Lok Sabha passes Essential Defence Services Bill-2021

Lok Sabha passed the Essential Defence Services Bill-2021 on August 3, 2021 that seeks to prevent workers of government-owned ordnance factories from going on strike to oppose corporatization of units.

About Essential Defence Services Bill-2021

  • Bill gives power to the government to declare services mentioned in it as essential defence services.
  • Cessation of work of such essential services would prejudicially affect the production of defence equipment or goods, operation or maintenance of industries or unit engaged in production of goods or equipment or repair or maintenance of products connected with defence.
  • Bill also prohibits strike and lockouts across industrial establishment or unit engaged in essential defence services.
  • Bill mentions the threat of strike by workers’ unions in section titled as “statement of objects and reasons”.

Definition of strike

Bill defines the action of strike as “cessation of work, go-slow, stay-in, sit down, token strike, sympathetic strike or mass casual leave by persons engaged in essential defence services who are acting in combination or concerted refusal or refusal under common understanding of persons who are so engaged to continue to work or to accept employment”.

Background

  • In June 2021, union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given nod for corporatization of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), under which 41 factories involved in production of ammunition and other equipment for armed forces will become part of seven government-owned corporate units.
  • OFB was earlier managed by department of defence production and worked as an arm of the government.
  • OFB is being corporatize with the aim of improving efficiency and accountability of 41 units.

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