With the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic causing disruption throughout the world, Disneyland Paris has been forced to closed until further notice, with Disney agreeing to pay furloughed Cast Members until 19th April 2020.
But according to newspaper reports Disneyland Paris has been threatening Temporary Cast Members with early contract termination and blacklisting in an attempt to cut costs.
French newspaper Le Monde has published accusations that the Human Resources Department at Disneyland Paris are threatening temporary Cast Members with blacklisting and early contract termination in an attempt to force Cast Members to agree to a mutual contract breach.
The temporary Cast Members being targeted are amongst the 350 actors, dancers, stunt performers and technical crew that were hired for the resorts Marvel Season of Super Heroes, the Frozen Celebration, Stark Expo, and the Mickey and the Magician show.
Le Monde reports that the temporary Cast Members received an e-mail on 1st April 2020 requesting that they agree to “an amicable break” in their “employment contract.” Citing “exceptional circumstances”.
Disneyland Paris proposed “the early termination by mutual agreement” of their “employment contract from April 1, 2020.” Adding pressure, these Cast Members had very little time to consider their options, as the email requested them to “please confirm agreement before April 2, 2020.”
The Cast Members contacted their unions for assistance and the General Confederation of Labour, one of the restorts largest trade unions recommended refusal of the unilateral break demanded by Disneyland Paris.
A majority of the Cast Members agreed, and rejected Disney’s proposal.
Before this, Disney allegedly attempted to threaten Cast Members with blacklisting.
A Cast Member named Jean told Le Monde “Before this e-mail, four days ago, many of us received telephone calls from the Casting Department at Disneyland Paris to find out if they were willing to break their contract on their own,” adding that they said “If you refuse, you will be blacklisted at Disney!”
This was a complete change in approach from Disneyland Paris, according to Jean. “Disney had offered to put us in partial unemployment from 1st April”. This was a policy that was requested at a meeting of the resort’s Conseil Social et Économique (CSE), or Social and Economic Council on 29th March by the resort’s 15,000 Cast Members. Supported by the French government, the cast members were set to receive 84% of their net salary, with Disneyland Paris paying the balance, but only through to 19th April.
The Cast Members of the canceled shows were prepared to accept these partial unemployment measures, even if it would reduce their number of hours, which would be a serious blow to them, as to receive French state benefits, each artist must work a minimum of 507 hours over a period of one year.
With a large number of the temporary Cast Members refusing Disney’s offer, the resorts management could force the agreement through “without waiting.” There is a possibility that Disneyland Paris could cite “a case of force majeure,” or a chance occurrence, a legal term which would allow the company “to fire us without our consent,” Jean noted.
By doing that, the Cast Members would receive the full amount they’re owed through to the end of their contracts, which expire in June, but Disney could refuse to validate their hours, putting their status as temporary workers and state benefits at risk.
In addition, these artists working for Disney would likely lose their homes there, as some are foreigners and provincials living in Paris and “are housed in Disney Cast Member residences,” Jean claimed.
This puts the foreign Cast Members in a very difficult situation as due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic many countries have closed their borders and numerous airlines are grounded, therefore stranding them in France with nowhere to live and no income.
Disneyland Paris has been contacted for comment.
Source: Le Monde