BOLLYWOOD CELEBRITIES IN PARLIAMENT & ASSEMBLY NEVER RAISED ISSUES ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY & WORKING CONDITIONS OF MILLIONS OF VOICELESS WORKFORCE OF THEIR OWN INDUSTRY
— By OPENDER CHANANA
Bollywood STAR Parliamentarians’ support never came for cine workers ‘cause
The debate that took place in Parliament at the time of amending the Cine Workers Welfare Cess (Amendment) Act, Bill, 1992 led us to believe that our representatives were too willing to share the
concerns and problems of cine workers. A few comments from them while participating in the debate on 24th April, 1993, the day the amendment was carried through, bear’s testimony to this fact. I
quote them verbatim as under:
PROF. K.V. THOMAS (Ernakulum, Kerala);
“I rise to support this Amending Bill. This Amendment is just to change section 3 so that the
levy can be increased from Rs.1000 per feature film up to Rs.20, 000/-. In Kerala, we have
got a similar welfare fund. But it is more beneficial than the funds formed by the
Government of India. According to our Kerala Cine-Workers Welfare Fund, every worker
gets a pension between Rs.300/- to Rs.500/- per month. Similarly, medical treatment is
free. Education is free. Unfortunately in our country, even though cinema has got much
attraction except a few actors, majority of the workers who are connected with this field
often are found to be on the verge of starvation. The Govt. has to take certain firm
One, the cinema is not declared as an industry so far. If it is declared as an industry, all the
people, actors, cameraman and the boys who are connected with the industry-all of them
will get the work”.
“Secondly, a pension scheme should be given to all those who are connected with the
Mr RUPCHAND PAL (Hooghly, West Bengal):
”My suggestion would be that the Government should address itself to the serious aspects
of the welfare of cine workers and try to do something on the lines it has proposed in other
sectors of industry, although many of them have not been implemented yet.
Note: A suggestion was made to collect a small percentage from collections from cinema
theatres as was being done in Kerala. It could lead to huge collection of funds for its welfare
fund. This was also one of the recommendations of National Conference.
For example, there is the pension scheme. As we think about the pension of journalists and
others, why can we not think on that line about the pension of the technicians and cine
workers? Again, there is the question of Employees State Insurance; medical coverage,
insurance and others which will be contributed by the producers or the units, be it the
exhibition centre, be it the production Centre and they should make the contribution.”
“As you know, in the production process, a good number of cine workers not only meet with
accidents but also encounter occupation hazards as a result of which their eye sight is
affected. Because of working under too much of light their eye sight is affected. I am not
going into details of such hazards. But medical coverage should be there”.
Mr ANNA JOSHI (Pune, Maharashtra):
“….You know it well, artists who work in studio from morning to evening, you know it well,
and that extra artists in Bombay work for 12 hours or 14 hours or 16 hours a day. There is a
contractor also and the extra artists have to pay him some amount for getting work in the
“There is no question to pay salary to them. I would like to know in these circumstances as
to what are the health schemes, welfare schemes for all these people? What is their total
number and whether the Government has considered seriously about all this? If it has
considered about all this, then what provision is likely to be made by the Government for
Mr RAMESH CHENNITHALA (Kottayam, Kerala):
“I want to tell you that certain actors, because of their old age, are starving and they are not
able to perform. In such cases, the Government should consider giving pension to those
people who are not able to perform. During the time of shooting and other activities, if they
meet with accidents, some insurance cover must be there. It will be highly helpful to them.
Three years ago, one famous Malayalam hero died during shooting. Actually, I know him
personally. Now his family is starving. There are a number of cases like this.” “If insurance
coverage is there, at least his family will be benefitted”.
“My other suggestion is that Tele Films and Advertisement Films must be included in this.
Now a day, the production of tele films and advertisement films is more in number”.
Note: Those workers and technicians engaged in making of television content,
advertisement, short and documentary films are still not included in all the above three
referred Acts despite several representations made by AIFEC. Thus majority of workforce is
deprived of all benefits that they can avail of, especially when it comes to Cine Welfare Fund
Note: The demand for granting of industrial status to the entertainment industry will
imply that all pro labour laws passed since post-independence will also apply to workers
and technicians of the entertainment industry. AIFEC, ever since its inception and many
reports of commissions and enquiry committees from time to time have recommended
application of various pro labour laws to our industry. Without any sustained agitation
and activism on the part of unions, the demand for status of an industry has remained a
dream and confined to ream of pages on which these resolutions were typed or written.
Mr CHITTA BASU (Barasat, West Bengal):
“I would also like to remind the Hon. Minister that the points I am raising were also raised
when the original Bill was being discussed in the House. Some of the Hon. Members said
that the film making should be treated as an industry. If it is treated as an industry, the
workers engaged in it should be treated as industrial workers and then the Industrial
Disputes Act will automatically apply to them. All the rights flowing from the Industrial
Disputes Act will automatically apply to them”.
Mr GOVIND CHANDRA MUNDA (Keonjhar, Orissa):
“This is a small Bill. It has been brought before the House for limited purpose, but that is
very important. The Govt. of India has formed Cess fund for the welfare of cine workers.
But the amount deposited in the fund is very inade’ate. Thousands of workers are
engaged in the cine industry. They perform a very vital role in the film. In fact, they are the
main source of entertainment. We enjoy their action and dance.
“When Govt. of India has been laying stress on the welfare of workers engaged in other
fields then the cine workers should not be ignored. They need better education for their
children; health care and higher wages. It is not possible to take care of the welfare of the
cine workers with the money available in the Cine Workers Welfare Fund.”
It becomes clear from the submissions made by members of Parliament while participating
in the debate that they were not only well aware of the fact that workers in the film industry
had been denied rights available to workers in other industries under various pro labour
laws but strongly thought that the Government should bring a comprehensive bill to provide
social security, medical and health care, education to workers engaged in the film industry.
The debate took place more than fifteen years ago and we are still waiting for any such bill
to be introduced in the Parliament. It is also ironical that while the Cine-Workers and
Cinema Theater Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981. Act No.50 of 1981. (24th
December, 1981) the implementation of which would have ensured regulation of
employment, continues to draw flak from unions for its tardy administration. However since
it is the only piece of legislation that has not remained on paper but is being administered, it
is in the fitness of things that attention is drawn to its key features.
Mr. Chanana is an Alumnus of Satish Chander Dhawan Government ,Ludhiana-India.This premier institution completes it’s 100th year of establishment.
He has been associated with Drama- and Cinema right since college days and was also awarded college colour then. Mr. Chanana makes Film Documentaries in Mumbai and his documentary, LIVING ON THE EDGE-DEGLAMOURIZING BOLLYWOOD depicting poor plight of cine workers has been rewarded globally with 350 plus awards till date ,thus recognising issues raised by him. Kudos to Opender Chanana for his relentless efforts for a cause so dear to him.