Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board: 80,000 workers of 41 factories go on strike against Centre’s move

Around 80,000 workers of the 41 factories of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have gone on a month-long general strike since Tuesday after talks between the Trade Unions and the Centre on the proposed corporatisation of ordnance factories failed yesterday.

The three major trade unions have called for a strike against the Centre’s move to ‘corporatize’ the OFB, which is currently an ‘attached’ office of the government of India.

The trade unions claimed on Monday that their request to stop the corporatisation process was not accepted by the Centre and hence the strike had been planned. The union leaders claim that they were not consulted by the Centre for its proposal to turn the OFB into a public sector enterprise.

In a press release, Saurabh Kumar, Chairman and DGOF, Ordnance Factory Board, said, “It (the proposed corporatization of OFB) will enable the Ordnance Factories to respond faster to the futuristic needs of the Armed Forces and provide an impetus to the export potential of its products.”

On Monday, Secretary of Defence Production Ajay Kumar held talks the BMS-supported Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) and the Confederation of Defence Recognised Associations.

However, the meeting was not attended by the INTUC-backed Indian National Defence Workers Federation and AITUC-CITU-HMS supported All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) who boycotted the discussions.

AIDEF general secretary C Srikumar was quoted as saying by a business news portal that the trade unions have demanded that the ordnance factories must remain government departments and should not be converted as public sector establishments.

He added that the ordnance factories could continue to function as departmental organisation such as the Indian Railways, ISRO and the Department of Atomic Energy.

The ordnance factories are important as they manufacture artillery, tank guns, rifles, rocket launchers, and other such ammunition.

The T-90 tank, the Arjun tank, the T-72, armoured personnel carriers, night vision devices and also, uniforms, bridges, boats, different kinds of parachutes, truck and mine protected vehicles are all manufactured by the OFB.

As per sources, the Centre believes that corporatizing the OFB will improve operational flexibility and bring in autonomy. The move could also positively improve quality, reduce costs, and provide opportunities to the OFB to enter into joint ventures with the private sector and provide new technologies.

SOURCE

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