The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), the film industry workers’ union, which went on strike from August 15 is still going strong and four to five thousand workers are on strike and presently 16 of them are on a hunger strike. The cause, they say is the producers’ bodies like IMPPA and IFTPC and their failure to revise their remuneration. Dilip Pithwa, FWICE general secretary, says that the reason for the strike was their agreement in October 2015; we were told that we’d get 11 per cent wage hike in 2016 and another 11 per cent in 2017 which was not adhered to in the last two years and hence these extreme steps. He says that it is only the TV producers who are adamant in not giving in to their demands and they would rather bear losses than give a pittance to workers. Some of the associations like the producers body led by Ashoke Pandit are not a part of this strike because he is close to the producers against whom the workers are agitating. Pithwa adds that they didn’t complain about not getting the increment last year and now, they are only asking for 11 per cent, which most filmmakers have agreed on, but the TV producers claim that it will be difficult for them since they are not doing well. I’ve spoken to broadcasters and they have agreed to pay 7.5 per cent of the sum. The TV producers only need to shell out 3.5 per cent. Going on strike says Pithwa, was the only available option for FWICE, because the members are upset about not being taken care of by the producers. He further adds that they have lost four production executives on set due to stress. Our members work beyond working hours and don’t even get paid for their phone bills and conveyance. This stalemate should be resolved as soon as possible because shootings stopped in film city and other studios will cause grave losses to producers and that the TV channels and other producers aligned to TV will have no episodes in their bank and they will have to re-telecast their episodes on prime time which the advertisers and sponsors won’t like. At the same time the cine workers too should understand the gravity of this strike and be happy that they are paid most than other industries like whereas a spot-boy earns Rs. 25000 per month and this should be considered healthy. They should also understand that it is due to the efforts of the producers that their kitchen is running and if they desert the producers in their times of need, a wannabe producer will think twice before entering this industry. Arm twisting the producers won’t help in any way and they should come on a common platform and come to an agreeable agreement as soon as possible or it will be a death knell for this already be-leaguered industry which is going through a tough time already for various known reasons. So be sensible and agree to agree than disagree. Trade Magazine