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Defence Unions Decry Centre for not Keeping Word on Service Norms for Erstwhile OFB Employees

According to the federations, normal working hours in at least one of the 7 defence PSUs were amended this month; enlisting their 11 demands, the unions have issued a “notice of agitation”.
Defence Unions Decry Centre for not Keeping Word on Service Norms for Erstwhile OFB Employees,

Image Courtesy: National Herald

New Delhi: Recognised employees federations of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which was corporatised and dissolved into seven defence PSUs about a month ago, have called out the Centre for not keeping its promise to not dilute their service conditions.

The federations said after their opposition to the corporatisation of the OFB earlier this year, fearing that the conversion of the erstwhile government department into a corporate entity would result in dilution of service conditions of the defence workforce, the Centre had assured them that nothing of that sort would happen.

“The government ensured us of safeguarding the interests of the employees”,” said the federations, adding that the assurances are “only on paper and practically all service norms are being blatantly violated.”

Less than a month ago, OFB, overseeing 41 ordnance factories across the country, was dissolved into seven defence public sector undertakings (PSUs), adding that the recent orders had prompted them to write a letter to the Secretary (DP), Department of Defence Production.

The letter, written on Sunday, alleged that the management of the newly formed corporations were taking “unilateral” decisions on service matters of the defence civilian employees by “wilfully violating” the Centre’s OFB corporatisation order.

The letter was signed by All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF), RSS-backed Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), and Confederation of Defence Recognised Federations (CDRA).

According to the federations, the normal working hours in at least one of the seven defence PSUs were changed this month. The unions cited an “instruction” dated October 18, issued by the Yantra India Limited, that carries “different” office timings for different levels of employees “within the same Factory.”

This, as per the federations, violates the government orders that specify the normal working hours in the OFB irrespective of the category of employees at 44 hours and 45 minutes per week.

Newsclick wasn’t able to independently verify the “instruction”, cited by the unions. 

Furthermore, the unions alleged that, in another order issued by Yantra India Limited, the ceiling limit of 75% of piece work profit was withdrawn in an “arbitrary” manner.

Another issue raised by the defence federations pertained to overtime wages of the ordnance factory hospital employees. It has been alleged that despite being deployed extra hours, these employees are not paid for overtime.

“If this type of harassment and illegal decisions by the corporations continues, then we will be forced to plunge into various agitations in all the 41 ordnance factories,” the federations said in their letter on Sunday.

Enlisting their 11 demands, the defence unions also issued a “notice of agitation”, giving the Centre a period of 10 days to address their grievances, the  failure of which will force the federations  “to launch various action programmes.”

Their demands include: maintaining normal working hours for defence employees, no withdrawal of 75% piece work profit limit and no disturbance in the medical facilities of the employees engaged in defence equipment manufacturing. 

The OFB was a 246-year-old umbrella body with manpower of up to 76,000 defence civilian employees. The seven new defence companies, formed after the dissolution of OFB, were formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a video conference on October 15.

The inauguration event was boycotted by defence employees in protest.

Earlier last month, issuing an order for OFB ‘s corporatisation, the Centre had said that all OFB employees from different production units would be transferred to the corporate entities on deemed deputation for an initial period of two years. During this period, as per the decision, service conditions of the defence employees, earlier treated as government employees, would not alter.

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