Employees of the Ordnance factories throughout the country have announced that they will go on a month-long strike from August 20, to protest against the plans for privatization of defence production. Apart from a variety of protest actions at ordnance factories in different parts of the country, the employees have given a call for hunger strike in from of Parliament in New Delhi from August 20.
Trade unions – All India Defence Employees Federation, Indian National Defence Workers Federation and Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh – representing workers of 41 ordnance factories across the country, have given the call for the strike. They represent employees of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA). It has been reported that at a ballot conducted on July 30, more than 75% of the workers voted in favour of the strike action.
The agitating employees are opposing the government’s plans to convert the Ordnance Factory Board into a corporation, with the eventual aim of handing over defence production to private companies. The aim is for the Corporation to perform on the lines of global giants like Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems.
In several representations to the defence ministry, they have upheld that defence production is a sector of national strategic importance and should not be handed over to private companies. In a letter written recently to the Home Minister, the representatives of the trade unions of the ordnance workers have declared the steps being taken by the government to be “against the written commitment given to the three recognized federations” by the Ministry. They have called for “immediate withdrawal” of the steps being taken to corporatize ordnance factories.
This will be the second strike against privatization, by ordnance factory workers this year. Earlier, on January 23, nearly 4 lakh defence employees across the country had participated in strikes and protest actions at various places, including defence production plants at Ambarnath and Kandivili in Maharashtra, Naval Dockyard, Military Engineering Service and other ordnance plants and establishments.