Defence

Defence civilian employees to go on indefinite strike from July 26 in protest against the corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board

Published : June 30, 2021 09:59 IST

BMP 2 armoured vehicle and armoured ambulance manufactured at the Ordnance Factory Medak on display at Yeddumailaram in Sangareddy district, Telangana, on March 18. Photo: G. RAMAKRISHNA

The three main recognised federations of defence civilian employees have jointly decided to serve a strike notice to the Narendra Modi government calling for an indefinite strike from July 26 in protest against the Union Cabinet’s decision to split the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) into seven fully government-owned corporate entities.

The three main recognised federations of defence civilian employees have jointly decided to serve a strike notice to the Narendra Modi government calling for an indefinite strike from July 26 in protest against the Union Cabinet’s decision to split the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) into seven fully government-owned corporate entities. Terming the Union Cabinet’s decision “arbitrary, one sided and a biased” that violated all the previous written agreements and assurances, they have demanded the immediate withdrawal of the government’s corporatisation plan.

The Modi government has defended the splitting and corporatisation plans of OFB explaining that the long-delayed move will usher in better management practices and improve efficiency. But, terming the Union Cabinet’s June 16 decision “the most dangerous decision taken” by the government, the federations aver that the entire process to corporatise OFB is “stage-managed, hasty and taken in a hurried manner, without any application of mind about the impact of this decision”.

The unanimous decision calling for an indefinite strike by the federations, which represent 76,000 employees across 41 ordnance factories, will severely cripple the functioning of OFB factories across the country. Five civilian defence employees’ federations—the All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF), the Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF), the Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), the National Progressive Defence Employees’ Federation (NPDEF) and the All India Bahujan Defence Employees Federation—have also termed the Modi government’s corporatisation plans as going against the national interest, defence preparedness and security of the country.

Speaking to Frontline, AIDEF general secretary C. Srikumar said that the federations and unions will serve notice for the strike on July 8, both independently and jointly. Srikumar also disclosed that the federations’ joint decision has been conveyed on June 29 to the Defence Minister, Secretary of Defence Production and Defence Secretary. Srikumar said that the decision to go on an indefinite strike was taken at a joint meeting of the federations.

A joint statement from the federations stated: “A Joint Meeting of the employee federations have unanimously decided to revive the indefinite strike which has been deferred based on a conciliation settlement reached between the Ministry of Defence and the Federations of Defence Civilian Employees on 09.10.2020.” The federations sought to highlight the fact that while they implemented the settlement in its true spirit by deferring the indefinite strike notice given by them, the Ministry of Defence “was going on violating the agreement by proceeding in its actions to appoint consultants and implement its recommendations through the Empowered Group of Ministers, which is going to have far reaching implications on the national security, defence preparedness and the future of 76,000 devoted and committed workforce and their families”.

Said Srikumar: “The strike that was originally planned from October 9 last year was deferred based on a conciliation settlement. But even as our complaint to the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) about the violations of the Ministry of Defence has not yielded any result, the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) on June 15 abruptly closed the conciliation proceedings. This enabled the government to take its decision on June 16.”

The federations plan to use the intervening period to drum up support from Chief Ministers of all States and leaders of political parties and the Parliamentary Defence Standing Committee.

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