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Film production hit as Telugu cine workers protest for wage hike

Film shooting in and around Hyderabad was affected on Wednesday as more than 20,000 Telugu cine workers began a protest demanding a hike in wages.

A large number of cine workers laid siege to the office of the Telugu Film Industry Employees Federation in Jubilee Hills to demand a 45 percent increase in wages.

Police stopped the protesters, who raised slogans in support of their demand.

The Federation president and general secretary assured the workers that a solution will be found by the evening after talks with the Film Producers’ Council.

The workers’ unions, comprising 24 crafts of cinema, have called for an indefinite strike. However, there was no clarity on whether the workers were staying away from work indefinitely. The protesters left the Federation office after an assurance by the leaders that they will ensure a 30 percent hike but it was immediately not clear if they will resume work.

The workers said they had long been demanding revision in wages in view of the increasing cost of fuel and all essential commodities. They said they extended all cooperation to the filmmakers by not pressing for their demand as the film producers were hit hard by Covid-19.

The union leaders said they were forced to launch the protest as no steps were taken to meet their demand though they had been discussing the issues with the Telugu Film Chamber for the last six months.

They said since the film industry has recovered from the impact of Covid and has produced some big hits including pan-India movies, the Film Chamber should take the initiative and address their long-pending demand.

They expressed disappointment over the lack of coordination between the Telugu Film Chamber, Telugu Film Producers Council, and the Film Industry Employees Federation.

The protest affected the production of about 20 films, including Chiranjeevi’s ‘Waltair Veerayya’, ‘Bholaa Shankar’ and Prabhas’ ‘Salaar’ and ‘RC 15’.

Meanwhile, actor Naresh found fault with the decision to go on strike. He said such a move would hit the interests of the industry which was recuperating from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. He urged the unions to hold talks to find a solution.

“A knee-jerk stop will crush not only the producers but also the lower financial strata members who are the majority. As a son of the TFI (Telugu film industry) it is my humble appeal to go slow on the lockdown & negotiate. Kindly cooperate with the federation & producers to avert a major crisis,” he tweeted.

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