Defence civilian staff name off indefinite strike towards transfer to corporatise ordnance factories

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9

Following a conciliation meeting on Friday, the employees of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have called-off their indefinite strike proposed from October 12 to protest against the government’s move to corporatise the ordnance factories.

In July this year, the Central government had decided to convert the OFB, a subordinate office of the Ministry of Defence that produces a wide range of weapons and equipment for the armed forces and other government agencies, into one or more than one 100 per cent government owned corporate entities registered under the Companies Act, 2013.

Against this decision, a joint strike notice was issued by all three federations of defence civilian employees on August 4, 2020 – proposing to call an indefinite strike from October 12.

In September 2020, the Defence Ministry had referred the matter to the Chief Labour Commissioner in the Ministry of Labour and Employment to initiate conciliation in the matter.

It was agreed by the representatives of the federations and officials of the Defence Ministry that during the pendency of on-going conciliation proceedings, the Ministry will abide by the provisions of Section 33(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which stipulates that the employer cannot alter the conditions of service of the employees till the conclusion of conciliation proceedings. However, it will not affect the government’s decision to corporatise Ordnance Factory Board, the Defence Ministry said in a statement issued late this evening.

The Defence Ministry has also stated that the move to corporatise the OFB into government owned entities, which the employees’ unions had termed as unilateral and demanded its withdrawal, is not privatisation and that the interests of the existing employees would be safeguarded.

Both sides also agreed that the matter required further discussions and deliberations.

The Defence Ministry has also invited the representatives of the federations to meet the Secretary, Department of Defence Production, and the Empowered Group of Ministers to put forward their issues and grievances.

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