Government introduces The Essential Defence Services Bill in Lok Sabha

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 22, 2021

Bill grants power to the government to act in case of strike against corporatisation of ordinance factories

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday introduced ‘The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021’ in Lok Sabha to empower the Central government to regulate uninterrupted supply of arms, ammunitions and other goods and services to the Armed Forces in case of a strike against a decision to corporatise the Ordnance Factories.

The Bill will replace the ordinance promulgated on June 30.

As mentioned in the ordinance, the Bill intends to define the expressions such as ‘essential defence services’ and ‘strike.’ It aims to empower the Central government to prohibit strike in essential defence services and prescribes for disciplinary action, including dismissal, against employees participating in strike.

The Bill’s provisions

It has a provision to levy penalties for illegal strikes, instigation thereof and besides to provide for financial aid to such illegal strikes. It also confers power on any police officer to arrest without warrant any person who is reasonably suspected to have committed any offence under the proposed legislation.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, Indian Ordnance Factories is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the Department of Defence Production. The ordnance factories form an integrated base for indigenous production of defence hardware and equipment, with the primary objective of self-reliance in equipping the armed forces with state-of-the-art battlefield equipment.

The statement further mentioned that to improve autonomy, accountability and efficiency in ordnance supplies, the government decided to convert the Ordnance Factory Board into one or more fully government-owned corporate entity or entities. Against this decision, the recognised federations of the employees gave a notice for an indefinite strike. The conciliation proceedings initiated by the government at the level of Chief Labour Commissioner failed in the meeting held on June 15. Next day, the government decided to convert the Ordnance Factory Board into seven Defence Public Sector Undertakings.

“In spite of the government’s assurance to take care of the conditions of service of the employees of the Ordnance Factory Board, the recognised federations of the employees have reiterated their intention to go on indefinite strike from July 26, 2021,” the statement said.

Published on July 22, 2021

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