Hyderabad:The strike by Over 80,000 workers from 41 Ordnance Factories (OF) across the country in protest against the proposed "corporatisation" of the Kolkata-headquartered Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the umbrella body for these factories, entered the fourth day on Friday.
The production in the OF was 'drastically' hit after the strike began on Tuesday. Apart from 82,000 permanent workers, about 40,000 contract workers also participated in the strike.
The strike has been a 'total' success in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrahakand, Bihar, Chandigarh where the Ordnance Factories are located as well as in the OFB in Kolkata.
The call for embarking on strike from August 20 to September 19 was given by 3 major Trade Unions--All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) , Indian National Defence Workers Federation (INDWF) and BMS-supported Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS).
Ahead of the strike, the discussions held between the Trade Unions and the Centre on Monday against the corporatisation of ordnance factories had failed.
The trade unions said their request to stop the corporatisation process was not considered by the Centre, and hence the three major trade unions went ahead with their strike call.
Secretary of Defence Production Ajay Kumar held discussions with the BMS-supported Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) and the Confederation of Defence Recognised Associations.
The meeting was boycotted by the INTUC-backed INDWF and AITUC-CITU-HMS supported AIDEF .
Expressing solidarity to the struggle of employees, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary and Communist Party of India (CPI) National Executive Member Ch Venkatachalam in a Circular to all its Units and Members said, from dawn on August 20, all industrial, non-industrial (Clerical, office staff), Junior Officers, Charge Hands have walked out of all the 41 Ordnance Factories (OF) against Government's plans to Corporatize and then to privatise them.
He told UNI that, on Day 1, the attendance in the Ordnanance Factories was 10.40% , Day 2 -7.09% and on Day 3 - 6.87%.Mr Venkatachalam said the 218-year-old Indian Ordnance Factories under the Ordnance Factory Board were all Government Departments now. The present BJP-led NDA Government has arbitrarily decided to convert these Factories into Corporation.
The CPI National Executive Member said, In the past also there were attempts and various Committees have recommended for the conversion of the Ordnance Factories into Corporation. However, these factories being war reserve and solely dependent upon the Armed Forces cannot function as a commercially viable or profitable units. These factories cater to the needs of the Defence forces, he added.
The then Defence Ministers ---George Fernandes, Pranab Mukherjee, A.K Antony, Manohar Parikkar have rejected the recommendations and had assured that these Factories would continue as Departments of the Government under the Ministry of Defence.
But the NDA Government has brought this as an agenda in its 100 days programme and has decided to corporatize the Ordnance Factories. The idea of the Central government is the first corporatize these Factories and then privatise them through disinvestments, etc. This move of the Government will put National Security at risk and hence is against National interest, Mr Venkatachalam said.
The top Union leader also said this move will also totally alter the status of the employees depriving them of all their existing benefits and rights. The Unions have been pleading with the Government not to proceed with their agenda of corporatization but it had decided to go ahead.
Hence the Unions gave the strike notice three weeks ago and have commenced the strike from August 20.The Government wanted these 41 Indian Ordnance Factories to produce Rs. 30,000 Crore worth of goods by 2024. The Unions have accepted the challenge, but they want the government to assure them that the plans to corporatize the ordnance factories will be shelved.
However, he said, the Government refused the plea of employees.The workmen in essential services like fire-fighting, water and electric supply, hospitals in the OF colonies have also struck work, but are back manning those services voluntarily, foregoing the salaries for the days of strike.
'We the bank employees under the banner of AIBEA greet these fighting comrades of Ordnance Factories and express its total solidarity with their justified struggle'.
Mr Venkatachalam called upon all the bank units and members in the concerned States to participate in the solidarity programmes and demonstrations organised locally in connection with OF employees strike.(UNI)