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All India Film Employees Confederation(AIFEC),Moving Beyond Regional Frontiers- By Opender Chanana


All India Film Employees Confederation(AIFEC),Moving Beyond Regional Frontiers By Opender Chanana(Copyrights reserved)

It took nearly two decades for all existing regional federations to have an All India body  to  voice   their   collective   and   individual   concerns.  We   have   observed   that several attempts were made earlier to have such a body in fifties. However, the idea could not take shape. Not all film making centers in various states had a federation during that period.The issue of choosing between the Trade Union Act and Society’s Act for registration also generated debate in the initial years. On the other hand a few individuals associated with the movement continued to exchange ideas and thoughts on the formation of an All India body.  Amongst them were:

Mr.Manomohan Krishna,

Mr. Nimai Ghosh, Mr. Subrata Sen, Mr. Anil Sen Sharma, Mr.Salil Sen, and

Mr. Madhusudan.

That the idea of forming an All India organization of film industry’s trade unions sprouted in the soil of Tamil Nadu and the credit for being the progenitor goes to Mr.M.B. Srinivasan. In Mr. Vasant Kulkarni, he found an able supported in Mumbai. Even though the body had not been registered the first conference of the newly formed All India body of film employees took place in  Madras  in  June 1973. Mr. Madhusudan recalls the fact that the said conference is remembered by everybody with nostalgia and has become a part of the folklore of film employees struggle for solidarity.

Legend has it that doyen of Tamil Cinema and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,  Mr.  M.G.   Ramachandran served   food   to   the   delegates   attending   the conference   in   the glorious tradition   of hospitality  of   the  Southern   Region.  The Conference was a great success.

Keeping in view the fact that both the Eastern  and  Southern regions didn’t have necessary   infrastructure   to   house   the   head   office   of   the  Confederation,  it   was decided that the office of AIFEC would be located at FWICE office in Mumbai. Since FWICE was the senior most amongst all regional federations,   Mr. M.B. Srinivasan Proposed the following names for principal office bearers from Western Region:-


President                     :          Mr. Manmohan Krishna

General Secretary      :          Mr. Vasant Kulkarni

 Other members   of   the   first   Executive Committee   of AIFEC from all the   regions were:-

 Western Region : 

Mr. Hrishikesh Mukherjee,Mr. Madhusudan,Mr. Haren Bhatt and Mr. Salil Choudhary

 Southern Region :Mr. M.B. Srinivasan,Mr. Nimai Ghosh and Mr. N. Sheshadri

Eastern Region:   Mr. Subrata Sen and Mr. Salil Sen.

Out   of   the   five   seats   allotted   to Eastern   Region  in   the  National   Executive Committee,  two seats were kept open for the nominees of  Cine Technicians and Workers Union. One of the  key decisions taken  in the Conference was  to get  AIFEC registered under the  Trade Union Act.   The following representatives from Western region, Eastern   Region and  Southern   Region  were   authorised   to   submit  application   for registration:-

Mr. Manmohan Krishna, Mr. Madhusudan, Mr. Haren Bhatt, Mr. M.B. Srinivasan Mr. Nimai Ghosh, Mr. N. Sheshadri, Mr. Subrata Sen and Mr. Salil Sen.

The Steering Committee meeting of the  National Executive Committee  of  AIFE Cheld in Madras on 18-20 May, 1973 also took the following two important decisions:-i) The principal office-bearer ship should be given to each region by rotation and the said region be allowed to suggest names for the posts of the President or Vice President, General Secretary and the Treasurer. ii) The   posts   of   the   Vice   Presidents   and   Joint   Secretaries   should   go   to   the remaining two regions. The trade union movement suffered a great set back when Mr. M.B. Srinivasan and Mr. Vasant Kulkarni, considered to be architects of the constitution of AIFEC passed away.  This was the time when AIFEC had just taken off and aspired to become the official voice of all regional federations. AIFEC   wasted  no   time  in   setting   up  an   Agenda   that  focused   on   the  following important issues:-

  •  Recognition of film making as an industry,
  • Application of all pro-labour laws passed in Parliament since independence to workers in film industry.
  • Special legislation for   film   industry   keeping   in   view   its   unique character and requirements.

While it did   succeed   in  having  two  Acts  passed  in   Parliament,   the   demand   for recognition   of   film   making   as   an   industry   has   so   far   failed   to   find   favor   with successive Governments. It is to be noted that the late Mr. V.P. Sathe, Minister of Information & Broadcasting did appoint a high powered Committee to consider grant film making the status of an industry.  However, FFI (Film Federation of India), the apex body of Producers, Distributors, and Exhibitors opposed the move. In  the second  meeting   of the  National Executive   Committee  held  at  Madras  on January 26-27 1974, called upon all regional federations to launch a movement as early as possible on the following demands:-

  1. Special Legislation ,
  2. Minimum pay for   all   Crafts   with   provision   for   variable Dearness Allowance,
  3. Lessening or stipulation of contact period in the case of contractual employees engaged on lump sum payments ,
  4. Establishment of   Employment   Boards  for   all   casual  film   employees
  5. and Accident-cum-Risk Insurance for all employees involved in hazardous works such as movie stunt-men, etc.

The   representatives   attending this   meeting also  opined   that  all  preparations  for launching of the movement on the above Charter of Demands should be concluded before the end of February 1974  and  March 3, 1974 should be observed as THEALL INDIA FILM EMPLOYEES’ DAY. While the Central Government’s decision to amend the  Copyright Act  in the year   2010   that  could  result  in   writers,  lyric   writers, and   perhaps  directors getting the benefit of royalty has generated heated debate in the media, AIFEC as   far   back   as   1974   took   the   decision   to   hold   a   special   convention   on Copyright.     This   decision   was   taken   in   the   3rd meeting   of   the   National Executive Committee meeting held in Bombay on January11-12 at Mumbai. It entrusted   Mr.   M.B. Srinivasan   the   responsibility   of   meeting   Writers, Composers, Musicians, Art Directors and other bodies to prepare the basis for this convention.16th November 1978 is considered to be an important date in the history of AIFEC when it called for an all India one day token strike.

 It was the first pro-active stand that led to the arrest of many workers and its Joint Secretary Mr. K.B. Shetty . In the  7th  meeting of National Executive Committee held at  Madras  on  July 7-8,1979 various sub committees were formed to deal with matters relating to:-

i) Discharge of liabilities to the Writers

ii) Insurance against risk

iii) Standard Contractive) Protection of legal rights of Salaried/Casual Employees.

In the above referred meeting it was also decided to write to Minister of Information& Broadcasting for inclusion of all those crafts which were not included in the list of National Film Awards every year.  Mr. M. Somnath  who became the most visible face of  FWICE  was also appointed as the Executive Secretary of  AIFEC in this meeting. In   the late seventies on  account   of  political   uncertainty  AIFEC,   despite  several meetings   with   concerned   Ministers   in   the   Central   Government,   failed   to   get favorable response.  It was only on 7th January 1981 that the Central Cabinet in its meeting decided to bring in legislation in the Parliament to protect the interests and rights of certain categories of cine workers and employees of cinema theatres.

While welcoming the decision of the Central Government to introduce a  Special Legislation  to protect the interest of employees in Film Production Sector, AIFEC brought to  the  notice  of   the Government  of India,   that the  Proposed Bill  should contain within it the following provisions for it become an effective instrument for the protection   of   thousands   of   film   employees,   who,   lead   lives   of   insecurity   and uncertainty:

  • The Bill should so define a Cinema Worker that all categories working in the Production   Sector,   from   those   fulfilling   unskilled   work  to  those   undertaking skilled work, are fully and entirely covered by the protection.
  • The payment of earned remuneration to them should be fully and equitably guaranteed in accordance with the assignments they are called upon to fulfil .
  • The proposed written agreement that every producer is called upon to enter into with each worker, must be fair as per a well-defined Performa and not one-sided and inequitable .
  • The Cine Workers’ Tribunal proposed under the Bill, should be exclusive for this   Industry,   which   has   very   many   unique   features   of   employer/employee relations   and   there   must   be   a   time   limit   for   seeking   of   relief   through   the Tribunal.
  • The proposed Bill should provide for suitable protection during old age and disability.
  • The   proposed   Bill   should   provide   for   medical   benefits,   particularly   to   the thousands of film employees who are living on the border of poverty line.
  •  The proposed Bill must provide for suitable insurance and/or compensation against risks undertaken to life or limb in the course of film production work.

We have observed that several committed trade unionists have been victimized inthe past on account of their pro worker stand. In this connection it is interesting to note that late Mr. Nimai Ghose  presented a paper on Workers’ Cooperatives  to provide relief to the victimized veterans in the workers trade union movement.  Inthe 10th meeting of the NEC held at Bombay on 28-29 December, 1981, extensive discussion was held on the paper presented by him.   It was resolved that without attaching any label of AIFEC and Federations and/or unions, such a scheme on the part of the victimized or to help/assist the victimized should be encouraged and that Mr. Nimai Ghose and Mr. Madhusudan should work on setting up such production units with the support and backing of their colleagues in the trade union movement, who may be occupying positions of responsibility in different Government agencies. In the  3rd  National Conference  of  AIFEC  held on  16-18 January 1982  at  Calcutta, various issues relating to Foreign Film-making Units shooting in India were taken up for discussion.

The Conference took note of the fact that increasing number of foreign film making units  were coming to India to shoot films.  It also observed that in violation of the practice   followed   abroad,   very   few   Indian   technicians   were   employed   in   these productions, and often the information about foreign units shooting in India reached them long after they have left the country.

It demanded that all foreign film technicians of whatever craft must obtain temporary membership  of the corresponding craft in India. It also demanded that in keeping with the International practice, for technicians employed in the foreign units as many local   technicians   shall   also   be   employed   in   them   and   that   they   must   be   paid according to International practice.   The resolution passed in this connection was forwarded to the National Film Development Corporation Limited. Efforts of  AIFEC  to have its representatives on  Central Advisory  Committees  at various Centers paid dividend when in its communication dated 2nd April 1985, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting asked for panel of names of cine workers to be   included   in   the   Committee   that   advises  the   Central   Government   on   various matters arising out of the administration of the  Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act,1981.AIFEC  also  took  the initiative   of  drawing the   attention  of  the  Government to   its responsibility   to   educate   and train   technical   personnel in   respect   of   the   new Technology.t urged the Central and State Government to make available it to technicians the facilities at the Film & Television Institute of India  and other State sponsored Institutes. It   recognised   the   importance   of   short   term   courses   and suggested that existing Institutes organise short refresher courses  at fees which were within the slender means of film technicians.

——By Opender Chanana. (Copyrights reserved)

Mr. Chanana is an alumnus of Government College, Ludhiana-India. This premier institution completes t’s 100th year of establishment. He has been associated with Drama- and Cinema right since college days and was also awarded college color then. 

Mr. Chanana makes Film Documentaries in Mumbai and his documentary ‘DE-Glamorising the Bollywood’ depicting poor plight of cine workers has been rewarded globally with 307 plus  awards till date ,thus recognising issues raised by him.

Kudos to Opender Chanana for his relentless efforts for causes so dear to him.

Team :   Please submit your comments to take discussion further 

(The Views expressed in the Write-up are solely of Mr. Opender Chanana )





Rippie kaur January 14, 2021 at 11:56 am

Its rare that we that we come to read such columns by any journalists in India. Most focus on stars and too overwhelmed by GLAMOUR. Just as remember and recall the sacrifices made by freedom fighters for posterity, such a column records of pioneers of those established such institutions with the sole motive of seeking justice for millions of people who work behind the scenes. Its a revelation to find that many stalwarts and doyens of entertainment industry were connected with the movement. Kudos to Mr. CHANANA for the regular column. Keep it up

Priscilla Sharma January 14, 2021 at 3:37 pm

It took nearly two decades for all existing regional federations to have an All India body to voice their collective and individual concerns. We have observed that several attempts were made earlier to have such a body in fifties.
What a study!! Such an amazing dedication. The way you have gone through the findings of how things worked earlier. How things have changed, how the changes were bought n who all contributed in a certain way is really appriciable.Hats off to you for ur dedication. Keep it up. Many people have improved their livelyhood becoz of you. God bless.


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