TV strike threat: Producers expect to hire 'outsiders', talking to channels

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Even as the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) had threatened to go on strike from 15 August if their demands of salary increments and eight-hour shift for workers are not met by producers, producers say that they should have the freedom to hire outsiders.

Indian Film and TV Producers Guild CEO Kulmeet Makkar said the strike was mala fide as the matter was sub judice before the Competition Commission of India. Once the CCI decided the case, Makkar added, the FWICE could submit its demands and those would be considered.

Indian Film and TV Producers Council leader and a leading television producer JD Majethia told that 7.5 per cent increment had already been given to all the workers even in the absence of any binding legal contract. "Do you think, we (producers) would let our businesses paralyse for a mere 2.5% hike," he countered.

Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association president T P Agarwal and Makkar told that the matter was sub judice, and the FWICE demand was therefore unjustified.

Agarwal has written a detailed letter to the police commissioner for protection of producers who hire experts who are not members of FWICE.

The FWICE, which claims to have 2,50,000 members, has reportedly sent notices to the Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd, Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), and Western Indian Film Producers' Association (WIFPA). The notice has also been reportedly issued to advertising companies, television channels and the police department as well.

"We know well how to take care of all workers -- as we are aware a happy worker works well," he quipped. The workers (working in mostly air-conditioned studios) are provided the same food and comfort as a senior technician, Majethia said.

About their other demands, Majethia categorically stated that insurance was compulsory and was done at each and every shoot and set. He also said that the workers union should first get each and every worker medically checked so that he could be assigned work in accordance with his capability -- health-wise. Workers unions should also ensure qualified workers were sent on the sets. "For example, unions must ensure an electric fittings etc incharge has the required technical qualification and experience to supervise and control all operations," Majethia said.

FWICE had two years ago called a strike, demanding salary increment, eight-hour shift, accidental and medical insurance, safety and job security. Producers' bodies had agreed to fulfill the demands, but, according to FWICE, the promises remained unfulfilled.

"We are in talks with producers and channels to find a way out of this imbroglio," Majethia said. Privately, however, he said, a number of workers told them that they were willing to work and were not in favour of strike. "Opinion is widely divided among the workers' leaders," Majethia said.


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