The three federations of defence manufacturing sector workers on Tuesday issued the notice of a nationwide indefinite strike called from October 12 against the proposed corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
The three main recognised federations of defence manufacturing trade unions in 41 factories and other units of the OFB have been opposing the proposed corporatisation. The decision to go on indefinite strike from October 12 was announced on July 30 after representatives of these unions had held meetings with top officials of the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence on July 28.
The three federations are All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF) — a federation of Left unions, Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) — an arm of RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, and the Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF).
On Tuesday, these three federations and their affiliated trade unions served strike notices. These notices were served to the chief labour commissioner in New Delhi and to the general managers and regional labour commissioners of the 41 ordnance factories. Federation members said protests will be held at individual units by following all the safety and social distancing norms.
The federations have together made two demands. The first is to withdraw the proposed move to convert the departmentally-run ordnance factories into a corporation or public sector undertaking. The second one is to set up an expert committee for studying the requirement and methodology for improving the efficiency, performance, productivity and accountability of the top management, integration of various functions, independent research and development, and power to enter into transfer of technology for OFB within the government setup.
The federations have also said that converting the OFB into a public sector entity will adversely affect the existing benefits and rights which the employees of Ordnance Factories and the future entrants are eligible for as central government employees or defence civilian employees.
The Industrial Disputes Act 1947 mandates a strike notice period of six weeks but the federations have jointly decided to give a nine-week notice period for various reasons, such as covering the lag in defence production due to the lockdown and local restrictions, providing sufficient time for the government to consider their demands, and also due to the prevailing pandemic situation.
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