Defence Civilian Workers Call Off Strike, Campaign Against Corporatisation to Continue
The one month nationwide strike of over one lakh defence civilian employees of 41 Ordnance Factories, which started on August 20, has been called off from August 26. The decision has been taken by the Joint Action Committee, which comprises of three recognised federations who are leading the strike, after a meeting held on August 23, convened by the Secretary of Defence Production.
According to the statement released by the JAC, the federations and Confederation of Defence Recognised Associations (CDRA) have taken the decision in “good faith” and “employees will resume work from 6.00 AM of 26/08/2019.”
The decision has been taken after considering the assurances given by the Secretary of Defence Production that no final decision has been taken yet about the corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board. A high-level official committee will be constituted to examine the concerns expressed by the federations and CDRA.
The leadership of federations and CDRA also decided to meet after 15 days to decide about the centralised action programmes. In the mean time, campaigning programmes at local level against corporatisation of Ordnance Factories “should continue with the same vigour”, the statement added.
In case of any violation of the assurances given by the government then the federations and CDRA will go on a strike again, the statement added.
The ‘historic’ month-long strike, was one of the biggest in terms of number of workers’ participation, in the 218 years of history of Indian Ordnance Factories. The major demand at the heart of the strike is against converting the Ordnance Factory Board into a corporation/public sector undertaking (PSU) as a part of the 100 days programme of the Modi 2.0 government.
Cutting across political affiliations, the strike call was supported by all the three recognised federations, namely, All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF), Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) and even the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS).
With 82,000 defence civilian employees and 40,000 contract workers participating in the strike and raising a united voice against the corporatisation move of the Modi government for the past five days, media reports soon started surfacing about the scaling down of the Defence Production to zero level and loss estimates were made in case the strike continues.
Two meetings – one with the Chief Labour Commissioner on August 21 and another with the Secretary of Defence Production on August 23 – were held in the meantime, in which the employee federations raised concerns on the matters regarding the corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board. The meetings covered a range of issues related to benefits of employees and future orders for the proposed entities “in view of the difficulties faced in the present setup” among other things. As the strike is now postponed, a process of dialogue will be continued once again between the Ministry of Defence and the employee federations.
The strikes were also able to secure waves of support from every corner of the nation. The ten central trade unions had given a call to all their affiliated unions and independent federations to organise programmes on August 27 showcasing their solidarity with the striking defence employees. In addition to this, support calls were also given by the railway, bank and income tax employee federations.
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