BENGALURU: The three major defence employees unions—which together represent 4 lakh defence staff across 41 ordnance factories, 52 DRDO labs, the three armed forces, shipping docks, et al—have written to all recognised political parties that their demands be included as part of their manifestos in the upcoming elections.
The unions have three major demands: One, to expand, develop and strengthen state-owned defence industry to help India become self-reliant; two, scrapping of the new pension scheme and restore guaranteed pension; and three, allow appointment on compassionate grounds.
“National security is very important and as our armed forces play a constructive and sacrificing role, it is the defence employees like us that equip them,” the unions said.
Notwithstanding the contribution of the state-owned defence industry and establishments, the unions feel that of late, these industries are under serious threat.
“After the implementation of the neo-liberal economic policy of 100% privatisation, and 100% FDI in defence, more than 275 products have been declared as non-core allowing the armed forces to purchase them from private industry,” the unions quipped.
They added that large scale outsourcing has resulted in more than 1.5 lakh civilian posts in the defence industry remaining unfilled. “Out right privatisation of defence industry is against the interest of national interest,” the unions argue.
Urging political parties to consider their demands and include them in their manifestos, the three unions—All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), Indian National Defence Workers Federation (INDWF) and the Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS)—have claimed that their demand was in national interest.
The defence unions have been protesting against several policies of the incumbent government, and have gone on strike multiple number of times in the past five years, including complete stay-away for three days earlier in January.
“There is a huge problem in the way things are being decided. One, they do not consider views of all stakeholders and expect us to just toe the line after a decision is made, and two, the decisions too are not in the long-term interests of the country,” C Srikumar, general secretary, AIDEF, said.