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Friday, October 23, 2020

Unions defer indefinite strike against OFB corporatisation pending conciliation talks with MoD

The three main recognised federations of defence manufacturing trade unions from 41 ordnance factories and other units of the OFB have been opposing corporatisation.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | October 10, 2020 1:38:53 am
Ordnance Factory Board, OFB corporatisation, indefinite strike against corporatisation, unions postpone strike, Inidian express newsA protest by OFB workers in Pune in August. (File)

The three federations of defence production workers have deferred their indefinite strike against corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), scheduled to begin on October 12, pending conciliation talks with Ministry of Defence (MoD) to resolve their issues. The ministry, on the other hand, has agreed not to proceed with corporatisation till talks are on, officials said.

The three main recognised federations of defence manufacturing trade unions from 41 ordnance factories and other units of the OFB have been opposing corporatisation.

On Friday, the chief labour commissioner (central) had called a joint conciliation meeting between federations and representatives of Department of Defence Production of the MoD. The marathon meeting, which was held over videoconferencing, started at 11.30 am and went on till late in the evening. During the meeting, the federation representatives remained firm on their stand against corporatisation, while MoD representatives stressed that corporatisation of OFB into 100 per cent government-owned corporate entities was not privatisation, and that interests of existing employees will be safeguarded.

Officials said at the end of the meeting it was agreed upon that since the matter was sensitive and required deliberations at the highest level of government, the Mod representative said the meeting with secretary, Defence Production and Empowered Group of Ministers, could be arranged so unions can put forward their issues and grievances.

Union representatives said till conciliation proceedings were on, no change on the disputed issue should be made by the MoD.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the federation office-bearers said they had deferred the strike but not called it off. They said they were hopeful that meetings with top officials would have some positive outcome in their favour.

The three federations are All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF) of Left unions; Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), an arm of RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh; and Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) of the Indian National Trade Union Congress. These three federations represent around 85 per cent workers across OFB units and had served a joint strike notice to the CLC and other concerned establishments on August 4.

Federations have also said corporate entities would not be able to survive the unique market environment of defence products that has unstable demand and supply dynamics.

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