The three major federations of workers in 41 Ordnance Factories across the country have started preparing for an indefinite strike against the proposed corporatisation of the Ordnance Factories Board.
The federations, including the Left-leaning All India Defence Employees Federation, the INTUC-affiliate Indian National Defence Workers Federation and the BMS-led Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh, will hold strike ballots in all the factories and other establishments under OFB between June 8 and June 17 to assess the response of 82,000 defence workers. The federations will issue an indefinite strike notice to the Department of Defence Production after the strike ballot.
The organisations reminded Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a joint letter that the Centre had assured the workers during an indefinite strike in August last year that a High Level Official Committee (HLOC) will interact with the federations to examine the stand taken by the workers that Ordnance Factories should not be corporatised.
The letter said that when all the issues raised by the Federations are yet to be settled with the Centre, the Finance Minister announced the “arbitrary decision” of corporatisation, “especially when the employees are engaged in the production of PPEs required for the frontline warriors fighting against the spread of Covid-19.”
A joint statement of the federations said that since there is no positive response from the Centre, they should proceed with the indefinite strike preparations. “Accordingly, it is hereby directed that all the Affiliated Unions in the Ordnance Factories, shall take Strike Ballot between June 8 and June 17 on any convenient date suitable for the Unions depending upon the local situation,” the statement said. AIDEF’s General Secretary, C Srikumar, said the demands of the workers include withdrawal of the “arbitrary, illegal and unjustified decision” taken by the Centre to convert the Ordnance Factories into a Corporate/PSU and to list them in the share market.
“Conversion of the OFB into a Corporation/PSU and listing the same in the share market will be only the beginning for its liquidation which is not in the interest of the defence preparedness and the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abiyan mission announced by the Honourable Prime Minister,” said the federations’ letter.