After the Modi Government took decision to convert OFB into 7 Corporations on 16-6-2021, on 17-6-2021 the Ministry of Defence directed the Chairman OFB to collect applications from IOFS Officers for appointment as CMD’s for the 7 Corporations and functional directors before 26-6-2021. According to the OFB circular dated 19-6-2021 the eligibility criteria for the appointment to the Board of Directors is as under:
a) For CMD : SAG and above level officers of IOFS, OFB with minimum 5 years of service in SAG.
b) For Functional Directors : SAG officers of IOFS, OFB with minimum 2 years of service in the Grade.
c) Age – Not more than 57 years of age, as on 1 st October 2021.
Due to the above conditions imposed by the Government it is understood that more than 50 senior IOFS Officers will not qualify to occupy the above posts. Thereby the Senior IOFS Officers will be forced to work under Junior Officers who are at present working under them. This has created a debate amongst the IOFS Officers.
www.indianpsu.com contacted some of the IOFS Officers. Many of them are tight lipped due to fear. Some with the condition of anonymity stated the following. “ The MoD order dated 17-6-2021 is legally not sustainable since it is not in accordance with the DOP&T instructions on deputation of All India Service Officers to PSUs. Moreover till date the Government notification on splitting the Ordnance Factories into 7 Corporations is not yet published. In this situation with whose approval MoD have issued the instructions to OFB with the above conditions?”
“ Rajnath Singh is a seasoned politician. We believe in his words. He is so generous that he has assured that all the service conditions of the Ordnance Factory employees on conversion to corporation will remain unchanged. The statement of Rajnath Singh Defence Minister has been published in leading news papers of the country, Therefore there is no doubt that a person like Rajnath Singh coming from a patriarch of the family of Defence has come forward to protect the interest of Ordnance Factory Employees. Our worry is that the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence should not confuse him with their usual negative approach. Puneet Agarwal, the Joint Secretary in the Department of Defence Production was very careful when he made a statement before the Chief Labour Commissioner in the conciliation proceedings with the AIDEF, INDWF & BPMS. He has stated that “ service condition of the employees would not be adversely affected” which means service conditions will be affected but not adversely, whereas the Minister says all the service conditions will be protected. The Defence Civilian employees are eligible for CSD canteen benefits while in service and after retirement. Whether this will continue? Since the Minister is committed that all the service benefit will be protected, we believe that this benefit also will be protected.
The IOFS cadre is a divided lot. While the Seniors are against the circular issued by MoD about the required criteria for appointment of CMD’s and Board of Directors, the Juniors are very happy that they can become CMD’s and Directors.
www.indianpsu.com also contacted some IOFS Officers who retired from senior position. They are of the opinion that Rajnath’s statement and commitments are not supported by the existing Government orders. As on now at the most a Government employee can be on deemed deputation for not more than 5 years. If Rajnath Singh’s statement has to be converted into a Government order then there should be a provision that all the 76,000 employees of Ordnance Factories who are on the roll on the day when the corporatization notification is issued should remain on deemed deputation in the new corporations till their retirement from service.
Then only all the service benefits can be protected. If such an order is issued by the Government then it will be a historical one, and employees whether officers or workers cannot have much objections. However this may need the approval of cabinet since other ministries like DOP&T, Finance Ministry, Law Ministry, Labour Ministry etc., would be involved.
www.indianpsu.com also approached many senior Labour Lawyers who are dealing with labour and service matters, consulted whether the Government can abruptly change the service condition of the employees without their concern. They are of the opinion that the Supreme Court in many cases have established the principle of law that there can be no deprivation or curtailment of any existing right, advantage or benefit enjoyed by a Government servant without complying with rules of natural justice by giving the Government servant concerned an opportunity of being heard. Any arbitrary or whimsical exercise of power prejudicially affecting the existing conditions of service of a Government servant will offend against the provision of Article-14 and of the Constitution of India. Supreme court has also upheld that the opportunity should be given to the employees, before taking the decision by the employer/government. Post decisional opportunity of hearing will naturally proceed with the closed mind and there is hardly any chance of getting a proper consideration of the representation at such a post decisional opportunity.
Trouble has started in the Ordnance Factories. Unrest was initially amongst the employees. Officers were hoping that they being from the All India Service they will be protected. The first attack from the post corporatization decision has gone against them. In this background www.indianpsu.com contacted C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, who along with the other Federations have taken a decision to go for an Indefinite Strike from 19-7-2021. When asked about the selection of CMD’s and Directors from amongst the IOFS Officers his immediate reaction was that the 3 Federations have already approached the Officers and their associations that now atleast without remaining in isolation the Officer cadre should join hands with the workforce of the Ordnance Factories and fight back against the Government decision taken on the basis of ill-advised and ill-conceived notions. The entire country is against this decision of the Modi Government. We are getting support in our struggle against Government decision from all quarters. We are confident that all patriotic citizens will raise their voice against the decision of the Government and join the struggle to save the pioneer Defence industry of the country.
www.indianpsu.com will continue to publish articles related to the process of corporatization of Ordnance Factories in the days to come