Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt stated the Essential Defence Services Bill in the Lok Sabha after three days of the beginning of the Monsoon session of Parliament. The purpose of bringing this bill is to rule out the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike.
It will replace the Essential Defence Services Ordinance, 2021, implemented on June 30, 2021. It permits the central government to ban strikes, lock-outs, and termination in essential defence services units.
Different terms used and their meaning
Essential Defence Services: It comprises (i) any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production of goods or equipment required for defence-related purposes, or (ii) any establishment of the armed forces or connected with them or defence. These also consist of services that, if stopped in effect, then would affect the protection of the establishment engaged in such services or its employees.
Moreover, the government may announce any service as an essential defence service if its stoppage would affect the:
- Production of defence equipment or goods.
- Operation or maintenance of industrial establishments or units engaged in such production.
- Repair or care of products connected with defence.
Strikes: As per the ordinance, the strike is referred to as cessation of work by a body of persons acting together. It comprises mass casual leave, collective refusal of any number of persons to continue to work or accept employment, denial to work overtime, where such work is vital for the maintenance of essential defence services, and any other conduct which results in, or is likely to result in, hindrance of work in essential defence services.
Ban on strikes, lock-outs, lay-offs: The central government may announce such order if necessary in the interest of: (i) sovereignty and integrity of India, (ii) security of any state, (iii) public order, (iv) public, (v) decency, or (vi) morality. The prohibition order will remain in effect for six months and may be extended by six months. The announcement of strikes and lock-outs after issuing the prohibition order or had begun prior to the prohibition order was issued will remain illegal. The prohibition will not function on lay-offs made due to power shortage, natural calamity or lay-offs of temporary or casual workers.
According to the news agency PTI, the central government said, “Indian Ordnance Factories is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence. 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.” Nearly 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories board (OFB) around the country.
Under the Department of Defence Production, the OFB was listed and operated as an arm of the government. The government has mentioned that the vision of this attempt is to enhance the efficiency and accountability of these factories.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had given assurance on June 16 that the interests of the OFB employees will be protected. “I assure that the service conditions of the employees will not be affected by the move,” said Singh.