Film workers’ body and producers to discuss the former’s wage hike demands today to avert an impending strike
The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), which had threatened to launch a strike from May 6, will meet film producers today (Wednesday) for a discussion on its demands. In its fresh MoU, the workers' body had called for a hike in daily wages and producers allegedly did not renew the agreement. Sources say the meeting will try to find a 'middle ground' so that film and TV show shoots are not hit.
A film being shot in the city. PIc for representational purpose
FWICE president Kamlesh Pandey says, "No association affiliated to us is in favour of a strike. We are waiting for renewal of the MoU reflecting the terms and conditions and a reasonable hike in wages mutually agreed upon by the FWICE and the producer associations. It was due on March 1 and they have not responded to the new MoU until now."
The producers have refused to sign the agreement stating that an inquiry has been ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) into the functioning of the film and TV industry, and the contents of the MoU. "A case has also been filed by a film producer. How can we sign the MoU in such a situation?" asks a senior producer, who did not wish to be named.
Pandey, however, argues, "The producer associations are using it as an excuse to delay a justified, reasonable and fair increase in wages compatible with the rate of inflation."
Producers allege that the hike demanded by FWICE is about 50 per cent of their present wage, which they cannot pay as the industry is going through a rough phase with very few films working at the box office. But Dilip Pithva, general secretary of FWICE, says, "The producers should first come to the negotiation table. They are ready to pay Rs 10,000 to an actor's spot boy daily, but why can't our spot boy get Rs 18,000 per month?"
On a daily average, about 400 shoots of films and television serials take place. A source says, "If work stops for a day, the TV industry will incur a loss of Rs 5 crore. As far as films go, one cannot put a figure to it. The sets are standing and rentals have to be paid while getting an actor's date is tough on the producer's part in case the shoot is cancelled just for a day."
Rs 5 crore
Estimated loss to television industry if workers' strike stalls shoot for a day