The staffers of Ordnance Factory Ambazari have joined the All India strike to protest against the government plan to run state-owned arms factories as corporate entities. The agitation would continue for one month. Various employees’ Unions have joined this agitation. On the first day of the stir, employees raised slogans outside the main gate of the ordnance factory.
Following the strike, operations in all 41 defence-equipment production units have come to a grinding halt. These units are currently working under the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). Government is mulling to convert them into Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) with 100 per cent government equity. However, the employees have been opposing the move. They alleged that converting the Ordnance Factories into corporate entities is the first step towards privatisation.
All India Defence Employees Federation, the Indian National Defence Workers Federation, the Bhartiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh and the Confederation of Defence Recognised Associations are supporting the strike, which has reportedly been supported by senior officials of the OFB as well.
The ordnance factories get 90 per cent of their orders from the Indian Army while the rest 10 per cent comes from various paramilitary forces. This means that all the purchases from these factories are made entirely by the government. Since sales are largely dependent on Union Budget, the employees’ federations argue that market principles should not be applied to defence factories.
According to agitating employees, the government has complete control on manufacture, raw materials to be used and what price to charge and whom to sell. In such a case, these units cannot be converted into corporate entities, which also sell their products to foreign players.
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