Ordnance factory workers’ federations have demanded that the employees of Ammunition Factory, Khadki (AFK) in Pune, which has 15 positive cases and one death, be called to work on rotation basis to ensure physical distancing norms.
Representations in this regard have been given to factory management, various administrative and civic officials in Pune, officials of the Khadki Cantonment Board, by representatives of the workers’ federations.
General Secretary of All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF), C Srikumar, said on Wednesday, “At least 15 cases have been detected among workers of AFK, as per our primary information, and there has been one death. AFK the most affected factory among the 41 ordnance factories in the country. We have communicated with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and local authorities in Pune drawing their attention to this…”
He added, “…In many sections of ordnance factories…tools are handled by multiple persons. This puts workers and their families at risk. AFK has more than 5,000 workers and staff, who come from across Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Khadki…But we also cannot set aside the need to meet defence production goals. So, we are demanding that workers be called to duty on rotation basis to reduce the number of workers on campus at one point in time and social distancing norms are followed.”
Srikumar said, “The High Explosives Factory (HEF) is also located in Khadki. We urge all concerned authorities to take similar steps there, too. Along with AFK and HEF, there are concerns about the workers in Ordnance Factory Dehu Road, Army Base Workshop, Military Engineering Service units and Quality Assurance Establishments, which are located in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, which have very high prevalence of Covid-19 cases.”
Another workers’ federation, Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), wrote to District Collector Naval Kishore Ram on Monday, requesting that the factory administration be asked to run the factory with 33 per cent strength.
The letter, written by BPMS office bearer Sanjay Menkudale to the District Collector, says, “Situation in AFK is becoming serious day by day due to the threat of Covid-19 and workers of AFK are under tremendous fear of getting infected. In AFK, there is a chain production system and being an ammunition and explosive factory, components cannot be kept idle for further processing. Maintaining social distancing in production sections is becoming highly impossible to follow as the factory is working with its 100 per cent strength…District authorities may please intervene and instruct AFK administration not to work with full strength…I would like to inform you that AFK is on the verge of mass spread of Covid-19 and will become a key reason for the major outbreak of infection. We request you to instruct the AFK administration to run the factory with 33 percent of its workforce.”
AFK is a key manufacturer of ammunition, mainly for Indian defence forces and produces cartridges (bullets) for firearms used by security agencies, grenades, mortar shells, mines, rockets and also cartridges for civilian use.
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