Ordnance Factory Board employees in crisis; to hold protest in all 41 factories against corporatisation
About 80000 employees working in 41 ordnance factories, which have been merged into 7 corporations in September this year have decided to launch a two-day nationwide protest from 8 Dec to 10 Dec
The distrust – between the Modi government and employees working in 41 ordnance factories that produce arms, ammunition and are engaged in research, development and production of equipment vital for national security – is growing.
About 80000 employees working in erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) comprising 41 ordnance factories have decided to launch a two-day nationwide protest from 8 December to 10 December.The Narendra Modi government has merged 41 ordnance factories into seven corporations in September this year which employees perceive as “disintegration of the OFB.”
Releasing a 20-point demand letter on Thursday, three different federations of the employees in a joint letter asked the government to resolve the issue within 10 days.
When asked whether the employees will halt production in case the government does not fulfil their demands, C Srikumar, general secretary, All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) said, “Stopping the work at factories is not possible as the Modi government has imposed Essential Defence Services Act (EDSA), passed by the Parliament.”
The act criminalizes strike/halting production in ordnance factories. While AIDEF has filed a petetion against the EDSA in Delhi High Court, it has filed a case against the corporatization of ordnance factories in Madras High Court.
Seen by National Herald, the joint letter – that was sent to the defence secretary, director general ordnance and chief labor commissioner, on November 16 – reiterates the grievances put forth by the employees at various times in the past. National Herald reported on October 20, how employees of the ordnance factories were forced to work for more than 44 hours in a week.
“The Cabinet decision to protect the service conditions of the Employees and applicability of all the extant rules and regulations which are applicable to Central Government employees including related to their pay scales, allowances, leave, medical facilities career progression and other service conditions are blatantly being violated by the 7 Corporations,” reads the joint letter.
Saying that “the merger is the first direction towards the privatisation” of ordnance factories, Srikumar said, “Despite multiple attempts made by us, Modi government did not listen to us. We have so far submitted five representations before the government regarding difficulties faced by the employees but nothing happened.”
Accusing the management of the seven newly formed corporations of ‘anti-employee attitude’ the unions have asked the government to “restrain the seven corporations from unilaterally and whimsically altering the
service conditions of the employees of Ordnance Factories”.
Urging the government to “maintain the normal working hours of the ordnance factories as 44 ¾ hours per week,” the unions said, “If employees are deployed for additional work, then they should be paid overtime allowance/wages including to the Industrial”.
“No disturbance in the medical facilities of the employees and required funds may be provided for medical reimbursement claims,” demanded the unions. Besides, unions urged the Modi government:
To ensure regular payment of GPF withdrawals.
To grant compassionate appointment to the Dependent of the deceased employees without further delay.
To settle all the pending inter factory/inter directorate transfer cases.
To implement all the Cadre Review proposals of different categories and no abolition of the sanctioned posts in all categories.
To ensure all the payments/benefits such as medical reimbursement, LTC, CEA etc.
To stop throwing out existing contract workers from their job.
To ensure proper functioning of all industrial relation machineries including JCM.