22,000 workers from six OFs from MP join OFB strike

Jabalpur: All India employees take part in a protest rally against the Central government over the proposed privatization of 41 ordnance factories in Jabalpur

Around 22,000 civilian workers from six ordnance factories in Madhya Pradesh have joined the month-long nationwide strike demanding immediate withdrawal of the government's plans to 'corporatise' the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), a union leader said on Wednesday.

The ordnance factories in Madhya Pradesh are located in Jabalpur, Katni and Itarsi.

All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) Additional General Secretary B. Guha Thakurta told PTI from Jabalpur that around 82,000 workers from 41 Ordnance Factories (OFs) across the country have struck work since Tuesday.

"About 22,000 workers in four ordnance factories in Jabalpur and one each in Itarsi and Katni in Madhya Pradesh have joined the strike. The staffers of Kolkata-based OFB are also abstaining from work," he added.

He said the strike has been called after Union Cabinet decided to corporatise the OFB.

"This decision is detrimental to workers' interest," he added.

"Striking workers of Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), the maker of artillery guns and Howitzers including Bofors parts, and Ordnance Factory Khamaria (OFK) are engaged in manufacturing various types of ammunition for the Army and para-military forces," said Guha Thakurta.

The Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ) is a dedicated manufacturing unit to meet 'transport needs' of the armed forces.

It manufactures and assembles general staff vehicles, logistics vehicles, light armoured vehicles like bullet-proof vehicles, mine-protected vehicles and specialist role vehicles such as water bowsers, fuel tankers, field ambulances, tippers, battery command posts etc.

The Grey Iron Foundry (GIF), also based in Jabalpur, manufactures cast iron for the VFJ.

"The VFJ also manufactures bullet and mine-proofs vehicles for troubled areas including those affected by Naxalism," said the union leader.

Workers of OFs in Katni and Itarsi have also joined their counterparts from other units.

It may be noted that the Ministry of Defence had earlier clarified that it had no plan to privatise the ordnance factories.

Three federations of workers which have called the strike had claimed that 'corporatisation' of the Kolkata-headquartered organisation will eventually lead to its privatisation.

OFB chairman Saurabh Kumar had said in Kolkata that the proposed 'corporatisation' move by the Centre was aimed at providing greater flexibility in day-to-day functioning and increasing autonomy in decision-making.

A committee of senior officials of the defence ministry, led by additional secretary of the Department of Defence Production, along with the OFB chairman, had met the office-bearers of the federations on August 14 and August 16 to discuss the matter. 

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