THE three key federations of defence manufacturing workers from 41 ordnance factories have said that the date of their indefinite strike against the government’s move to corporatise the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) will be decided in their joint meeting scheduled on July 28.
The strike ballot called by the three federations had concluded on June 17, where workers had voted in favour of an indefinite strike against the corporatisation of the OFB. However, due to the then developing situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the date of the strike was scheduled to be announced this month.
The three workers’ federations who together represent over 85 per cent of the 82,000 workforce from 41 ordnance factories have been opposing the corporatisation of the OFB since the idea was first floated last year and also after it was included in the fourth tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 16.
The three federations are Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) — an arm of RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF) which is a federation of the Left unions and the Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) of the Congress’s INTUC.
On Sunday, the presidents and general secretaries of the three unions held a meeting over video conferencing which was chaired by AIDEF president S N Pathak. A joint circular to their members issued by the three unions after the meeting on Sunday read, “Discussions were held on fixing of the date for issuing strike notice and date of commencement of indefinite strike against the arbitrary move of the government to corporatise the ordnance factories. It was decided that the INDWF and BPMS will discuss with their constituents and a final decision for fixing the date of issue of strike notice and date of commencement of the indefinite strike will be taken in the next meeting of the three federations scheduled on July 28. In the mean lime if any announcement comes from the government regarding corporatisation of ordnance factories then there will be a nationwide protest on the next day itself by holding demonstrations and wearing black badges. Campaigning and awareness programmes against corporatisation of ordnance factories should continue in all the units.”
It may be recalled that on July 6 the Ministry of Defence invited Expression of Interest (EOI) cum Request for Proposal (RFP) for the selection of a consultant for strategising and implementing the proposed corporatisation of OFB. The invitation for the EOI cum RFP has been the first concrete step of the MoD towards corporatisation, which will result in conversion of the OFB into one or more 100 per cent government owned entities under the Companies Act, 2013.
The OFB, an umbrella body for the ordnance factories and related institutions, is currently a subordinate office of the MoD. It is headquartered in Kolkata and is a conglomerate of 41 factories, 9 training Institutes, 3 Regional Marketing Centres and 5 Regional Controllers of Safety.
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