On the one side the 80,000 strong workforce of Ordnance Factories are on serious preparations for commencing their indefinite strike from 12/10/2020 against Corporatising the Ordnance Factories. The Authorities sitting in the Ministry of Defence are bent upon to satisfy their political bosses to some how disturb the strike of the Employees. One such step was to declare the strike of the Defence Civilian Employees of Ordnance Factories as illegal, even though the Employer is not having any authority to declare a strike illegal. The Competent Authority to declare a strike illegal is the Labour Court. The Department of Defence Production in a letter dtd. 01/10/2020 addressed to the General Secretaries of AIDEF, INDWF & BPMS have directed the Federations that, since their strike is illegal they should withdraw the strike unconditionally within 7 days. Today (07/10/2020) the three Federations have issued a joint letter to the Department of Defence Production, wherein, they have criticized that even the Officers in the DDP who do not know the difference between the “Ordnance” and “Ordinance” are the architects of the ill conceived decision taken by the Government. The Federations have quoted all the Legal provisions and they have clearly justified that their strike is legal and the officials in the DDP are ignorant about these Rules and Provisions of the ID Act 1947. They have categorically stated that their strike is to stop the selling of National assets of OFB at throw away prices after making them sick through Corporatisation, which can be read through any common man with a bit of intelligence.
www.indianpsu.com has accessed a copy of the Joint letter of the three Federations and the same is being reproduced here for the benefit of our readers.
It is most unfortunate that the Government of India is depending on such Officials for implementation of the Corporatization of OFB as well as to deal with the Strike issue who doesn’t know what is “Ordnance” and “Ordinance”. It is regretted that instead of focusing on macro issues, dealing with National Security and Defence preparedness the MoD / DDP Officials are engaged in diverting the whole issue. The issuance of the above letter is one step in bullying with unfair power advantage that the Government has got, where it can stifle the voice of workers without any concern for their security of job, future existence of the Ordnance Factories and with scant regard to the Defence preparedness of the Nation.
In various forums, the Government has been raising concerns about performance of OFB to the extent of revealing Defence secrets at the cost of demoralizing Soldiers. It has been never expected that MoD would stoop so low to justify their action based on a Media offensive, where MoD silence only indicate that MoD thinks OFB is different from MoD and the same can be carried, seen from the silence of MoD without realization of the fact that MoD has got a hand in performance or non performance of OFB. Issue of this letter after a gap of more than 55 days, only shows the pace of decision making of MoD in the era of Industry 4.0.
The decision to going for the Strike was taken after exhausting all the avenues open to us and also after giving enough time for MoD to take a favorable decision on our strike demands. It is further mentioned that this decision is not taken based on assumption, presumption, apprehension or without factual reasons, as is being made out by the MoD vide its letter quoted under reference above.
In this connection we invite your kind attention to the press meet of Honorable Finance Minister on 16-5-2020 in which she has unilaterally and unambiguously informed that the Government has decided to Corporatize the Ordnance Factory Board with its listing in the Stock Exchange. She has also announced the policy of the Government that the PSUs will be privatized and in strategic sector there will be only four PSUs with the Government. The DDP is already having 9 PSUs under its control. It is also pertinent to mention here that the Hon’ble Prime Minister while addressing a conclave as Chief Minister of Gujarat has categorically mentioned that the birth of PSUs are only for its death, i.e. its closure. After the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security to Corporatize the Ordnance Factories, in the terms of reference given to the EGoM it is clearly stated “Conversion of Ordnance Factory Board in to a single Defence Public Sector undertaking (DPSU) or as Multiple DPSUs. Moreover once the OFB becomes a Corporation / Multiple Corporations, the employees will not get salary and other benefits from the consolidated fund of India/ Defence service estimates. Their service conditions will undergo a complete change. Therefore the statement made by the MoD in its letter dated 01-10-2020, that we are relying on assumptions and apprehensions are not tenable.
We thought it fit to remind the DDP about the existence of the “Rules for Recognition of Unions” which was brought into by the Ministry of Defence. Under the said rule, a form has been provided for notice of strike to be given by recognised Unions of the employees of the Defence Installations. The said format is replica of Form – L provided under the Industrial Disputes Rules and we have issued the strike notice by following the said format. Therefore, the requirement under Section – 22 (4) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 read with Rule – 71 (1) of the Industrial Disputes (Central) Rules, 1957 has been complied with.
Again we thought it fit to inform the DDP that, the informing of five elected representatives of workmen, which is known as “Five-man committee” is necessitated where there is no Union. Here, the recognised federations have invoked the provisions of the ID Act and the Rules for recognition of Union and issued a strike notice.
The reasons for the strike has clearly explained in the explanatory note, and this has been annexed along with the strike notice. The Paragraph – 3 (iv) of your notice dated 01.10.2020 is clearly vouch for the same.
The federations have never contradicted from its stand. The Ordnance Factories are national assets, and they stood with the nation in all situation whether it is a war or a pandemic. But, it is to be noted that, though the workmen are working in the industry which is a public utility service, still have the right to strike under the Industrial Disputes Act and that has been rightly invoked by the Federations.
The unfounded allegation of defects in the strike notice quoted by the DDP in its letter dated 01.10.2020, shows that the DDP was misguided and desperate to stop the strike by using illegal means. The said actions of the DDP is nothing but unfair labour practice and thereby illegal.
It is pertinent to mention here that, under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 the employer has not empowered to decide about the validity of the strike or the strike notice, and therefore the DDP has no authority to term our strike notice as untenable and illegal.
The Section – 23 (a) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 would be applicable when the conciliation is pending before a Board, which has been constituted under Section – 5 of the ID Act. Here, no such Board of Conciliation has been constituted and therefore this allegation is also untenable.
Without prejudice to the above, we are prepared to attend the meeting before the CLC(C) on 09.10.2020, and the federations will decide the further course of action, by taking into consideration of the outcome of the said meeting.
The voice of workers through the Federations is against such irrational decision taken by the Government. The strike notice served by the Federations would try to protect against the long distance selling of the National Assets of OFB at throw away prices after making them sick through Corporatization, which can be read through any common man with a bit of intelligence. Thus all the more it is important for the workers to fight against the injustice for an infrastructure they have built despite the tantrums and lack of support of MoD, which has been instrumental in the so called failing of OFB. Thus Federations invoke the spirit of the Father of Nation and would be looking to the only mechanism available with them for peaceful struggle of life and death for the service conditions of employees that are in National Interest for preservation of War Reserve.