All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), on Tuesday, September 10, gave a clarion call to all the defence civilian employees to be prepared for the second phase of agitation against the corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. The call was given as the federation has received no positive indication from the Modi Government to address the grievances and reservations of the employees.
In a video message, C Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, can be seen praising the unity and strength of 82,000 defence employees and 40,000 contract workers who took part in the one-month “historic” strike which lasted for six days. The strike call was supported by all the three recognised federations including Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) and even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS).
The strike was “called off” after receiving written assurances from the Secretary of Defence Production which had clarified that the government has not yet taken any decision and the concerns of the federations will be considered.
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However, terming the “victory” as temporary which only provided an interim stop to the Modi government’s plan to corporatise the 41 Ordnance Factories as part of its 100 days programme, Srikumar had asked the employees to be ready to fight back again in case of any violation of the assurances that were given by the government.
“The three federations had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office on September 3 detailing all our arguments against the corporatisation move of the government,” Srikumar told NewsClick, adding that a copy of it was submitted to all the members of the cabinet committee on security. The decision to turn Ordnance Factories into a Public Sector Unit is before the cabinet committee on security.
However, according to him, no response has yet been received, raising doubts over the “intention” of the government in considering the issues raised by the federations.
The cabinet committee on security is under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including other prominent figures such Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Subramanyam Jaishankar.
Even the high level official committee has not been formed yet which was supposed to address the issues raised by the employees and the federations, he added.
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In a press release confirming the calling off of the Ordnance Factories strike, Ministry of Defence had agreed to the recommendation of setting up a High Level Official Committee to “interact with the employees federation to examine their concerns and other aspects of the proposed new entity.”
The Indian Ordnance Factories are engaged in production and development of a comprehensive range of defence hardware and equipment – from ammunitions to army uniforms – for the Indian armed forces.
According to Srikumar, the call to be ready for a second phase of agitation is being supported by all the three recognised federations and in the coming days the strike which was only “deferred” will be called again, in case the Modi Government “arbitrarily” decides to corporatise the Ordnance Factories.