Trade Unions, including BMS, to hold one-month strike at all ordnance factories

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on August 09, 2019 Published on August 09, 2019

C Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF   -  The Hindu

The main issue agitating the unions is the Centre’s unilateral decision to ‘corporatise defence factories’

All central trade unions, including the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), have declared a month-long strike starting August 20 at 41 Ordnance factories across the country.

The main issue agitating the unions is the Centre’s unilateral decision to ‘corporatise defence factories’.

The three trade unions - BMS’s Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh, INTUC-backed Indian National Defence Workers Federation and AITUC's All India Defence Employees Federation - alleged that the move to corporatise the factories is a violation of the agreement and assurance given by the government in the past.

The BJP leadership’s efforts to reach out to the BMS leadership have not succeeded so far. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held informal parleys with the BMS, but to no avail.

“The government will be responsible for this strike. Corporatisation is the first step before privatising the ordnance factories. This is against the national interest,” said BPMS general secretary Mukesh Singh. He had met the Defence Minister recently but did not get any assurance, he said.

Prior assurances

AIDEF general secretary C Srikumar told BusinessLine that at least four defence ministers, including late Manohar Parrikar, had given written assurance that the Centre will not corporatise ordnance factories. “It’s a 217-year-old establishment. From 17 factories in 1947, the country has 41 factories now. The demand from Army can change from time to time. So, maintaining ordnance units under the public sector is also important for national security. We have decided to go for an industrial action after a strike ballot which was supported by three-fourth of the 75 per cent workers who participated in it,” he added. The joint strike notice, signed by Sreekumar, Mukesh Singh and INDWF general secretary R Srinivasan has been pinned at all 41 factory gates, the trade union leaders said.

“The government neither bothered to respond to our representation nor invite us for a negotiation. Considering the unhelpful attitude of the Ministry of Defence, we have come to the conclusion that there is no other option other than to observe 30-day strike action demanding that the government withdraw the unilateral decision,” the leaders said in a communication to all their units.

Mukesh Singh added that there will be continuous demonstration/gate meetings/ rallies/ cadre meetings in front of all ordnannce factories on a daily basis, as decided by Joint Action Committee at the level of Factory/Area.

Earlier in January, more than 3.5 lakh defence workers took part in a three-day nation-wide strike calling for ‘nationalisation’ of defence production. The trade unions had termed the strike as a ‘patriotic’ for protecting the defence establishments.

Published on August 09, 2019

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