Bollywood workers strike for better wages

NEW DELHI (Hollywood Reporter) - More than 100,000 Indian film industry workers in Mumbai went on strike Wednesday, protesting low wages, late payments and the employment of nonunion members in Bollywood.

A man walks past movie posters on display at a multiplex cinema in Mumbai July 23, 2007. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

The strike was called by the Federation of Western India Cine Employees, a group that encompasses more than 20 affiliate unions representing the interests of actors, technicians and camera operators, among others.

The strike was called after talks demanding better wages with film producers broke down in August.

“It is within our rights to ask for better pay,” FWICE head Dinesh Chaturvedi said. “A film worker gets 600 rupees (7 pounds) per day, and a television worker gets paid 500 rupees (6 pounds) per day,” Chaturvedi said.

Among the films halted was “Hisss,” U.S. director Jennifer Lynch’s first movie to be shot in India, which previously was titled “Naagin -- The Snake Woman.”

“We had to cancel shooting today when the strike was called, and this has disrupted our schedule,” producer Govind Menon said. “We still have a major portion of shooting to do.”

“Hisss” is being shot in English and Hindi and stars top Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat.

Association of Motion Picture & TV Programme Producers president Ratan Jain said the strike is not in the interest of the industry, having brought many films to a halt.

“Ultimately, it will lead to losses for everyone,” Jain said. “We can always sit down and talk to find a solution.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter