Updated: June 25, 2020 5:28:47 am
VOICING concern that supply chain of various crucial items to the Army has already been affected due to closure of ordnance factories during the lockdown, three key federations have written to the Prime minister and urged him to withdraw the proposed move to corporatise ordnance factories to “avoid (an) indefinite strike” in the middle of the LAC tension.
The strike ballot called by three workers’ federations from 41 ordnance factories against the decision to corporatise the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) concluded on June 17. In it, the workers voted in favour of an indefinite strike.
But considering the situation along the LAC with China, a date of the strike will be announced next month.
In the fourth tranche of the Armanirbhar Bharat initiative, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on May 16 announced the decision to corporatise the OFB for “improving autonomy, accountability and efficiency in ordnance suppliers”. The three main federations, which represent over 85 per cent of ordnance workforce of 82,000, have unanimously opposed the decision.
A joint press statement by Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh, an arm of RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh; All India Defence Employees’ Federation, a federation of Left unions; and the Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation, of the Congress’s INTUC, stated, “The federations, after considering the prevailing critical situation in the country and the tension prevailing on the border [LAC] have made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the government’s decision to corporatise Ordnance Factories, so that the employees can contribute in a motivated manner by increasing the production to fully equip our soldiers protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our country.”
The federations stated that coronavirus cases have been detected among workers in at least six factories and two deaths have been reported until now. Despite that, they stated, “many employees worked during the entire lockdown period for manufacturing PPE and other safety items and have now switched over to regular production. The employees are…worried about the future of Ordnance Factories and uncertainty of their service condition as a Central Government Employee or Defence Civilian Employee.”