August 15 is said to be the day of liberation for the whole of India. It is our Independence Day and we Indians always celebrate the day with great pride!!
But this year, the day is slated to bring with it, a certain gloom and disharmony in the film and TV industry.
The reason for this is that The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has threatened to create a blackout of television yet again!! The FWICE has sent notice to Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), The Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd, Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC) and Western Indian Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA).
The demand of FWICE is that the workers’ body gets the needed salary increments and a regime of working only for 8 hours shifts every day. Also, there is a demand for better health and sanitation requirements on the sets.
As per reports in media, these above-said demands had been put forward in the year 2015. However, the demands have not been met even in 2017. Hence, there is a need for these demands being meted out by the Producers’ body.
However, we have got to hear that IMPPA (Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, has in the last few days sent out a letter to the FWICE in reply to their query, stating that their demand is baseless and will never be adhered to. In the letter, the IMPPA has given the Producers the liberty of indulging in ‘free trade’ wherein they are free to get their own workers to continue with the daily stream of shoot in case the regular workers do not turn up for shoot. IndianWikiMedia.com has got a copy of the letter duly signed by Mr. T.P. Aggarwal, President, IMPPA. You can get to read the copy of the letter here.
As of now, it looks as though there will be a strike that will happen from the night of 14 August that will probably create a blackout of television!! Having said this, a point to be noted here is that the last few times when such a strike had been called for, most in the workers body remained with the Producers and continued work smoothly.
We at IndianWikiMedia.com talked to few Producers in the industry and the common point that we got to hear is that, “The workers are very happy with the Producers and the wages that they are getting. Even in the challenging time that TV has faced of late, workers have got an increase of 7.5 percent. Also, there have been quite a lot of advancements that have happened with regards to the sanitation, health and safety aspects. So there is nothing that should prevent the workers from working. Actually speaking, every worker earns up to Rs. 25,000 every month. So what is the problem? Above all, every worker has a life insurance under his name. Mishaps can happen anywhere, even at our homes. This does not mean that there is a lack of infrastructure. There is a habit of only blaming the Producers in order to spoil their images. But the reality is not what has been said.”
We buzzed Producer Shyamashis Bhattacharya, and he said, “Please talk to JD Majethia as he is the representative from the TV Producers who is supposed to talk to the press.”
We later buzzed Producer JD Majethia who said, “We are discussing internally. We have already spoken with our lawyer and awaiting his reply. We will very soon reply to them. Workers are happy with the 7.5 percent hike they have got. So let’s see what happens.”
A channel source adds, “See, 2015 it was decided that 11.5 percent hike will be given to workers on yearly basis. A MOU was supposed to be signed but a certain producer filed a case against the decision and the MOU never got formalised, and work proceeded. Now again the issue has caught fire and all concerned bodies including the broadcasters are negotiating and hopeful of a plausible solution.”
It is also to be noted the actor’s body CINTAA has already de-affiliated itself from FWICE. Amit Behl says, “The strike call and the press statements were given much in advance. We received a letter from FWICE yesterday asking support from us. They did not even consult us once before calling for the strike knowing every well that we are no longer affiliated to the FWICE. If they needed the support of CINTAA, which is the foremost organisation in the country of performers and actors, they should have come to us earlier. If we are a last minute thought for them then it is not correct. And Sushant Singh has correctly mentioned that it is too late for us to inform our members to cancel their shoots and change their plans. The issues they have discussed, may or may not be relevant, but they have not considered any of our issues and put in in their agenda.”
We at IndianWikiMedia.com also reached out to the FWICE President Birendra Nath Tiwari who said, “It is sad that we have been taken for granted. Initially the figure of compensation decided in 2015 was more than 11 percent now they are talking about 7.5 percent, which is unacceptable. The workers have dismal condition. They shoot for 16 hours without proper food or hygiene. They will stop working from 14th midnight. We are educating our fellow people on the importance of strike. IMPPA talks about free trade, but it is not a bhaji (vegetable) market, here it’s skilled labour. Free trade karna tha to do saal se kya kar rahe the (what were they doing since the last two years)?We don’t want to any fight or violence, we are fighting for our rights.”
On a closing note, our industry sources maintain that the popular opinion is that one should communicate, converse and look for solutions rather than going on a strike. Well, we hope that a solution is found amicably and work continues with ease.
We will keep a tab on future developments…