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Surprise Bonuses, Why They're Only a Start, and Why Wages Are a Serious Issue


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  • [Other] Surprise Bonuses, Why They're Only a Start, and Why Wages Are a Serious Issue

    I previously wrote about OLC management's unfair treatment of rank and file cast, but there's some positive news. Near the end of last month, most cast had unannounced bonues added to their most recent "paychecks" (they're paid through direct deposit). The bonus amount was up to 50,000 yen (roughly $500), but only those who worked nearly the maximum number of hours allowed and had a spotless record received the full amount. (Set amounts were deducted for each time one arrived late to work or had leave early, for example.) It's something, but is really only a token gesture when it's considered that cast are paid around 1000 yen an hour, while they live in one of the most expensive places in the world.

    It would be different if OLC was struggling, but last year they made over $400 million in NET PROFIT. Bonuses are nice, but I hope soon they will re-learn that paying a fair wage is not only morally the right thing to do, but it will mean the retention of better and experienced cast, attract more higher quality new applicants, and result in a happier, better motivated workforce. (It means a less desperate/more honest one, too. The sad problem of cast stealing from cast, from lockers, etc., continues to escalate.) Paying a better wage is good for everyone. Happier, more experienced, and better suited cast translates to a safer environment, as well as better guest experiences, which equals more repeat visits and an increase in the most effective and, ultimately, the most inexpensive form of advertising: positive word of mouth.

    There's also a privilege that the cast of the Tokyo Disney Resort deserve: Their ID should double as a nenpa (annual pass). (They currently receive only two park tickets a quarter and the occasional tickets at the opening of a new attraction.) An unlimited one wouldn't be practical, as many cast are kyara ota*, dan*, and naka* ota. It's unfair to guests on busy days to clog the shows and meet and greets with cast viewing a production or meeting a character for the two-thousandth time. I think roughly one third of the days in a year should be blocked out. I won't list them, as they're rather obvious. Even allowing admittance on only half the days in a year would go a long way toward making cast feel valued by management and substantially reduce turnover.

    In addition to the basic fairness and positive effect on morale that greatly increasing complimentary access to the parks will have, it will also allow a greater number of them to become more familiar with the parks beyond their immediate work locations, putting them in better positions to answer guest questions and provide advice. While there will be reduced revenue when some cast no longer purchase a nenpa, much of it will be offset by increased food sales (it's amazing the way so many of these girls can put it away) and the hardcore cast will still buy one to have 365 day access.

    Turnover is an extremely serious issue which has not been addressed by OLC due to its increasing focus on profits. The low wage OLC pays to cast is not attracting enough applicants. Virtually every location of all types at boths parks is shorthanded. This includes attractions like Space Mountain, Big Thunder, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and many other locations which require well suited, well trained, diligent cast in order to maintain safety. Plain and simple, OLC is playing roulette with life and limb so they can continue to reap the financial benefits of greater profits and a higher stock value. They're also gambling with the reputation of the resort. OLC does a thorough job of hushing up news that they don't want to get out. For example, a gentleman died of natural causes (heart failure) a couple of weeks ago in Adventureland. He was just walking along one moment and the next he was gone. Cast in the area responded valiantly, draining the batteries of two AEDs trying to save him. (When there's a park that attracts millions of visitors a year, sad things like this are going to happen.) Of course, like many other incidents before it, it wasn't reported in the media. But, like the axle failure a few years ago at Space Mountain and the incident a few months ago at Raging Spirits, even OLC can't stop news from getting out when something happens on an attraction. Those made the news in a prominent way, even without a serious injury or death involved. Especially when it's considered who the majority of guests at the resort are, I believe it's safe to expect that if a serious incident occurs involving a guest (or guests) who is playing by the rules, the coverage and the backlash will be substantial. Put simply, it would scare the girls away, costing OLC more than what it's pocketing by not paying responsible wages, etc., while permanently damaging the reputation of the resort. I see this as the prime example of the dysfunction occurring within OLC's current management; a dangerous course of action which, ultimately, benefits no one.

    * These terms are in common use by individuals who use them to describe themselves and others.

    kyara = character
    otaku = fanatic Their character of choice is the driving force that brings them to the resort and they will view and have contact with that character at virtually every opportunity.

    dan = dancer - short for "dancer otaku" - one who become familiar and obsessed with particular dancer (usually non-Japanese) who performs in a particular shows and/or parade. The dan often wait for their dancer at a specific location at Maihama Station, knowing when their shifts end and briefly intercepting them on their way home.

    naka = short for "nakami," "inside" in Japanese - otaku who become familiar and obsessed with particular costumed performers. The performers faces can't be seen, so naka ota identify them by their style of movement.

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