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Strike hits film shootings

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: It has been over 10 days, but there appears to be no sign of an end to the impasse on the struggle between the Andhra Pradesh Film Industry Employees Federation and the Telugu Film Producers Council (TFPC).

Since employees struck work demanding higher wages, film shootings have come to a halt across the State. Over 14,000 people working in 24 different crafts of the industry are still holding on. Production of 17 Telugu films continues to be affected and they include big-budget productions starring the likes of N. Balakrishna, NTR, Prabhas and Mahesh Babu too.

Interestingly, meetings between representatives of the coordination constituted on behalf of the AP Film Chamber of Commerce and the federation in the past week did succeed. “Members of 17 of the 24 crafts organisations have agreed to the increased wages ranging roughly around 33 per cent,” said K.C. Sekhar Babu, Secretary, AP Film Chamber of Commerce.

“However, people belonging to the seven other crafts are holding on, demanding an increase in wages, of anywhere between 80 to 100 per cent,” he said.

The strike, demanding higher wages, has come at a time when producers and directors are racing against time to get their movies ready for a summer release. Initially producers agreed to the hike one craft at a time. But with some of the unions continuing to be stubborn, producers are exasperated too and on Saturday, they threw up their hands and said there was nothing else they could do except wait for the impasse to end.

“The last hike in wages was effected in 2007. As it is, the hike should have happened last year. But our repeated requests were taken lightly. Everyone knows that the prices are skyrocketing and working on daily wages, there's no way we can continue working at the same wages,” said K. Rajeswar Reddy, APFIEF secretary.

Currently, a junior artiste gets Rs. 365 for 12 hours of work, for a dance or a stunt sequence, while a light boy gets Rs. 350. While these are the existing rates for a normal day's work, wages differ for specialised work, depending upon the effort required for a song or the degree of physical difficulty for a fight sequence.

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