Last year in the midst the 1st wave of Covid 19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the pretext of Covid-19 Relief package, announced that the 219 years old Indian Ordnance Factories will be Corporatised and subsequently privatised. It is now more than one year and the Trade Unions and the workers of Ordnance Factories are in logger head with the Government. They are demanding to withdraw the government decision.
On one side the conciliation by the Chief Labour commissioner (C) is going on and the other side the government is moving very fast to convert the OFB in to multiple Corporations. In this juncture, Binoy Viswam, MP of the Communist Party of India (CPI) has taken up the matter with the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and has appealed to him to withdraw this decision, since it is not in the interest of National Security and Defence Preparedness.
www.indianpsu.com has accessed the copy of the letter written by Binoy Viswam, MP, and its contents are given below for the benefit of our viewers –
Respected Shri Rajnath Singh ji,
The global pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has taken an unimaginable toll on all facets of life. From the tragic loss of life to the catastrophic impact on the economy, the world, including India, has changed forever. As part of the Government’s efforts to revive the economy, a slew of decisions were unveiled by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in May 2020. One of the decisions taken was the corporatisation of the Ordinance Factory Board (OFB) which comprises of 41 ordinance factories that produce the majority of India’s defence equipment.
Despite the numerous representations made by the workers representatives as well as by Parliamentarians, the Government has failed to take into confidence the workers of these factories and has completely disregarded their contributions to making the OFB what it is today. Due to this the 3 federations, The All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF), Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) and Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), that represent the Defence Civilian employees had issued a notice for an indefinite strike to the Government. However a conciliation settlement was reached on 09th October 2020 wherein the Joint Secretary of the DDP had assured them of meetings with the Secretary Defence Production as well as with the Empowered Group of Ministers that is chaired by your good self. Further they were assured that no changes would be made without taking them into confidence. However, it has been learnt that in violation of these agreements, the Government of India is already in advanced stages for implementing the proposed changes without even meeting with the workers or their representatives.
Ordnance Factories have been the backbone of the defence infrastructure of the country. When country was facing an acute shortage of PPE kits, the Ordnance Factories stepped up in India’s effort against COVID-19 by producing PPE kits to save lives of countless frontline workers. Their employees are true patriots who have contributed significantly to the story of independent India. Privatisation of these factories will lead to lay-offs and closure of factories. Even under normal circumstances it will be a disservice to these patriotic employees, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic it will a draconian decision to expedite the corporatization process as these 80,000 employees and their families will face severe economic consequences.
I urge you to reconsider this policy decision and immediately stop all efforts in this direction. In compliance with the conciliation settlement, the Empowered Group of Ministers must meet with the representatives of the workers and consider their representations in these matters. Further, the Officials of DDP must be advised to honour the conciliation settlement and not violate the same. This is not only a matter of protecting the interests of the workers in these factories but it is more importantly about protecting the interests of India and its sovereignty.
Leader of CPI Parliamentary Party & Secretary, National Council
Member, Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Member, Consultative Committee on Environment, Forest and Climate Change