Govt pushes Bill that bars ordnance factory workers from going on strike through Lok Sabha
The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, seeks to prevent employees of state-owned ordnance factories from going on strike. The Opposition members have alleged that the Bill is undemocratic and draconian.
Amidst protest by the Opposition members over a slew of issues, including the Pegasus snooping scandal, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021.
The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, seeks to prevent employees of state-owned ordnance factories from going on strike. The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for approval.
The Opposition members have alleged that the Bill is undemocratic and draconian.
MoS Defence Ajay Bhatt said that Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021 is not unconstitutional as claimed by the Opposition.
"We know the situation in the north (Ladakh and PoK). We can't afford to lose our forces due to lack of the resources," he said,
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the government of throttling democracy while fellow Congress MP Manish Tewari termed it as "draconian".
Understand Essential Defence Services Bill
Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country. These workers have been apprehensive about the future since the government announced the corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board.
As per the May 2020 decision, the government would convert the production units of OFB into seven Defence Public Sector Undertakings to enhance their efficiency, functional autonomy and unleash innovation in ordnance factories.
The government has since then held various discussions with the OFB employees federations regarding corporatisation. The employees have since been contemplating going on strike against the decision.
Earlier this week, the government had assured the employees that their interests would be safeguarded.
Introduced last week, the Bill seeks to 'provide for the maintenance of essential defence services to secure the nation's security and the life and property of public at large.
The Bill would replace the Essential Defence Services Ordinance, 2021, which was promulgated on June 30, 2021.
It allows the central government to prohibit strikes, lock-outs and lay-offs in units engaged in essential defence services.
The new proposed version seeks to ensure the continued supply of arms, ammunition and other good and services to the Indian armed forces in case of a strike against the decision to corporatise the artillery factories.