On 16th June 2021, the central government announced the decision to dismantle the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and convert it into 7 corporations. The OFB is an umbrella body for ordnance factories and related institutions. It is currently a subordinate office of the Ministry of Defence and is a conglomerate of 41 factories, nine training Institutes, three regional marketing centres and five regional controllers of safety.
Immediately from 17th June, all sections of defence civilian employees began their protest against the planned corporatisation of ordnance factories.
On 20th June 2021, three federations, representing workers of 41 ordnance factories across the country – All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), Indian National Defence Workers Federation (INDWF) and Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) met and decided to vigorously oppose and fight back against this decision. In their Joint Circular they have stated that they will communicate their decision to the Government on 23 June 2021 and issue strike notice on 01 July 2021 commencing the Indefinite Strike from 19 July 2021.
A joint press release issued by the AIDEF, INDWF and BPMS has appealed to the people of country to support the protest against this move. The central trade unions have already extended their support to the protest of the defence civilian employees.
It should be noted that the central government has repeatedly made similar attempts to privatise the defence production sector including in 2020 and 2019. Every time ordnance factory workers struck work and forced the government to take its step back. The united struggle of workers had compelled six different defence ministers in the past to give written undertakings to not corporatise the OFB.
The unity of ordnance factory workers and their opposition to corporatisation is a source of inspiration to workers of all public sectors fighting against privatisation. In a strike ballot in 2020, over 99% defence civil workers had voted for a continuous strike to thwart the attempt to privatise the defence sector. They are aware that the dismantling of the OFB and its corporatisation is the first step towards privatisation.