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Ordnance factory workers strike: Isn’t vikas of defence workers part of Sabka Saath slogan, asks RSS-linked outfit

Over 80,000 workers from across the 41 ordnance factories in India went on a month-long strike from Tuesday against the proposed “corporatisation” of the Kolkata-headquartered Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the umbrella body for these factories.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
August 22, 2019 1:44:38 am
Almost all civilian workers from the Ammunition Factory in Khadki, High Explosives Factory in Khadki and Ordnance Factory in Dehu Road are on strike. (Express/File)

Against the backdrop of the ongoing nationwide strike of ordnance factory workers, Mukesh Singh, general secretary of Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) — an arm of RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh — questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday whether the “vikas” of civilian defence workers were not part of his ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ slogan.

Over 80,000 workers from across the 41 ordnance factories in India went on a month-long strike from Tuesday against the proposed “corporatisation” of the Kolkata-headquartered Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the umbrella body for these factories.

The Ministry of Defence is currently considering a proposal to convert OFB, a subordinate office of the ministry, into one or more than one government-owned corporate entities registered under the Companies Act, 2013.

Along with BPMS, two other all-India labour federations which have joined the strike are the All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF) affiliated to the CPM’s CITU and the Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) of the Congress’s INTUC.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Singh said, “On this proposal of corporatisation, we want to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi that when he gives the country a slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, doesn’t he mean the ‘Vikas’ of over 80,000 defence civilian workers? Doesn’t he want the ‘saath’ of these workers anymore?”

Asked about questions raised regarding BPMS’s affiliation to the RSS, Singh said, “Why would that limit our right to raise a voice for the welfare of the labour? Our strike is against the policy being considered by the government. The strike the three key labour organisations have called has been successful throughout the country. Our discussions with the Ministry of Defence are currently on.”

In a joint letter to Defence minister Rajnath Singh, general secretaries of the three organisations — C Srikumar of AIDEF, R Srinivasan of INDWF and Mukesh Singh of BPMS — had said, “Converting the Ordnance Factories into Corporation is not commercially viable because of fluctuations in orders, long gaps between orders, uneconomical order quantity and life cycle support required for 30-40 years after introduction of equipment…”

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