Defence service Bill isn't automatic, in effect only for a year: defence official

6th Aug,2021

Defence service Bill isn't automatic, in effect only for a year: defence official

The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, passed in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday does not come into effect unless it is invoked and is in place for only one year, said a defence official.

The Bill was put into effect to prevent the employee unions of the Ordnance Factory Board from going on strike against the corporation plan that was announced.

“There is a sunset clause introduced in Clause 1 as the amendment. It is applicable only for one year, after which it will be over” the official said. “It does not come into effect by default. Employees have the right to peacefully protest.”

The Bill also did not violate the International Labour Organisation Convention. It was meant to ensure continuous supply to the Services, which was “especially essential in the current situation”, the official stated.

*Cabinet nod*

On June 16, the Cabinet also approved the plan to convert 41 factories into seven government-owned corporate entities for better management and improved efficiency. Following this, the federations had written a letter to the Defence Minister and Secretary Defence Production criticizing the move. During a joint meeting later, they announced a plan to go on an indefinite strike.

The government then promulgated the Essential Defence Services Ordinance - 2021, which bans all strikes by defence-civilian employees. This was also criticized by five OFB unions, which called it “draconian”.

The corporation into Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) would allow them autonomy as well as help improve accountability and efficiency, another official mentioned.

This restructuring was targeted at transforming the ordinance factories into productive and profitable assets, deepening specialisation in the product range, enhancing competitiveness and improving quality and cost-efficiency, the official added.