4 Lakh Defence Employees Plan Massive Protest

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New Delhi: 4 lakh employees are working with 41 ordnance factories, naval docks, and other productions units that form the backbone of the armed forces’ are readying them for a massive protest.

The multiple protests against the government’s move to increase privatisation in defence production beginning from Wednesday are likely to disrupt work in parts but experts say it is unlikely to change the Centre’s resolve, which they believe is the right way forward. They have now finalized the ‘strategic partnership’ policy that will see increased private participation in defence manufacturing in the coming years.

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On Wednesday, “no work” protest is planned in all of the ordnance factories, 52 Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) labs, naval docks, ship-building units, a few Indian Air Force stations, and defence PSUS.

The protests come after multiple attempts by the trade unions to secure a meeting with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley failed and letters to more than 60 members of parliament (MPs) including several on the Defence Standing Committee did not garner any response.  They have even written to Amit Shah and Sonia Gandhi. The Centre did not take us into confidence before taking such an important decision on privatisation. We are not just concerned about thousands of jobs that will be lost in the coming years, but also about the strategic issues,” All India Defence Employees’ Federation (AIDEF) General Secretary C Srikumar told TOI from Chennai.

Air Marshal (retd) BK Pandey, however, says: “Such turmoil is expected. But one must understand that increased private participation is the way forward, but the government must not expect results too quickly. This should not become like an election slogan. These protests will eventually fizzle out as it is unlikely to change the Centre’s resolve.”

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