Strikes, lock-outs by those engaged in essential defence services have been barred after President Ram Nath Kovind cleared the ordinance passed by the Union Cabinet. The Essential Defence Services Ordinance 2021 comes in the backdrop of the announcement by major federations of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to go on indefinite strike from July 26 in protest against the government's decision to corporatise the Board.
The government on June 16 approved a long-pending proposal to restructure the nearly 200-year-old Ordnance Factory Board that operates 41 ammunition and military equipment production facilities into seven state-owned corporate entities to improve its accountability, efficiency and competitiveness.
Six employees' union, covering 41 ordinance factories, in a joint meeting held on June 27 had decided to go on an indefinite strike against the proposed move and had conveyed their decision in a letter to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on June 29.
The President gave his assent to the ordinance on June 30, a day after the employees' union wrote to the Defence Minister.
The strike notice was to be served on the government on July 8.
According to the ordinance, Essential Defence Services means "any service in any establishment or undertaking dealing with production of goods or equipment required for any purpose connected with defence".
The essential defence services also include "any service in any establishment of or connected with the armed forces of the union or in any other establishment or installation connected with defence".
Any person who commences or instigates strike can be dismissed from service, according to the new law.
The ordinance also gives power to the centre to prohibit lock-outs and lay-offs.
The new law also gives power to any police officer to "arrest without warrant any person who is reasonably suspected to have committed any offence under this Ordinance".