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Striking Indian Television Workers Resume Work


Striking workers in India's television entertainment industry have resumed work, on assurance of better wages. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the strike had halted the production of Hindi-language soap operas, which are viewed by tens of millions of people in South Asia and around the world.

When television workers in Mumbai returned to work Thursday, after a ten-day strike, it was not just the Hindi television industry which was back in business.

It was also good news for millions of families across India, who had missed tuning into the latest episode of their favorite Hindi-language soap opera, every evening.

Shoots for TV soaps had ground to a halt as a result of the strike, forcing most entertainment channels to rerun old episodes.

Production resumed after TV producers conceded several demands made by workers. They will replace daily wages with a contract system and give other benefits.

The head of Indian Motion Pictures Production Association, Anil Nagreth, says about 150,000 TV workers -- such as technicians and carpenters -- stand to gain.

"Things like insurance have been addressed, and increments have been granted in the payments that were earlier being made. So both sides are happy," Nagreth said.

Many others are happy. The Hindi language soaps -- mostly highly-charged, emotional family dramas -- are not just widely viewed in India. They also have a huge audience in other South Asian countries, as well as among Asian communities in Western countries.

A housewife in New Delhi, 55-year-old Shobha Dhir, is among those who regularly follows several Hindi soaps.

She says she got very bored during the strike. It was difficult to fill the evening hours and she lost connection with her favorite episodes.

The massive audience has made these soaps the most lucrative segment of the TV entertainment industry and created thousands of new jobs in Mumbai, where the Indian film and TV industry is based.

But workers complain that many producers still do not operate professionally.

TV workers are not the only ones with complaints. Last month, workers in the Bollywood film industry also went on strike, saying they had to work for long hours and that payments were made months behind schedule. The strike ended with promises of more money and limitations on filming schedules.

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