Film shooting in and around Hyderabad was affected on Wednesday, June 22, as more than 20,000 Telugu film workers began a protest demanding a hike in wages. Many cine workers laid siege to the office of the Telugu Film Industry Employees Federation in Jubilee Hills to demand a 45% 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 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% hike but it was immediately not clear if they would 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-19 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 Film Industry Employees Federation. The protest affected the production of about 20 films, including Chiranjeevi's Bhola Shankar, Prabhas' Salaar and Ram Charanâ€™s RC 15.
Responding to the strike, Telangana Minister for Cinematography Talasani Srinivas Yadav said, â€śThe excuse of COVID-19 has been given for about three-and-half years. Itâ€™s true that there are difficulties, but this issue must be resolved immediately.â€ť When asked if the government would intervene in resolving the issue, the Minister said that the matter of wages is usually negotiated between the workers and the Film Chamber, through mutual discussions. â€śThey (Film Chamber) had asked for a yearâ€™s time. Itâ€™s been six months past that deadline. So the workers are demanding a hike immediately. I hope this is done soon,â€ť the Minister said.