Superfluous Assurances Of Government’s On labour And Farmers Issues

The  Farmers  and their  Unions  have  rejected  the 20 pages  proposals  offered  by  the  Government  that  the  Government  is  intended  to  address the  misgivings  of  all the  stakeholders.  However  the Government is not prepared  for  embedding the  minimum  support  price  mechanism  into  the  law.  Instead  the  Government  is  offering to  give  a  written  assurance  on  the  MSP  regime.  After  receipt  of  the  proposals  from  the Government  the  farmer  leaders  have  categorically stated  that  there  is  nothing new  in  them.  The  All India  Kisan  Sangharsh Coordination Committee  (AIKSCC)  termed the proposals  of  the Government  as  “Old  proposals  dressed  up  as  new”  A  delegation  of  five  opposition  parties  met  the  President  of  India  today  and   requested  his intervention  to  accept  demands  of  the protesting  farmers .  Since  the Government  is  not  prepared  to  withdraw the three controversial laws  the  united  forum  of  the  farmers  have  decided  to  block  the  Delhi – Jaipur   and Delhi – Agra  highways  on  December 12th. On  December  14th  they  have planned  to  hold  a  Nationwide  Dharna  at  the  District  level.  The  farmers  of  other  states are  also  joining  the  moment  to  commence  an  Indefinite  Strike  from the  same  day.

The  farmers  are  justified  in  rejecting  the  written  assurances  being  given by  the  Government,  since  they know  that  these  written  assurances  have  got  no  value  and  no  weightage,  since  once  the  agitation  is over  then  the Government  will comfortably   forget  its  own  assurances  and  will come  with hundreds  of  reasons  and please  for  not  implementing  the  assurances.  Let us  analyze  here  about  the  fate of  assurances   given  in the past 20  years  by  different  Government  and Defence  Ministers  to the  Defence  Civilian  Employees  and  their  Federations  with  regard  to Corporatisation  of  Ordnance  Factories. The  extract  of the  written  assurances  given by the Government’s  in  the  past  is given  here  for the  information  of  the  readers.

1) Assurance given by the then Defence Minister late George Fernandes
“ there was no proposal for privatisation/ corporatisation of the Ordnance Factories or any other Defence Establishment at present. In fact, the government would encourage growth of ordnance Factories”

2) Assurance given by the then Defence Minister late Pranab Mukherjee
“At the outset, Hon’ble RM welcomed all the participants. He observed that the Federations have expressed certain concerns and apprehensions regarding two recommendations contained in Kelkar Committee Report. One of the recommendations is that Ordnance Factories should be corporatized. Hon’ble RM stated that the Govt. has not decided to corporatize  Ordnance Factories and that there is no cause of action for the Federations to begin an agitation on this issue”.

3) Assurance given by the then Secretary(DP) on 31/08/2006 with the three Federations
“2……… Secretary(DP) stated  that except recommendation  relating to corporatization of Ordnance Factories, no other recommendations of the Kelkar Committee affected the OFB. He  informed the representatives of the Federations that no decision has been taken on the recommendation relating to corporatisation of Ordnance Factories and assured them that all stake-holders including the Federations would be consulted by the Government before taking a decision on this issue”

4) Assurance given by the then Defence Minister Shri.A.K.Antony
“RM further observed that as the Federations were opposed to Corporatisation of OFs, his predecessor had categorically assured them that there was no intention to implement the recommendation of the Kelkar committee relating to Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. He said  that the present policy is the same.”

5) In a DO letter dtd. 18th June 2007 the then Defence Minister Shri.A.K.Antony has given the following assurance to the General Secretary of AIDEF.
“ As already assured, the Government does not, at present, intend to corporatize the Ordnance Factories. We do not intend to breach the agreement between the Ministry of Defence and its employees by indirectly converting the Ordnance Factories into a Corporation modules, as apprehended.

6) Late Manohar Parrikar on 12/01/2015, has assured that there is no proposal to Corporatise the ordnance Factories.
What  happened  to the  above  written assurances?  The  Government has  completely  brushed  away  all those  assurances  and have  arbitrarily  decided  to  convert  the  41  most  sensitive  and  strategic Ordnance Factories  into  a  Corporation / PSU  and then to  sell it  out.  The  Trade  Unions  of  the Defence  Civilian Employees  are  fighting  with the  Government  to  implement  its own  assurances.  However  the  Government  is adamant  and  repeatedly  telling  that  it is  a  policy  decision of  the Government  to Corporatise the Ordnance Factories. The Assurances  given to  the  Defence  Employees  Federations,  were  also  policies  of  the Government  only. People  who  are  in  power  thinks  that  they  have  got  the  authority to violate  any assurances  given in  the past.  After  all  the  assurances  given  by  a Government  is  not between two  individuals. The  assurances are  given by  the Government as  an  institution  to  another  institution  called  the  Trade Unions. Institutional  assurances  are  blatantly  violated. This is the fate of all the assurances given by this Government to the people of the country on various issues.  Therefore  the farmers  with  all these  experience  are  very correct in rejecting  the  written  assurances  of  the Government.

Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and National Executive Committee Member of AITUC

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