No privatisation, only corporatisation of ordnance factories, says India

File Photo: An artillery howitzer manufactured by Ordnance Factory Board on display at a defence show in New Delhi.

New Delhi: India’s Ministry of Defence today said it doesn’t intend to privatise the 41 ordnance factories, but only provide it a corporate character to ensure efficiency in their functioning.

At a meeting between the ministry officials’ committee and labour union leaders today, in continuation of a similar meeting held two days ago, it was clarified that the proposal before the government was to convert the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) into Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), by which the OFB would continue to remain state-owned.

The ministry officials included Additional Secretary from Department of Defence Production and OFB Chairman. The unions were represented by All India Defence Employees Federation, Indian National Defence Workers Federation, Bhartiya Pratiksha Mazdoor Sangh and Confederation of Defence Recognized Association. The meeting was also attended by officials from the Ministry of Labour and Employment of the Indian government.

The ministry officials informed the employees unions that their call for a 30-day strike of work from Aug. 20 was “unprecedented”, especially after the govertnemnt had agreed to their demand for discussion on the issue of corporatisation at the ministry level and while it was in the process of continuously engaging with them in discussions.

“The committee explained to the employee organisations that there is no proposal to privatise OFB. The proposal under consideration of government is to make it into Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), which is 100 percent government-owned,” the Ministry of Defence statement said.

“Rumours being spread that OFB is being privatised are misguiding and with the intent to mislead the workers. Corporatisation of OFB will bring OFB at par with other DPSUs of MoD,” it said.

“This is in the interest of OFB as it will provide operational freedom and flexibility to OFB which it presently lacks. Besides, the interests of the workers will be adequately safeguarded in any decision taken on the subject,” the statement added.

The committee also pointed out that government has been continuously trying to strengthen the functioning of OFB, including having taken several steps to modernise the factories, carry out capital upgradation, re-train and re-skill OFB employees at government costs, enable development of products and components with indigenous technology.

The committee urged the employee organisations to recognise government’s efforts to make OFB into a competitive, productive and efficient organisation with higher turnover and enhanced profitability, which would also be in the interest of the employees.

“Therefore, the committee once again urged the employee organisations to withdraw their proposed strike.”

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