Ordnance Factory Board workers call off strike

File photo of an Ordnance Factories Board strike. DH photo

Civilian workers of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) called off their strike on Saturday, as the agitation entered its fourth day in what had been an attempt to defeat a plan by the central government to corportize their factories.

In a statement released on Saturday, the primary unions involved in the strike, the All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), the Indian National Defence Workers Federation (INDWF) and the RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), said that the strike was ended following a meeting with the Chairmanship of the Secretary, Department of Defence Production during which it was recommended that the government would set up a high level official committee to interact with employees federation to examine their concerns.

Mukesh Singh, General Secretary of the BPMS, added that a key concession which unions had secured from the government was a written agreement that the centre would not privatize the Factories. “If we don’t get this written assurance, the strike will be resumed at a future date,” he said.

A source added that: “The agreement will be delivered on Sunday or Monday.”

Few workers believe that the government will stop at mere corporatization, said Ms Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). “Look at BSNL. The government said they would only corporatize the company, instead, they are selling off the company’s towers and assets to private companies,” she said.

She asserted that in this government’s parlance, corporatization is a codeword for privatization, and said that the centre was announcing to the world that the country was up for sale. “Their actions will push us back to the British colonial era,” she said.

It is a fear compounded by an August 20 announcement by Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh who urged” foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to establish manufacturing facilities in India, adding that a number of opportunities are available to foreign companies through 100% FDI, Joint Ventures or the defence offset route.”

The workers are due to return to work on Monday, August 26.

On Tuesday, Singh had hinted that modernization of the armed forces is not possible without “increased participation of the private sector in ‘Make in India’ in defence sector.”

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