Amid the din of opposition parties, Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill that prohibits strike or agitation of employees working in the ordnance factories. The Essential Defence Service Bill –2021 was passed by a voice vote without due discussion on the merits of the bill.
The bill was presented in the House by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt. During the presentation, the opposition continued its protest over Pegasus row and farmer's agitation.
The opposition objected to the bill calling it draconian, and a forceful government move to take away the worker's right to protest. But Ajay Bhatt informed the house that the government added a sunset clause to the bill, which gives it expiry date, reported NDTV.
In the defence of the bill, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Lok Sabha that only after the approval from the parliament and the president, the Act would be effective only when invoked. He said that it would be effective for only a year, and there might not arise a situation to invoke this Act at all.
The Essentials Of The Essential Defence Service Bill
The legislation empowers the government to declare certain services as essential defence services. These include the services that affect the production of defence equipment and goods, those that deal with the operationand maintenance of industries that produce equipment, and the services that work on repairs and maintenance of defence equipment.
It also prohibits strikes or agitation of the employees working in any of the essential defence service industries. Under the bill, a worker of such an establishment would not be able to refuse overtime work if that work is necessary for the maintenance of the defence services.
What Does The Bill Say?
The bill declares that its purpose is to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services to ensure the security of the nation.
Under the bill, mass causal leave, coordinated refusal, and lockouts in the essential defence services would be considered illegal. If a person employed in such services take part in any of these acts, they will be liable for imprisonment up to one year or a fine up to Rs 10000 or both.
The Timing of The Bill
The Essential Defense Service Bill was tabled after the employees of the Indian ordnance factories, the oldest and largest industrial set up under the Ministry of Defence, had called for indefinite strike from July 26.
The ordnance factories indigenously produce defence equipment for Indian defence forces, with an objective of self-reliance in equipping our county's armed forces.
The proposed strike was against the government's decision to convert 41 ordnance factories across India into seven 100 per cent government-owned corporate entities, reported The Print.
The bill will affect around 80,000 employees working in various Indian ordnance factories.