The strike announced by the FWICE — Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees, has brought shooting of many big-ticket Bollywood films to a screeching halt including SRK’s Dilwale, Aamir Khan’s Dangal, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjodaro starring Hrithik Roshan.
Speaking exclusively to Indian Express on the same, Kamlesh Pandey, President of of FWICE said: “Shooting in Hyderabad, Cochin, and everywhere else have stopped. Our main body, federation of All India Film Employees Confederation (AIFEC) met us a couple of days back and pledged their support. It was decided that if anyone decides to shoot outside Mumbai while the strike is in progress here, workers will strike there as well.”
When asked if any support has come forth from Aamir, SRK, and other bigwig producers, Kamlesh said: “Yes, Aamir, SRK, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowariker, Vipul Shah and all other knowlegable people are supporting us. They know why we are striking and that is why they have stopped shooting.”
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While many workers are on an indefinite strike outside filmcity, sporadic shoots are still on. Addressing the same, Kamlesh said: “Shooting is still on at some places. There is immense pressure on our workers and they have been told by producers that if you don’t come to work today, don’t ever come in future. In a country where there is a lot of unemployment, how can someone forgo his work. So, those who are shooting, we understand their situation and they are not traitors for us. They have our sympathies and neither are we going to take any action against them.”
Since morning, the protesters have been striking 150 metres away from the gate of filmcity in accordance with the rules stipulated by the Bombay High Court. Elaborating on their demands, Kamlesh said, “Our demands are simple and not unreasonable. No worker will work above their 12 hour shift. Labour laws stipulate an eight hour shift but seeing the schedule and ways of the TV industry we agreed for 12 hours. Now the producers are demanding it to be raised to 16 hours. That is inhuman. We also want every second Sunday off and will shoot only in case of an emergency. Also our workers are not paid for a period of 90 days. How do they expect us to survive?”
For the moment, the strike looks set to continue indefinitely till the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is signed which will make the producers agree to the terms mentioned above.