Mumbai/Pune: The members of Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) have gone on an indefinite strike from August 16. Owing to the strike, the shooting of several films and TV shows/serials has been affected but overall, shoots went on smoothly. Around 1.5 lakh workers and employees affiliated to FWICE have joined the strike which was held in front of Film City, Mumbai.
Birendra Nath Tiwari, President of FWICE, said, “We have 4 to 5 demands. We want an 8-hour shift, minimum wages for workers, we want the producers to sign a contract with the workers so that they will get proper payment, healthy and safety measures should be drawn properly and we want a proper bathroom and drinking water facilities. Workers have been doing shifts for 18-20 hours and many suffer heart attack and various health issues because of that. We will not call off the strike till the producers give us in writing that they have accepted our demands.”
The strike was joined by spot boys, technicians, junior artistes, cameramen, art directors, set designers, style photographers, fight masters, makeup persons, dress suppliers besides others. When Sakal Times spoke to Tiwari, he said, “Right now, we have 5,000 workers standing with us. We had more people supporting us in the morning.”
Sources close to the union said that shooting of Amitabh Bachchan’s Kaun Banega Crorepati and several shows of Balaji Telefilms had been cancelled.
But industry sources maintained that the strike was a no show. Sources said, “The union has been claiming that TV shows and films were affected by the strike but that isn’t the case. The shooting of most of the shows went on smoothly. In fact, several workers hadn’t joined the strike. It looked like they had got outside crowd to make the strike look like a big hit.”
But Tiwari said that people have joined them by will. “How can we force them because we are fighting for their goodwill,” he said.
Speaking on the issue, JD Majethia, Co- Chairman, Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), said, “The union has informed us that they will go on strike on August 16 and 17 even if we agree to their demands so we cannot approach them for talks. In spite of the strike announcements, shooting at most of the locations have happened smoothly. Hats off to the police management at the city and other places. We are still figuring out their exact unfulfilled demands as most of their demands have been taken care of by the producers. Their major demand of increment for workers’ salaries have been met in such challenging times for producers. The union wants an eight-hour shift for the workers and we are fine with that because we will be able to give employment to two workers in place of one, who can work for eight hours each and we will be able to work for more hours smoothly. We will accordingly decide on their wages but if they want workers to work for eight hours only, then the payments obviously will be on pro-rata and they should first check with workers if they will agree to this. We always believe in smooth and peaceful working environment for all.”
He further added, “As for the contracts, we cannot sign a contract with them as we have no authority to do so because we are waiting for a judgement by Competition Commission of India. If we sign the contract, it will be punishable. We had also given seven and a half per cent hike to the workers even though the TV industry is going through difficult times.”