The Ball Is Set Rolling – Corporatisation Of OFBs In Full Swing

Modi Government is in full swing to convert the Indian Ordnance Factories in to a Public Sector despite the resistance and opposition from the Trade Unions and the workers. Trade Unions have deferred their strike based on a settlement reached in the presence of Chief Labour Commissioner(C) on 09/10/2020. In accordance with the settlement Government should not proceed further on the dispute raised by the Federations in their strike notice. One of the major dispute raised by the Unions/Federations in their strike notice is withdrawal of the decision taken by the Govt. to convert the State owned Ordnance Factories in to a public sector. Even though the Govt. is repeatedly stating that the New Corporation or Corporations will be 100% owned by the Government, however the workers and their trade unions are not prepared to believe the statement of government, since the NDA govt. have already declared that even in strategic sector like Defence there will be only minimal number of PSUs. The Federations have deferred the strike, but they are not keeping quite. They are repeatedly representing to the Prime Minister to Defence Minister and also to the other members of the Empowered Group of Ministers, pointing out the violation of the conciliation settlement and the ill effect of Corporatisation of OFB in the Defence preparedness of our country. But there is no positive response from the Government. The Secretary Defence Production who was negotiating with the Federations have also stopped talking to them. No meeting has taken place after 05/01/2021, even there is no response from the government with regard to the alternative proposals and the robust proposals given by the Federations for continuing the Ordnance Factories in the present Government setup.

The Government set the ball rolling for deciding the fate of OFBs. On the 10th of March 2021, on the dictates of DDP ask all the General managers to give the details of the land holding of all the Ordnance Factories both by the Factory and the residential colony. Information is also called with regard to unused land and surplus land. On the 26th of March 2021 Sandeep Jain, Director Planning and Coordination of the Department of Defence Production, had conveyed to the Chairman of OFB, that the Government is considering the feasibility and viability of transferring the existing schools/hospitals of the OFB to the other Ministries/Organisations. It has been proposed that a team of officers from Min. of Health and ESIC will be visiting the Ordnance Factories for studying the feasibility of taking over these hospitals. A team of officer of ESIC visited Ordnance Factory Medak where they faced resistance from the Workers of the Factory and were forced to go back. In this backdrop, the OFB has now asked all the General Managers that they should facilitate the visit of the representatives of ESIC to all the Ordnance Factory Hospitals. After land and hospitals, the Ordnance Factory Schools are also targeted. The  DDP wanted to hand over the Schools to the Ministry of Education. These developments give an indication that the Government will totally ignore the concerns and the  resistance of the workers and their Trade Unions. comtacted C.Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF to ask him about the course of action of unions on the steps being taken by the government, pending conciliation. He replied that whatever steps being taken by the Government when the negotiations under the conciliation settlement is pending is nothing but illegal, arbitrary, unjustified and unfair. It seems that the Government has decided to ignore the advise given by the Chief Labour Commissioner(C) and also the settlement under the Industrial Dispute Act 1947. If the Government is not bothered about a quasi-judicial settlement, which has taken place then they are also free to take their decision to fight back against the ill-conceived decision of the government to convert the OFB’s status in to a Public Sector. The workers have already taken a pledge that they reject Corporatisation and they cannot be forced to join the Corporation in violation of their terms and condition of appointment. The committed Federations will fight till the last, since their struggle is not only to protect their service conditions, but to save a dedicated industry which is committed for the Defence of our country. He further stated that the Federations are meeting very soon and a join decision will be taken to overcome the challenges being posed by the Government.

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