N.J. Nair

Negotiation to revise wages begins

MACTA-Federation had threatened to disrupt shooting

Wages on a par with other languages not feasible: producers

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Braving the threat posed by a section of labourers to disrupt the shooting of films from next week, major players in the industry have started negotiations to enhance benefits for workers.

Steps have also been initiated to apprise the government of the problems facing the industry.

The Malayalam Cinema Technicians Association (MACTA)-Federation, which served strike notice from mid-May, had threatened to disrupt shootings to press for its demands.

Talks on wage pact

The Film Producers Association has started negotiations with the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) to revise the wages with effect from July 22.

According to association president G. Suresh Kumar, since the validity of the existing wage agreement will expire on July 22, the association has started negotiations with fraternal organisations which wielded considerable clout among the workers.

Some sops

Already certain sops have been announced. Producers have decided to give holiday for workers on May Day and they have also been permitted to leave the sets 30 minutes ahead of their scheduled working hours.

But the association has decided not to retract from its stance that it would not hold discussions with the federation.

Members of the association have recognised only FEFKA and it will not hold talks with any other organisation.

The association feels that it will not be feasible to comply with the federation’s demand of raising the wages on a par with the rates prevalent in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film sets.

While the maximum investment of a Malayalam film was Rs.6 crore, it was much higher for other languages. Moreover, such films had a larger audience and a wider market too.

Cinema as industry

The federation representatives who met the Chief Minister and the Labour Minister last week, had sought government intervention to end the deadlock and pave the way for bilateral talks.

They also wanted cinema notified as an industry so that workers would be eligible for benefits enjoyed by the industrial labourers.

Notification

Labour Department sources told The Hindu here that no decision has been made for issuing the notification so far. The priority was for creating an amicable milieu for talks, they said.

Decision for issuing the notification will be made only in consultation with all sections of the industry, sources said.

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