Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021: The government on 22nd July 2021 introduced a bill in Lok Sabha which seeks to prohibit any agitation and strike by anyone engaged in the essential defence services.
- The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, introduced by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt amid the din in Parliament over allegations of snooping by the government using the Pegasus spyware, and the three farm bills.
- The Bill states that it is essential that an uninterrupted supply of ordnance items to the armed forces should be maintained for the defence preparedness of the country and so the ordnance factories continue to function without any disruptions, especially in view of the prevailing situation on the northern front of the country.
- It was felt necessary that the government should have the power to meet the emergency created by such attempts and ensure the maintenance of essential defence services in all establishments connected with defence, in the public interest or interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India or security of any State or decency or morality.
- The Bill grants power to the government to act in case of a strike against the corporatisation of ordinance factories.
- If this bill is passed it will come into effect from 30th June 2021.
- This Bill is introduced with the aim to prevent the staff of all the government-owned ordnance factories across the country from going on a strike.
- Note: Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country.
- The Bill mentioned that it is meant to “provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as to secure the security of the nation and the life and property of public at large and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
- According to its objectives, the government has stated that Indian Ordnance Factories (IOF) is the oldest and largest industrial set up which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
- 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 government has claimed that this bill is being introduced with the primary aim of improving the service, accountability and efficiency of these factories. Also, that by going on strikes doesn’t disrupt the defence services of the nation.
Who will be affected?
- This bill will directly affect around 70,000 employees who are currently employed in the 41 ordnance factories across the nation.
- These employees are unhappy with the government’s decision to corporatize the OFBs, fearing that their service and retirement conditions will be affected.
- The government has given them the assurance that it will not be affected even after the OFBs are corporatized.
- On June, 16, 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 recognized federations of the employees have reiterated their intention to go on an indefinite strike from July 26.
- The Statement of Objects said the ordinance issued on June 30 defines the expressions “essential defence services” and “strike”.
- It empowers the central government to prohibit strikes in essential defence services and provides for disciplinary action, including dismissal, against employees participating in strikes.
- It also provides for penalties for “illegal strikes, instigation thereof and providing for financial aid to such illegal strikes.”