The 80,000 Defence Civilian Employees of 41 Ordnance Factories and 40,000 Contract Employees are on the verge of going on an Indefinite Strike. In the midst of their preparations series of articles against Ordnance Factories by Retired Army Generals and Brigadiers are being published with the intention to support the move of the Government to Corporatise the Ordnance Factories. Counter Articles and rebuttals are also being published. Of late some articles have come in the public domain branding the Employees who are using their right to protest through a Strike Action.
The Federations in a meeting held with the Secretary(DP) on 28/07/2020 have assured the Government that in case of any threat for the national security they will be with the Armed Forces for protecting the sovereignty and security of the country and the Ordnance Factory workers will work day and night for producing the Defence Equipments. Today, the three Federations who are leading the agitation against Corporatisation have issued a press statement, in which they have stated the following:-
The Finance Minister taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic situation announced on behalf of the Government of India that the hitherto state owned 41 Ordnance Factories under the Ministry of Defence will be converted into a Corporation / PSU and thereafter to list it in the Stock Market. This announcement of the Government was against the previous agreements made in the past by the Government with the Employees and also against the written assurance given by 4 previous Defence Ministers George Fernandez, Pranab Mukharjee, A.K. Antony and Manohar Parikar that Ordnance Factories would not be corporatized since these factories have to remain as War Reserve and also due to the fluctuating requirement of the Armed Forces. However in violation of all these assurances and agreements the Government has arbitrarily announced Corporatizing the OFB. The Government has further announced that all the Public Sectors would be privatised.
In this situation the 3 Recognized Federations (AIDEF, INDWF and BPMS) have submitted innumerable representations to the President of India, Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Staff and also to the Chairman of the Defence Parliamentary Standing Committee to reconsider the decision of the Government. Since the Government is not prepared to listen to the alternative suggestions given by the Federations for improvement of the functioning and performance of Ordnance Factories within the Govt. set up itself. The Federations left with no other option after taking a Strike Ballot, wherein 99.9% of the employees have mandated for an Indefinite Strike, the Federations have served Strike Notice for an Indefinite Strike commencing from 12-10-2020.
It has become a fashion now-a-days that every day two or three Generals/Brigadiers (Retd.) have been tutored to write some ill conceived articles on the performance of Indian Ordnance Factories with any iota of truth in it. These systematic campaigns are being carried out with the sole aim of tarnishing the image of Indian Ordnance Factories in the eyes of not only the Jawans, who have got highest satisfaction level on the reliability of Ordnance Factories Products, but also to turn the general public against it to achieve the selfish agenda of some people within and outside to convert the Indian Ordnance Factories into a Corporation. These retired Senior Officers of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force tent to forget that every decoration added in their shoulder is also the result of hard-work, dedication of the employees of Indian Ordnance Factories all these years in supplying high quality and precision weaponry, making the Indian Armed Forces to succeed in all the misdemeanours of our adversaries.
They should also not forget that many of our employees have also been martyred in the line of their duty in all these years in equipping them with precision weaponry.
It is astonishing that some people are out to brandies the Defence Civilian Employees of Ordnance Factories and their Trade Unions as unpatriotic for giving notice to the Government for an indefinite strike to achieve the genuine demands of the employees. In this connection we wish to state that the strike notice was give as the last resort and as per the relevant rules to redress our genuine grievances.
We were also very categorical that in the event of any emergency situation because of the prevailing tense situation in our border we will defer the strike. In fact, the Federations in the meeting held with the Secretary, Defence Production on 28-7-2020 has categorically assured that “ Even though the Federations have planned for strike against the injustice, they will stop all strike in case of National Security and would work day and night whole heartedly” the Federations reiterate the same.
It is our pride that even when the entire industry was shut due to lockdown, it is only the employees of Ordnance Factories, who come forward to manufacture and supply the much needed PPE items (manufactured for the first time) for the COVID-19 warriors of the country without even caring for their safety. From the above it is amply clear that our patriotism towards the nation is not linked to the stock market, but is commitment towards the Armed Forces and security of the country. We once again reassure the Nation that we will not be in the strike when the Nation’s safety, security and needs of the Armed Forces are at risk. Moreover we do not require the certificate for our patriotism from these disgruntled elements who misused hundreds of soldiers for their house hold and personal work while in service and after retirement became the agents of Private Corporates against the interest of Ordnance Factories.