Television workers get 40 percent hike, to resume work Thursday

Mumbai, Nov 19 (IANS) Television workers and technicians who had called for a complete boycott of shooting earlier this month will get back to work Thursday following an agreement with the producers over an increase in their wages.

The shooting for television shows will resume Thursday and viewers can expect fresh episodes of their favourite serials from Monday onwards, industry officials said.

An agreement between the television producers and the worker's body Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has been signed keeping interests of both the parties, said FWICE general secretary Dinesh Chaturvedi.

While FWICE has much reasons to cheer following the settlement of most of its demands, producers feel that, in the ultimate analysis, the settlement has gone in favour of the workers.

Mukesh Bhatt, chairman of the producers' core committee, said that pending approval from the broadcasters, the producers will pay the enhanced wages to the workers out of their own resources.

"Our main purpose was to break the deadlock and we have finally done that," he said.

As per the new rates fixed, the temporary television workers will now get a 10 percent daily wage hike. But other workers and technicians who are employed for longer periods will now get a monthly salary.

The salary of a spotboy will now be Rs.15,300, a light man will get Rs.16,800, an electrician will take home Rs.18,800, a carpenter will earn a pay packet of Rs.16,800 and a sound recordist's monthly salary will be Rs.40,000.

"The wages of other technicians and artistes will be as per their individual agreement with the producers. As per the agreement signed, everybody will benefited and they will get 40 to 45 percent more than what they used to get earlier. This we have mutually agreed to," said FWICE president Dharmesh Tiwari.

Said Dheeraj Kumar, CEO of Creative Eye: "Generally, the shooting for the episode of a serial scheduled for Monday evening prime time telecast starts on Thursday. But if the channels insist on having a bank of episodes ready before starting their telecast, then the viewers will have to wait till Nov 30."

The producers suspended the shootings from Nov 7 after the broadcasters turned down their plea for an increased outlay for their programmes under production to partially meet the demands of the television workers.

Instead, broadcasters served an ultimatum to settle their dispute with the workers over their wage hike by Nov 21.

This resulted in the depletion of the episode banks of the soaps and broadcasters had to re-run old episodes, much to the disappointment viewers as well as advertisers.

Though the broadcasters have refused to divulge the quantum of their monetary loss during the strike, industyr sources say the combined loss of channels during this period could be in the range of Rs.250 to Rs.300 million.

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