’ Cars has had to be cancelled because they’ve taken over Place des Stars (an announcement perhaps never heard before with our hardy, good Cast Members), they cheer.

And all sympathy is lost.

Perhaps these people are forgetting a few things. First, there may well be just as “poorly paid” visitors in the audience, who are now having their expensive trips ruined. Second, Disneyland Paris is still in a very precarious state. Despicable though that proposal of a “zero Euro” pay rise really is, storming the parade routes will only serve to give an even more unprofessional image of the resort to thousands of guests — whether they saw it first-hand, heard about it from a friend or saw it on YouTube. In turn, people will continue to think “Disneyland Paris isn’t ‘proper’ Disney”, that it’s not worth a visit, that it isn’t worth returning. The resort will lose more money and they’ll be even less likely to get a better wage.

Nevertheless, the CFDT union has reported that talks have now reopened with the resort, so we shouldn’t be seeing such a display again. This situation will, one must hope, be particularly embarrassing for relatively new CEO Philippe Gas, not least because his history with Disney is based entirely in human resources — his former job title being Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

What’s the other thing the striking workers didn’t show much regard for? Oh yeah, their colleagues. Those friendly, smiling, helpful — and equally hard-worked — Cast Members who continued on, having to pick up the pieces of disappointed guests, complaint forms and return tickets.

Thankfully, the Entertainment cast of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade did their own bit of storming the park: All the dancers and characters stayed in costume and, once the scene had calmed, arrived on Town Square and Central Plaza at 5.30pm to give guests the best chance they could of a meet ‘n’ greet with that true, professional Disney Magic.

Picture: DLP.info; Video: chrissouille08.

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  • This is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting….as with the post strike it’s us who suffer. But this is worse because, as you say, most of these guests will have been saving and looking forward to their holiday for a long time. This behaviour could not be further from Disney magic – terrible!

  • William Jarman  28th December 2009, 00:57

    I agree ….. This behaviour is truly unbelievable and i don’t mean that in a good way which is the way i would normally use that word when talking about disneyland. Absolutely outragous behaviour. it is unacceptable. :(

  • Chris Schofield  28th December 2009, 08:28

    The world over is full of people who had no increase in salary this year including a large percentage of the assembled guests for this farce. Good job cast members you have just ruined a lot of people’s (and children’s) Christmas’s there, and for what… oh yes nothing it’s a recession you see and the company you work for is actually losing money not making it!
    Good bye France I’ll be spending my next trip in Florida.

  • I totally agree with the Cast Members, because they are workers, and not slaves. Walt Disney is a rich enough Company to be able to afford salary increases and injecting money in the Paris Resort. Anyway, when they started the expansion of WDS a few months ago, they said they knew that the park will be losing money for a few years more due to the cost of this expansion.

  • They should be thankful they’re still in work, my husband was given a payrise last year and then gave it back in order to save jobs, despite over two hundred redundancies where he works and still being on short time, he feels thankful, as do I that he is still working. What difference do they think it will make by punishing guests at the resort?

  • It seems to me the only way for DLRP to survive and avoid more of these insane strikes would be if the entire cast were replaced by Americans.

    I read somewhere else that not only are the objecting to the “zero euro” (many many professions around the world have had no pay rise this year), but they’re also demanding better working conditions (ie less hours for same money I assume?) and double their current shift premiums?

    Its unbelievable that so many families that have had an incredibly year who will have scrimpted and saved for a magical christmas trip will have had it ruined. That will no doubt be many many guests who will not be returning. Why risk it? when for a little more you get the true American Disney experience?

  • it was our last day of our holiday there and it scared our daughter to see them demonstrating outside ticket hall in the morning ,they were kicking bins,sounding horns etc and she associates disney with safety .
    the staff were great getting you past it quickly but it left a sour taste.
    we told our daughter it would be ok in park as they wouldnt come inside oops! we were wrong on that one>

  • I would love to work there.. No matter what my salary is…
    And indeed.. they should be happy to have a job at all…

    But ofcourse.. we shouldn’t be mad at them..;-)

  • When talking about “heartless people”, we should not forget to mention the upper ranks at Disney – as much as I love Disney parks, I just cannot completely ignore the fact that Disney is one of the more ruthless and greedy companies out there. Also, I´m sure that DLP management could have avoided that embarassing situation easily – they just got what they asked for.

  • KASSIS Benjamin  28th December 2009, 17:28

    It is really shameful on the part of cast-member to show a picture like that to visitors. Visitors come to the park to clear his head and not feel the conflict between Walt Disney Compagny and them.

  • they should sack the lot of them,The way the economy is they shoould be thankful that they have a job,
    most of us are in the same position,and save damm hard to try and have a break,to be greeted with that,you should be disusted with yourselfs

  • I think the overall tone of this article is uselessly overstated: terms like “shocking day”, “awful thing” and “plainly heartless and repulsive” are definitely too much. OK, seeing this in a disney theme park is sad, but let’s always remember magic is made by people and people need to be paid fairly, especially when they really make the difference and face a hard work, as it happens to be for a disney theme park. I know it’s a bad show, but I prefer having a bad show for one day then being surrounded by people forced to smile and underpayed. I’m sure they got no answer from their management about their issues and resorted to this extreme measure to get some proper light cast on their situation. I also find unacceptable eewan’s “They should be thankful they’re still in work” kind of position. Having a work doesn’t imply one must be forever grateful and all-indulgent to the one who pays me. Thank God, we still can see something like this happening. Providing the illusion of a carefree environment is a tough job and the people doing it must be fairly treated and paid.

  • I cannot believe that this has occured in Disney. How disappointing…….. have they not heard of the world recession….. most people who still have jobs haven’t recieved pay increases and for those who have lost their jobs in the last eighteen months would be delighted to have secure employment. To ruin their guests holidays and to mark a child’s experience in Disney is unforgiveable. As disney fans I would have been shocked if my little boy was subjected to this behaviour. It does raise the question about security in the resort if they could pass with all these flags etc… maybe this area needs attention??

  • Okay, here it is. I have worked there for 4 years and I have never had such an easy job. Saying hi, saying bye, explaining, counting, checking harnasses…easy money! Weird to get 1100 euro’s for just doing that, but I did get paid for doing this easy job. Before I started that easy job, I read my contract and it officially said I was getting paid for an easy job. Wonderful.

    So no reason to strike, cause I signed for that myself. I must say: I worked at attractions. I have seen though, so many collegues around me, doing half the job what is in the contract. And when somebody changes a policy or rule, they are the people who shout out the loudest.

    Disney Cast Members should look into the mirror and look into their contracts and if not satisfied…they should leave Disney and go work in a factory. Then they learn how to work hard for lesser money, before crawling back to their easy job at the greeter of Space Mountain.

    But hey…I’m Dutch…we people with Germanic and Viking blood are used to work hard. That’s why we survive an economical crisis. It never should have been built in France.

  • @Massimo – Uselessly overstated. Just like storming into a park full of children and ruining something innocent members of the public had paid good money for. Was this really necessary for their cause? It seems like an absolute last resort.

    Need to be very clear: This article isn’t saying they shouldn’t fight for better working conditions (they absolutely should fight the execs on their huge salaries), just that the way they went about it seems entirely thoughtless, not to mention a bad way to gain the respect of the public who actually pay their wages!

    Both sides should be embarrassed. Hopefully Euro Disney SCA and Mr Gas have been left suitably red-faced, but it shouldn’t take this from their workers.

  • This was bad.I don,t know what I would have done if they had ruined my two girls visit,I’d probally have given them something to really complain about. Ironically though,this display is a much called for injection of french culture to DLRP.Citizens of France and the USA vie with each other for maximum distrust of authourity and the same distrust that supports gun culture in the US supports public protest at a level other countries do’nt experience.I well remember returning from DLRP in 1997 when the french farmers took over the motorway for 6 hours.

  • This is awful, prepostourous (sorry about Spelling)

    Now even the Happiset place on Earth is effected!

  • Not so long ago , the union people in the US were also (but quietly, probably better handled by Disney execuitives) in the parks to distribute flyers… (http://www.examiner.com/x-32785-Santa-Ana-Disneyland-Examiner~y2009m12d18-Unions-bring-their-message-to-the-streets-of-Disneyland)…
    Don’t forget that behind the magic , Disney is a business and it’s all about money !

  • These people should be grateful they have a job. I think everyone of the strikers should be fired and then maybe they can see if a “zero euro” wage increase strike was worth it or not.
    These people are lower than human filth. Ruining the holidays & magic of paying customers with no remorse is beyond belief. What’s even more ironic is that there was little to no security around. What if something happened? I guess they would strike with the term “unsafe working environment.” Oh well…leave it to the French…

  • @DLRP Today – “Both sides should be embarrassed” you said, and I couldn’t agree more. That said, it seems to me the article didn’t have this position about the whole situation at first, but maybe it’s just me.
    @tin – I understand your concerns. As a suggestion though, it would probably have helped to get your daughter away from the protesting people and explaining that some people sometimes don’t like their job and protest. I’m sure you would have find the right words to explain that to you child and that she would have understood.
    That said, let’s not make a big deal of a dispute like thousands in the world between unions and companies, even though it happened to touch our beloved company, wich by the way has its share of bad actions.

  • I have just watched some of the video and it is awful. That announcement that is so familiar to anyone that has seen a parade at Disneyland Paris is altered to announce the cancellation of a parade.
    To me Disneyland isn’t real life. That’s why I don’t mind spending €10 on a Burger and Chips. It’s a place where I don’t need to worry about the mundane things in life. Whatever sympathy I may have had for the strikers is lost the moment they ruin the magic in the park.

  • Oh cry me a river and then sail away. I haven’t had a pay increase in 2 years. So much for the smug European attitude of being more sophisticated than Americans. And why do some idiots keep referring to “better working conditions”. It’s all about being paid more and that’s it.

  • @Massimo – I don’t think the tone of the article is exaggerated. That behaviour on the part of the union is unacceptable. People spend their money to have a perfect day where they completely forget about their everyday problems and the outside world. They pay to live a dream and it’s disgusting that what they get is a bunch of idiots cheering because they’ve managed to have the parade cancelled. And no, they have no reason whatsoever to protest. The person who said they should be thankful for their job is perfectly right. My boyfriend has been looking for a steady job FOR ALMOST 10 YEARS and has only managed to get a bunch of short-term jobs. This year he hasn’t even been able to get one. A lot of interviews and nothing. All employers say the same: there’s crisis and they can’t (or don’t want to) hire anybody new. They hire very few people and for very short periods. My boyfriend would sell his soul to get a steady job. He’d be ready to work 10 hours a day 7 days a week, if necessary. And I’m not exaggerating. I mean every single word. But of course, those people all have a steady job, so they’ve completely forgotten how depressing and frustrating it is not to have one. If they aren’t satisfied with their wages, why don’t they quit and look for a new job? They would have to face up to the extreme difficulty in finding a job in this economy. And since most probably they wouldn’t be able to find one, they’d regret even just the thought of protesting to get a raise.

    What’s more, I’m a seasonal Cast Member, I work there during the holidays and as hard as working in a shop at Disneyland Paris might be, the wage is fair, the work conditions are good and the environment is nice. There aren’t many other jobs you can say that about.

    I think we Europeans should start looking at the US as a model for working, too. I know that over there workers have almost no right and unions are almost non-existing and I’m not saying that it’s right and that we should duplicate it here. But here workers are the opposite and they’re given so many rights that they sometimes think they should get paid without actually having to do anything. What’s worse, they keep on asking for more. They constantly ask for raises while they keep on doing the same thing. And that’s horrible, too. Because all those privileges workers are granted make it much more difficult for unemployed people to find a job. Employers simply refuse to hire new people, if they have to grant them all that laws require them to. I think a compromise between the American and the European conditions should be reached. None of the two situations is good.

    Then, I agree on that the management has its faults, too. In the business world, no matter if the company makes a profit or loses money, the top managers earn ridiculous wages and bonuses and they get astounding raises every single year. Obviously, this is unfair. They’re talking crisis, but the situation is affecting only the average worker, certainly not the top manager, who keeps on earning unbelievable sums. That should change, too. But it still doesn’t justify what those Cast Members did, especially considering the situation of the unemployed. It’s like making fun of them.

  • I think it’s disgraceful behavior, not on Disney’s part, but on the union and the workers. They should be grateful that they have jobs! If I was Disney, I’d sack them undeserving lot and hire in new staff who are actually in need of jobs.

    Disgusting show Disney staff, you should be ashamed.

  • I can understand that they want more money. But people have paid for a pleasant stay and the kids wanted to experience something beautiful.
    Sorry, for my poor English knowledge. :/

  • Now i see why i witnessed a member of staff, at a dlrp fast food outlet, not put my order through the till, or swipe my annual pass for discount and charged a straight 20 euros!!!! because of the low wages. But we still love the place and i know this was an isolated incident even though when i worked this out later on i had also been robbed of a couple of euros. 99% of the cast members do an excellent job and if this happens next time we visit ill have the guts to challenge it.

  • Im sorry but thats pathetic! They should be grateful with what they get! They’re working in Disneyland for crying out loud!! I would love to work there regardless of the pay but at the same time I want to be one of the entertainers not one of the cast members

  • my young childs magical mickeys party was overshadowed by greedy selfish people we queued for half-hour in the cold my son just recovering from being very ill then a long wait for moteurs stunt show to be invaded and then halted by a crowd of yobs who wouldnot look out of place in a riot scenes we have not whitnessed at many a english league match walt disney must be turning in his grave i worked hard to save up for christmas hoilday so thanks and a happy new year to the staff who did care

  • It’s simple: if you don’t like the conditions, leave! As I said before: go work in a factory for a while. I did it: the pay was louzy and the job was hard. And even there I didn’t complain, cause I knew what I was doing before I started this job.

    Same as in Disney….leave if you don’t like it and choose: doing a hard job for a shitty salary or sitting home unemployed? Than Disney ain’t that bad. Of course there is room for improvement as in all companies. But than negociate…and don’t ruin the magic that you have to work it every day, don’t ruin peoples magic who did work hard to loose all sorrows for a couple of days.

    Disney has almost been going bankrupted a couple of times. Maybe one day it will, what will the 8.000 employees than say? And what will happen to the thousands of jobs in the area? Do these protest people really wanna be responsible for that?

  • You shouldn’t be a cast member if your after money. “Disneyland is a work of love” – Walter Elias Disney. You should only work for Disney if you love what your doing, just like the US cast members, Walt would be appauled at this, i think that Robert Iger should make the decsision to totaly buy the whole of Euro Disney S.C.A and apply a strict training and audition process for castmembers, and bring the resort under the same system of control as WDW and DLR.

  • I think it’s shameful, many people across the globe have been struggling financially – I myself have not had a pay rise for 2 years and was made redundant from a job in one part of the company I work for last year – I was one of the lucky ones in that I was offered another lesser position which I snapped up! I think that it is poor that they had to behave this way in front of children whose Disney dreams are guaranteed to now be shattered, and if I had been there I would have been horrified that I had saved hard all year just to witness that. I am going next week and I know that the knowledge of this behaviour will tarnish my holiday spirit somewhat – knowing that the staff don’t really want to be there spoils the magic.

  • People have a right to strike, but this completely unacceptable. Hundreds of disappointed children having there christmas ruined. Disneyland paris has struggled to make money since it opened, the staff should think themselves lucky they still have work. The recession has hit a lot of europe, many have been made unemployed. I myself work in public service & have recieved a pay cut. This has to be expected in hard times. There are hundreds of people who would take there jobs for less pay!!!

  • This kind of thing makes me embarassed to be French. We’re just way too spoilt!

  • I agree with Joe Soap. The vast majority of strikers were French! Whether it be the train network, bus network or Disney you have to stop striking at what seems to be all the time.
    The French already work the least hours in Europe at 35 per week with more public holidays than much of the EU.
    Your employment contract was signed and intialed on every page before you started work.

    The only people to get any money from this was the unions, who only care about themselves, not their members, not Disney and they don’t care if you receive your payrise as long as they get their subscription fee from you!
    Wake-up Frenchies and stop embarrassing your country.

  • I’m sorry that this upset so many people, there are 14000 Cast Members at Disneyland Paris and these IDIOTS are a minority… Please don’t judge everyone based on the actions of so few. I have worked here since 1992 and it IS a labour of love, you don’t do it for the money. It’s a shame that some people who work for Disney think that they are public servants “fonctionnaires” this is a privately owned company that can fix salaries as they wish, if you don’t like it then LEAVE!!! We don’t need this kind of scum, giving us all a bad name!!

  • I was there that day, too. Since we are annual passport owners, we have seen the parades before. We were in the Studios when the strike started. Being Americans but not understanding the French language, it was just today when I saw this posting that I figured out what all of the shouting was about. As I looked around and was unable to explain to my girls what was happening, I just thought of all the people that had saved up their money for a wonderful family trip and got this. How disappointing – I felt sorry for the people who, unlike us, it was probably a once in a lifetime trip but I was also embarrassed for the cast and crew who had to deal with this.

  • Wow i feel incredably lucky as this happened literally the day after we left. It probably would have been a bad ending to the holiday – but I dont think it would have been the end of the world like some people make it out to be.

    Yes, many of us agree the CMs have the right to strike but the way they went about it was wrong. However, this begs the question – would a strike anywhere else have simply just been ignored? Does anyone know a history of the CM’s strikes and weather or not they were successful? This could help us understand why the CMs went to such extreme lengths.

  • I was working that day, as a performer, and I was due to be in the two parades that were cancelled. It was chaotic because the strikers were targeting department and it seemed highly likely that they would disrupt our floats. We weren’t allowed to get into any minivan or bus without checking the driver’s identity first. The cast of the Snow White show were very nearly ambushed by the protesters and had to run backstage. However, we all wanted to go out and perform and our managers didn’t want to disappoint the guests. The cast of Stars and Cars went out for a meet and greet after the strikers left the Studios and the entire cast of parade took over Central Plaza when the main park was safe. I can safely we all tried extra hard to interact with all the guests to make up for their disappointment. I did see some very scared looking children in the morning but managed to get a smile back on their faces. By the afternoon, everyone just looked pleased to see Christmas elves and ostrich girls running round the park, as well as all the Disney characters. If you were there that day I am so sorry about the disruption caused and I hope you feel that all the characters and dancers went some way toward making up for it.

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