OFB employees boycott online meetings organised by the Defence Ministry

Various employees’ unions – associated with the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board dissolved by the Modi government – have boycotted online meetings held by Defence Ministry to restructure the cadres

Representative photo
Representative photo

NH Political Bureau

Various employees’ unions – associated with the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) dissolved by the Modi government on October 1, in tune with the Cabinet decision taken on June 16 – have boycotted online meetings held by the Directorate of Ordnance (Coordination and Services, Defence Ministry) to restructure the cadres.

Protesting the online meetings, unions in a joint letter sent to the Secretary (Defence and Procurement) stated that “such type of meetings where a lot of consultations are required cannot be held through video conference”.

Questioning the rationale behind the online meetings, the unions pointed out that these days meetings are held physically, and the unions too had had a one-on-one meeting with the defence minister on July 17.

“Issues which have far-reaching implications on the future of the various cadres of the Ordnance Factories cannot be taken so lightly and meetings on such major policy matters cannot be treated in a casual manner. Therefore, we are not in a position to attend such important meetings through video conference” read the letter.

Significantly, the letter of protest was sent to the government weeks after the Union government promised the employees to address their grievances.

Union leaders believe this shows that the government is non-committal. Talking to National Herald, C Srikumar said, “No order has been issued by the Modi government on the assurances given by the additional secretary (DP)”

In a meeting between the representatives of the unions and the additional secretary (Department of Procurement, Defence Ministry) held in the second week of this month, the Secretary on behalf of the government has promised to fullfill demands raised by the OFB unions.

“He (Secretary, DP, Defence Ministry) even appreciated the federations for their supports during the transition phase and reiterated the directives of Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh to continue interactions with the federations to discuss the issues or apprehensions arising after corporations of OFB,” said a source who was attended the meeting.

National Herald has earlier reported that due to rising distrust between the Modi government and the OFB employees, about 80000 employees observed a two-day nationwide protest from 8 December to 10 December

Opposing corporatization of the 246-year-old OFB, employees have demanded that the working hours should be decreased from 48 hours per week to 44 hours. They have also demanded wages for extra duty hours besides medical help, the release of the GPF in time and other facilities at par with the Central government employees.

Defence analysts believe that the corporatization of defence factories may eventually open the door for the private players in the defence sector.

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