In what the unions have called a “retributive measure”, the salaries of 82,000 defence civilian employees and 40,000 thousand contract workers have been cut for the period of their nationwide strike, which lasted for six days last month, from August 20 to August 25.
The August 26 circular issued by the Ordnance Factory Board instructed all the General Managers of the factory units “to not regularise the strike period of their own for any category of employees,” which translates to withholding of the payment.
Factories have been directed to prepare a list of all such employees, who were absent and send it to OFB, the circular added.
“The management, in this case, has construed the employees’ absence from work during the strike period as an unauthorised absent,” C Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) told NewsClick, adding that, “it goes against the provisions of the stipulated Indian laws, as the strike was legal and justified.”
Also read: Over 1 Lakh Civilian Defence Workers go on Nationwide Strike Against Corporatisation
The defence civilian employees working in the Ordnance Factories are governed under the Industrial Dispute Act 1947 and the Trade Union Act 1926 among others. According to the federations, the strike was observed in a lawful manner.
“A strike ballot was conducted with more than 75% of the members participating in it and the management was informed about the strike by way of a strike notice,” Srikumar said.
In such cases, when the absence from work is due to participation in a legal strike, the department does not have the power to cut the salaries of the employees, he added.
The recognised federations of the employees expressed their disappointment with the decision of the board in a joint letter dated September 17 sent to the Chairman of the OFB.
The three unions are All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF), Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) and even the RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS).
In addition to this, the employees’ fronts had earlier also raised their doubts over the “intention” of the government in considering the issues raised by the federations.
According to the federations, 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. However, no high level committee has been formed yet to address the issues raised by the federations.
Also read: Defence Civilian Employees to Launch 2nd Phase of Anti-corporatisation Agitation
“The federations are closely observing the developments with regards to the corporatisation of the Ordnance Factories based on which a second phase of agitation will be called, if needed,” Srikumar said.
Over one lakh defence civilian workers went on a historic nationwide strike against the corporatisation of ordnance factories on August 20.