Employees of Ordnance Factories will not fail the expectations of brave warriors of this nation, writes C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF)
For an Indian, patriotism is not just a feeling but an act as well. It comes in many forms; from fighting a war for the country to making a difference. But, making the fighters fight with the potency that is where the role of Ordnance Factories comes. Patriotism is also fighting for the values of democracy that we inherited through freedom struggle.
Ordnance Factories are the Force Behind the Forces. Collective ORDNANCE FACTORIES represents the spirit of workmanship, penchant for excellence and commitment for innovation. ORDNANCE FACTORIES's mission will be to win the next frontier of military technology by collaboration with the Users, whose interest drives the workforce to work by giving our sweat and blood. The temples of engineering of ORDNANCE FACTORIES have been built over the years through the dedication of these civilian warriors through their foresight and vision. A peculiar situation has happened, with thieves asking about credentials of Police. Credential about commitment of workforce of ORDNANCE FACTORIES and commitment to Nationalism.
ORDNANCE FACTORIES has always stood by the Armed Forces. War substance requires boosting of Arms and ammunition, for which ORDNANCE FACTORIES stretches itself and delivers them. Kelkar Committee report has made mention of the same. Although procurement from private does not materialise, or foreign supplies are unreliable like Krasonpol dud ammunition supplied during Kargil, ORDNANCE FACTORIES had risen to the trust of the customer. The success in the wars is largely credited to the valour of Indian Army, equipped with ammunition from ORDNANCE FACTORIES. Defective ammunition is more a myth than a reality.
We place on record our deep appreciation for the valour, courage and daring of our brave armed forces. At the same time, our workers worked day and night in all the Factories without even going to their houses weeks together and produced whatever was required for the Indian Army. The same was the situation in 1965 when India had driven back the Pakistan Army.
In 1971 when a new Country in the name of Bangladesh came up in the World Map, it was the Ordnance Factories which supplied all the fighting equipment and troop comfort items to the Army. The exemplary role played by the Ordnance Factories during the Kargil crisis was appreciated by the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the then President late K.Narayanan in the Parliament. The then Army Chief also appreciated the role of Ordnance Factories.
Such patriotism has been demonstrated time and again by ORDNANCE FACTORIES, not only during the times of War, but during the recent War against the COVID 19 Pandemic. Employees of ORDNANCE FACTORIES for sure will not fail the expectations of brave warriors of this nation.
The silent struggle of ORDNANCE FACTORIES workers inside factories
People are raising loss of lives during the usage of ammunition. Do the citizens of India know that in Ordnance Factory Khamaria, Jabalpur 41 workers have given their lives; in Ammunition Factory Khadki, Pune 46 workers have lost their lives, while making this ammunition? Like this many employees of Cordite Factory, Aruvankadu, Ordnance Factory Chanda, Ordnance Factory Varangaon, Ordnance Factory Itarsi, Ordnance Factory Bhandara and in many Ordnance Factories have lost their life while dealing with High Explosives, Chemicals, Ammunitions, Armaments etc., Efforts of ORDNANCE FACTORIES go unseen and unnoticed. Employees of ORDNANCE FACTORIES consider them as a professional hazard and consider this as their sacrifice for the nation without blaming anyone. The Nation and the Army has conveniently forgotten the sacrifice of the Civilian Employees of Ordnance Factories.
It is being told in many quarters that the deaths of Indian Armed Forces are linked to the casual attitude of ORDNANCE FACTORIES employees. The people of India must know that when the workmen violate the safety norms and guidelines for manufacture, they risk themselves. They are the first one to stand near the proof firing. They will be affected before it affects anyone else. They struggle with the antique designs and the powerful bureaucracy of AHSP that makes it difficult to make any change even for good. Stop blaming ORDNANCE FACTORIES.
And you will be shocked to know the amount of compensation they get in the name of Risk allowance, a paltry Rs 100. That does not stop them from delivering the best for the nation. The kind of compensation they get from the Workmen Compensation Act is in the range of Rs 10-20 lakhs depending on a number of factors. He works in the remote areas of Ammunition and Explosive Units and rarely gets an opportunity to get peace time posting. He risks his life to ensure that the life of a soldier is safe.
Recent Media reports link the unnatural deaths to defective ammunition. This is a mere correlation. The Defect investigation process brings the exact cause. Correlation is not the same as causation.
We regret the persistent attempt of the media led by some vested interest to malign ORDNANCE FACTORIES. Going by that logic, Indian Armed Forces can fight better without ammunition from ORDNANCE FACTORIES. Why are they calling ORDNANCE FACTORIES employee strike as untimely? In their reasoning, the Army may suffer fewer casualties, in case of a war. Why there is a clamour that ORDNANCE FACTORIES's strike will work against the nation. Instead, it is time for those retired Generals interests to celebrate that the Armed Forces will suffer less.
Recent strike, the timing of the announcement of GOI.
The question that is being raised in Media, when India is facing aggression at LAC, why the OF workers have called for a strike? Who is to blame? When the country was under lockdown, it is the ORDNANCE FACTORIES workers, who worker continuously and made the nation almost self-sufficient. ORDNANCE FACTORIES workers did not start this fight for the last two months but since August 2019. It is unfair to blame ORDNANCE FACTORIES's nationalism .It is just employees of ORDNANCE FACTORIES are standing in a stalemate situation due to the obstinate attitude of MOD. They would like to do their best inside the factory. But, in the long term interest of ORDNANCE FACTORIES so that it does not fall prey to private profit- mongering hands, they are planning to go for a strike.
Since 5 May 2020, Chinese and Indian troops have engaged in aggressive melee, face-offs and skirmishes at locations along the Sino-Indian border, Meanwhile, Finance Minister made announcement for corporatisation of ORDNANCE FACTORIES in May 16, 2020. The nation must know that who is the trouble creator?Why MOD could not engage in a constructive dialogue? Since, they have a fixed agenda. GOI after interference with PSUs is now making roads for their disinvestment. If anybody has to change first, it is the poor quality and delayed decision making of MOD.
War of the Workforce of ORDNANCE FACTORIES is for National Interest and Democracy
War is not only fought against external aggression, but against apparent injustice. War will be fought by employees of ORDNANCE FACTORIES to secure the assets of ORDNANCE FACTORIES continue to deliver value. Employees of ORDNANCE FACTORIES are not against any change, but they are aghast for a model of change which is being forced upon them, which has been forced to be failed in India by the Government itself. They are questioning the unholy intention of private players, with the support of MOD, with their evil eye cast on ORDNANCE FACTORIES.
We are shocked that most of the media reports have failed to question the MOD for the timing of making such a move in the name of Atma Nirbhar Bharat. Even before the Govt. of India thought about Atma Nirbhar Bharat, the Ordnance Factory employees are in the forefront for achieving this decades together. The country is proud of its uniformed soldiers who sacrifice their life for the Safety & Security of our country. The country should not forget the Civilian Employees of Ordnance Factories, who also Martyred their life for the Defence of our Country. A big salute to both the Martyrs without any discrimination.
Views expressed here are those of C.Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and also the Convener of PSU Unions of AITUC