Entertainment giant Disney is shedding a mammoth 28 000 jobs as it struggles to attract sufficient numbers of visitors to its theme parks around the world as the pandemic continues to hit it and other businesses.
Around 67% of the affected workers are part-time, which means the impact may not be as dramatic as the huge staff cuts in the airline industry, for example, where more employees are full-time.
Nevertheless, 28 000 people being cut at a company that has shown consistent growth over nearly two decades is significant.
All are believed to be US jobs
According to a report by global business news broadcaster CNBC, which quotes internal Disney documents, there is no indication yet as to what locations are the worst affected by the layoffs. But these are all believed to be in the US.
Disney operates big theme parks in Florida and California in the US, and in France, China, Japan and Hong Kong.
The parks in California are not operating at all due to the stringent COVID-19 restrictions that remain in place in the state. Florida, the home of Walt Disney World in Orlando, is open but struggling to attract sufficient visitor numbers as infections remain high throughout the state. Walt Disney World alone employs 77 000 people.
Global parks are currently open
The international parks are all operating, but must content with a range of restrictions that vary according to country.
“As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy,” Josh D’Amaro, head of parks at Disney, wrote in the memo to employees obtained by CNBC.
“For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company.
“We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects [and] furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible. However, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.”
Huge losses as pandemic hits
The division of the Disney business known as Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products is a key part of the organisation and last year contributed nearly 40% of revenue.
This year, though, it has been a different story as the pandemic has hit home.
“Disney has been haemorrhaging money since the outbreak began,” CNBC said. “In the second quarter, the company reported a loss of US$1-billion in operating income due to the closures of its parks, hotels and cruise lines. In the third quarter, the company reported a steeper loss of US$3.5-billion.”