Bollywood workers go on strike

More than 100,000 walk out for higher wages

NEW DELHI -- More than 100,000 Indian film industry workers in Mumbai went on strike Wednesday, protesting low wages, late payments and the employment of nonunion members in Bollywood.

The strike was called by the Federation of Western India Cine Employees, a group that has encompasses more than 20 affiliate unions representing the interests of actors, technicians and camera operators, among others.

The strike was called after talks demanding better wages with film producers broke down in August.

"It is within our rights to ask for better pay," FWICE head Dinesh Chaturvedi said. "A film worker gets rupees 600 ($12) per day and a television worker gets paid rupees 500 ($11) per day," Chaturvedi said.

Among the films halted was "Hisss," U.S. director Jennifer Lynch's first movie to be shot in India, which previously was titled "Naagin -- The Snake Woman."

"We had to cancel shooting today when the strike was called, and this has disrupted our schedule," producer Govind Menon said. "We still have a major portion of shooting to do."

"Hisss" is being shot in English and Hindi and stars top Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat.

Association of Motion Picture & TV Program Producers president Ratan Jain said the strike is not in the interest of the industry, having brought many films to a halt.

"Ultimately, it will lead to losses for everyone," Jain said. "We can always sit down and talk to find a solution."
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