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Disneyland California employees demand living wage

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Disneyland workers descended on the entertainment giant's US corporate headquarters on Friday to hand over a petition with over 120,000 signatures demanding a living wage, organisers said.

[LOS ANGELES] Disneyland workers descended on the entertainment giant's US corporate headquarters on Friday to hand over a petition with over 120,000 signatures demanding a living wage, organisers said.

The small delegation in Burbank, near Los Angeles, were representing "hundreds," according to the union, who had protested a day earlier at the amusement park in Anaheim,  65km south-east.

"Disney's profits do not magically appear - they're gained by the employees who work hard to ensure that visitors have a joyful experience," the petition reads.

"And these profits should be shared with the people who make them happen."

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The petition says Disney is getting a US$1.5 billion a year windfall from Republican President Donald Trump's tax cuts and complains that workers should not be forced to "sleep in their cars."

The company has offered 9,500 of its 30,000 employees - whom it says already earn above the US$11 minimum hourly rate - a phased 36 per cent increase that would see their rate rise to US$15 by 2020.

That benchmark isn't due to be set as the minimum wage until 2022, meaning Disneyland is two years ahead of the law.

Union activists argue that most Disneyland employees struggle from paycheck to paycheck, and have persuaded city councillors to consider placing a pay increase on the November mid-term election ballot.

The measure would require Disneyland and other Anaheim companies benefiting from local government subsidies to pay workers at least US$15 an hour by January 1, rising to US$18 by 2022.

Disneyland called the demand a "blatant stunt" that amounted to nothing more than "political grandstanding," and warned that such an increase would have "severe, unintended negative consequences."

The park is supported by a coalition of local business, labour and community leaders who describe the measure as a "job killer."

The Walt Disney Company's latest quarterly results showed an on-year leap in profits of 23 per cent, thanks in large part to the good financial health of its amusement parks.

A study published by Los Angeles-based liberal arts school Occidental College earlier this year stated that one in 10 Disneyland employees were homeless and that most could not afford three meals a day.

Disneyland dismisses the survey as unscientific, inaccurate and politically motivated, saying only 16 per cent of the workforce responded.

AFP

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