Decision To Split OFB in 7 Corporations Is Against National Interest, Defence Preparedness And Security Of The Country

The employees of Ordnance Factories have now started their next phase of agitations against the Modi Government’s decision to split Ordnance Factories  into 7 Corporations. Even a single factory like Ordnance Parachute Factory is to be converted into a Corporation. Already more than 25 Factories are suffering from shortage of workload. How the 7 Corporations will survive depending upon only one customer and with all its overhead expenditure including the contribution to NPS. Many feel that Government has chosen a wrong time and worse still wrong approach to achieve Atmanirbhar which will be a moving goal post. 

A senior retired officer from Ordnance Factory while speaking to stated “it is just old wine in a new bottle” the existing configuration has been rechristened. The independent PSUs cannot function of its own as the facilities are by and large product specific. To pay a hefty consultancy fee for just renaming the 7 entities is ridiculous. I do not know whether the concept of holding  company would be created. The assurance of Defence Minister on service condition is rather baffling. While the Minister says there will be no change in the service condition of the employees, the Joint Secretary Puneet Agarwal has carefully stated in the conciliation proceedings that  “employees service conditions will not be adversely affected”, which means service conditions are going to be affected. How can you have a PSU and its employees as Government employees. If that is the intention of the Government, then why this wasteful expenditure, wasteful exercise and wasteful tension in the Factories. The Federations of the Defence Employees are going ahead with their Action programmes.

Today, in all the Defence establishments the effigy of Corporatisation and Government decision was burnt by the employees. The Federations are getting support from different corners. The AITUC, CITU, HMS, CPI, CPI(ML), AIRF and Confederation of Central Government Employees have also  extended their support, even the RSS affiliated BMS also have issued a statement in support of the Defence Employees struggle against Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. Now all the major 10 Central Trade Unions recognized by the Ministry of Labour have issued a joint statement in which they have affirmed their commitment for support and solidarity with the Defence workers. The joint statement issued by the Central Trade Union is given below for the nenefit of the viewers of –

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions and Sectoral Federations in solidarity with Defence Employees, condemn Government decision of corporatization of ordnance factories

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions and Sectoral Federations extend their support to the nationwide action programme on 19th June taken up by the federations in defence sector opposing the Govt. decision of corporatization of ordnance factories.  

The decision of the Govt. to destroy the premier Defence Industry of our country, Viz., the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories into 7 Corporations, is with the intent to make it easy to sell out the national asset. When entire country was facing Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the Modi Govt. announced amongst various anti-people, anti-worker and anti-farmer measures, the corporatization of the Ordnance Factories also. It is to be noted that five former Defence Ministers had given written assurances that Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) would not be corporatized. The MoD itself, in the past, has stated before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that corporatization of the OFB will not be a viable proposal. 

99% of the Defence Civilian Employees had supported the call for an indefinite strike from 12/10/2020 against the arbitrary decision of the Government, in the ballot taken by their Trade Unions and the Federations. It had resulted in a settlement in the presence of Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) on 09/10/2020 and accordingly the strike was deferred. 

It is a matter of record that during the conciliation proceedings, the Federations had accepted the annual production target demanded by the MoD, had given well thought out suggestions to revamp OFB and better co-ordination with the Armed Forces and even more importantly, had risen to meet the emergency of first Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 by producing and supplying the much needed ventilators, when the private sector proved incapable to contribute to the national effort. But the Govt. chose to violate the agreement and the clear provisions of Sec. 33 of the ID Act 1947 and proceeded with its decision to corporatize the OFB ignoring the law of the land. Not only the complaint lodged against these violation by the AIDEF, INDWF & BPMS was totally ignored by the Chief Labour Commissioner(C), he urgently convened the conciliation proceedings on 15/06/2021 and in the absence of the three recognized Federations who had served the Strike notice, closed the proceedings under the pressure from the Govt. so as to facilitate the Govt. to take the decision on 16th June. The trade unions of the 80,000 Defence Civilian Employees are not in an agreement with the Govt. decision for the following reasons. 

The corporatization would lead to privatisation as the Govt. has already announced that all the PSUs will be privatized. More so, entry of foreign companies in indigenous defence production sector can no way be ruled out.  Therefore Corporatization of OFB is against the interest of National Security and Defence preparedness. Moreover the privatisation perpetuates informalisation of economy and it is in contravention to the Govt. commitment made in UN Assembly to achieve SDG-2030.   
The Defence Civilian Employees are recruited through an All India Competitive Examination under Article 309 of the Indian Constitution and are paid wages including their pensions from the consolidated fund of India. All these status and protection will go away if they are converted to employees of corporate entities.

The Federations of the Defence Civilian Employees have decided to fight back including revival of their indefinite strike. The Central Trade Unions extend all support and solidarity and Call upon the people of the Country and the Trade Unions in all sectors to oppose the decision of the Govt., so as to stall the Govt. decision to split the OFB into 7 smaller Corporations and then to sell out its Land & Asset to its favourable corporates having serious implication on the Security, Defence Preparedness and Self Reliance of our country. 

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