Bollywood still groans under cash crisis
The cash crisis sparked by the overnight demonetisation of high value currency notes has dealt a blow to Bollywood with daily wage workers struggling to keep the fire in their kitchens burning
Riteish Deshmukh on set. Pic for representational purpose
The cash crisis sparked by the overnight demonetisation of high value currency notes has dealt a blow to Bollywood with daily wage workers struggling to keep the fire in their kitchens burning. The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), which controls 22 unions covering various crafts, held a meeting to discuss various modes of payment to daily wage earners.
FWICE general secretary Dilip Pithva said, "A few suppliers and producers are now issuing 'group cheques'. Workers have been clubbed into groups. The cheque is made out in the name of one worker, who withdraws the money and disburses it to the others. In our industry, many workers still don't have a bank account, but we have no choice but to make cheque payment mandatory."
Pithva said the heads of various unions under FWICE have adopted cheque payment, but a few categories like carpenters, junior artistes and other technicians are still paid on a daily basis. "A supplier, who used to distribute R1 lakh per day, is now able to withdraw Rs 50,000 a week. So, they are now merely managing to pay R50-100 as conveyance allowance to daily wage workers," he adds.
Pappu Lekhraj of the Junior Artistes' Association says cheque payment isn't a feasible solution for daily wage earners. "We are running to banks and petrol pumps to get money, but the withdrawal limit is coming in the way of payment. We have started maintaining an attendance register for all workers so that when things ease out, we will clear their payment," he says.
A member of the Mahila Kalakar Sangh, who is working on Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati and another small-budget film, alleges, "A few producers have put payment on hold while some others are continuing paying in R500 and Rs 1,000 notes. I am unable to get change for the big notes. Those who agree insist on taking a cut."
Gangeshwar Shrivastav of Film Studios Setting and Allied Mazdoor Union says workers have no choice but to accept the old notes and get it exchanged at banks. "If they don't, they might lose their jobs. But we plan to take up the issue with producers."
Producer Mukesh Bhatt says the industry's day to day operations have been crippled following demonetisation. "We can hand out cheques to contractual employees, but what about carpenters, spot boys and junior artistes? I cannot ask them to work on credit. I cannot pay them in cash because I cannot withdraw enough money. Work is suffering and many have postponed shoots. Television producers, who have to deliver daily episodes, are reeling under the crisis."
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