Advocacy in favour of Corporatization of Ordinance Factories – A New Fashion or Views with Vested Interest?

After Retired Army Generals and self claimed Defence Experts, now it is the turn of Retired Bureaucrats and Labour Welfare officers to write Articles  advocating for the Govt. decision to Corporatise the Ordnance Factories. While the Retired Army Generals were abusing the Ordnance Factories and its workforce in their Articles, in an Article recently written by Rajan Verma retired Chief Labour Commissioner, he was trying to advocate that Corporatisation will be employee friendly and he has concluded his article stating that the OFB Employees will reap the fruits of Corporatisation.

Rajan Verma was the Chief Labour Commissioner(C) during the conciliation proceedings held jointly with the Federations and DDP on 21/08/2019 during the midst of One month strike of the Employees of Ordnance Factories against the Corporatisation of OFB. Being a part of the conciliation proceedings held on 21/08/2019,  after going through his article, I thought I should respond to him as I have responded to the Articles written by the retired Army Generals against the Ordnance Factories and its employees.

Dr Verma, you have stated that, the government can allay workers’ fears by following the BSNL and SPMCIL precedent. But do you know why Government wants to assuage the fear and anxiety of employees? Corporatisation of OFB is basically a wrong thing is being forced upon without public debate and rational reasoning done with scant regard for security of the nation.  There is strange silence from Government whether the objective of creating a self-sustaining eco system for Defence production through greater contribution of OFB is more important or Corporatization as a tool is more important to deliver that goal? Please note that the tool or methodology is secondary to the Goals and objectives.

While it is trendy to advocate its corporatisation, there is no attendant explanation by the Government on how executing this ‘reform’ will make the Ordnance Factories more efficient and serve the cause of self-reliance better. I wish you would have filled up the Gap by your erudite scholarship, which could have allayed fear of the employees of OFB.  Please remember that In “Jefferson papers” a book published by Princeton University, it is written boldly when the people fear the government, that’s tyranny. Do not you think it is tyranny, when Government wants to adopt unfair labour practices as they have announced the Corporatisation while negotiation/conciliation is underway?
Let me ask you,If BSNL fails; there are Vodafone, Airtel and Jio. If SPMCIL fails, there is Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited (BRBNMPL). But, if OFB fails, is there any stand by?  Is the transition to the new structure more important or the performance of the new entity under the new structure is more important.  Who can provide the guarantee that it will not fail? Who will make accountable if it fails? We have been seeking the answers from the government which it has been evading.  I wish you had the answers before writing a column in the press. Seeing the demise of BSNL and scores of PSUs following the way due to apathy of the Government, cannot you read the future? Is the writing not on the Wall?

Dr Verma, You have quoted examples of BSNL and SPMCIL for such smooth transition. It is time to do repentance for the sin that you have committed during your service career by being part of an apparatus that negotiated such deal in the past and the model which has failed. We challenge you, just pick up few BSNL employees, whose wages were deferred, who were given VRS in the altar of efficiency whose terminal benefits were not yet paid even after 9 months. They will answer how they were fooled. Please pick up few members of Management. They will tell how Government screwed up by denying BSNL to go for 4G. The process of killing an organisation, starts with such Corporatisation. Do you want to see the same future as a public spirited citizen of India?

Dr Verma, why do you quote in pats that are convenient to you? Do you know that SPMCIL was assured nominated orders from Government for its sovereign function? Has Government assured such things for OFB by changing Defence Acquisition procedure for the national infrastructure that they have created and costing policy they adopt? Will it be made applicable to OFB? Please remember that there is direct linkage between wellbeing of people and wellbeing of Organisation. Employees of OFB are not fools or selfish.

Dr Verma, now that you have retired, you can take any position. We would have loved to see that you could have quit a Government job and joined a PSU, in which case your words would have carried weightage. The world is full of people who just give advice, as it does not cost them anything without understanding its implication. As myself being a senior Citizen, I am sure that with wisdom of Senior Citizen; you develop such sagacity in your views and not become stooge of someone at whose instance you have written the article.
I assume that the Government has the right intention for OFB. If that be so, why they have appointed a Consultant without linking the outcome of the vendor to autonomy, accountability and efficiency in ordnance supplies, as you have mentioned? Do you know that this consultant will be out of the picture after a Year, with his Bank Guarantee valid for another 6 months after completion of the job? I request you to go through the document of RFP and make yourself aware of the totality before rushing to the press to get your name appearing as a writer.

Please note that the same principles of accountability also applies to the Officials of South Block and the Consultant. I hope, you will, agree principles are equally applicable to everyone. Then our request is that, you please write to the Press again trying to bring accountability for the South Block and Consultant and also plead for converting the South Block Officials also as employees of Corporations.

If you want to know one answer, how fear of the employees be allayed, then we have just two answers, Please advise the DDP  that OFB grows, OFB is sustainable, OFB gets the Orders and Budget , which is possible in the current form. Second, the employees have legitimate expectations to get their salary from the Consolidated Fund of India/Defence Services Estimates and retain their status as Central Govt. Employees/Defence Civilian Employees.

Dr Verma, have the courage to admit your faults in past and make your call for the public interest for overall National Interest than  sticking to some kind of your attempted and unconvincing  logic , half cooked and half baked.  Hope you continue to support the cause of interest of worker, not support the narrative of making OFB sick and long term goal of selling the people who are on buying spree at the backhand support of the Government. May the wisdom dawn in you, if not late?

The writer of this article, C.Srikumar, is  General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and the Convener of AITUC, Public Sector Unions and is a retired Defence Worker

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