Modi govt dissolves 246-year-old Ordnance Factory Board; sparks anger among workers
As per Centre’s plan, management, control, operations and maintenance of all 41 production and non-production units under OFB would be transferred into seven government-owned companies
Established in 1775 by the British govt, the 246-year-old Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) – the third-largest defence manufacturer in the world and the second-largest in Asia – has been dissolved by the Modi government with effect from October 1.
A notification pertaining to the dissolution of the OFB, which comes under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), was issued on September 24. It reads, “Accordingly, on and with effect from the appointed date, OFB, which has been set up vide MoD shall cease to exist as a body. Further the Board position of member (Finance), OFB shall also cease to exist on and with effect from the appointed date.”
As per the plan, the management, control, operations and maintenance of all 41 production units and non-production units would be transferred into seven government-owned companies.
It is worth recalling here that in June this year, the Modi government had, through an ordinance, announced the corporatization of OFB. As per the plan rolled out by the government, 41 ordnance factories will be merged into seven companies.
National Herald reported how the corporatization of defence factories may eventually open the door for the private players in the defence sector.
Lakhs of workers associated with different unions had organized nationwide protests in July against the corporatization bid pushed by the Modi government.
“All these measures are going to severely weaken the indigenous production network of all basic requirements of the defence forces, much to the detriment of national interests,” said the CTUs in a statement then.
Workers unions said the mergers will render thousands jobless. Currently, 80000 employees are working in different ordnance factories, and they are opposed to the move.
In a joint statement, three defence employees associations – All India Defence Employees Federation, Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation and Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh – had stated that the entire workforce of ordnance factories and four lakh defence civilian employees rejected the decision of the government as it is against past written agreements and assurances given by successive government in the last over 20 years.
An employee and workers’ leader told NH over the phone that, “Financial uncertainty looms. Rretrenchment will be done on a mass scale”.
Published: 29 Sep 2021, 3:26 PM