Left trade unions to go on month-long strike at ordnance factories against privatisation; RSS labour wing lends support

Nearly 85,000 workers in 41 ordnance factories have decided to go on a month-long nation wide strike from August 20 to protest the Centre’s reported move towards the organisation’s privatisation. The strike has been called by the Left unions, but even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) labour wing Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is supporting the strike. The strike will continue till September 19.

There are three main federations of the trade unions covering most ordnance factory employees. The Left and the BMS are two of the three main federations. So far, BMS has always refrained from taking any anti-Union government stand since the NDA government came to power.

Even the trade union affiliated to the Trinamool – which is against all kinds of strike – has also decided to support this particular strike.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had two weeks ago written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting a rethink on the process of corporatising ordnance factories for the sake of national security and the country’s defence.

“I have been receiving reports regarding a decision that the Government of India has apparently been taking to corporatise all the Ordnance Factories including the Ordnance Factory Board, with its Head Quarters in Kolkata. It has also been suggested that this will finally lead to privatisation of these great national assets,” Banerjee had written in her letter.

The OFB has 41 factories with over 200 years of experience in defence production. It is involved in production, testing, logistics, research, development and marketing of a range of products in land, sea and air systems, according to its website.

Indian Ordnance Factories is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the department of defence production of the Ministry of Defence. It has about 1.6 lakh officers and employees and nine training institutes across the country.

Banerjee in her letter had also written that she was shocked and surprised “to know that this vital pillar of the country’s defence and this key industrial initiative for our land is now being contemplated to be subjected to a sudden exercise of degovernmentalisation for which there has been not even an iota of stakeholders’ consultations uptill now”.

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