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Ordnance factories employees to go on strike against Govt. decision of OFB

Over 82,000 employees working in 41 ordnance factories have decided to go on indefinite strike against the governments decision to implement corporatisation of the Ordnance factory Board.

A strike ballot called by the Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) and the Indian National Defence Workers Federation (INDWF), concluded on June 17, where workers voted in favour of an indefinite strike. However, the actual date of protest will only be announced in the second week of July owing to the situation with China, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

On May 16, while announcing the fourth tranche of the Rs. 20 lakh crore financial relief package, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government's decision of corporatise the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), arguing that the move is aimed at improving autonomy, accountability and efficiency in ordnance supplies. She added that in the near future, the OFB factories could be listed in the markets to bring in transparency in their operations.

Federations of defence civilian employees took a collective decision to go ahead with an indefinite strike against the government decision, which they called as "arbitrary, illegal and unjustified".

In a joint statement issued by three recognised federationsAll India Defence Employees Federation, Indian National Defence Worker's Federation and Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sanghthe protesting workers claimed that the government move is against the agreement between the federations and the ministry of defence in the past.

Defence unions also claimed that they had deferred their strike (last August) only after an assurance given by the defence ministry and a high-level official committee was constituted to study the possibility of OFB achieving Rs. 30,000 crore production target in the present setup.

"Since there was a dispute between the employees federations and government with regard to the terms of reference represented to the defence minister in October 2019, government has arbitrarily made the announcements on corporatisation of OFB by taking advantage of COVID-19 lockdown," joint statement by the defence employees federations alleged.

The federations also stated that the government decision has hurt the sentiments of 82,000 employees of ordnance factories who are working relentlessly in manufacturing of all types of PPEs required for medical fraternity for fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.