Daily News Analysis

Essential Defence Services Bill

24th July, 2021 Security and Defence


  • Minister of State for Defence introduced the Essential Defence Services Bill in the Lok Sabha.


What is the Essential Defence Services Bill?

  • It is aimed at preventing the staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike.
  • Around 70,000 people work with the 41 ordnance factories around the country.
  • It mentioned that that it is meant to “provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as to secure the security of nation and the life and property of public at large and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
  • Indian Ordnance Factories is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence.
  • The ordnance factories form an integrated base for indigenous production of defence hardware and equipment, with the primary objective of self reliance in equipping the armed forces with state of the art battlefield equipment.


What does it allow the government to do?

  • It empowers the government to declare services mentioned in it as essential defence services “the cessation of work of which would prejudicially affect the production of defence equipment or goods; or the operation or maintenance of any industrial establishment or unit engaged in production of goods or equipment required for any purpose connected with defence; or repair or maintenance of products connected with defence”.
  • It also prohibits strike and lockouts in “any industrial establishment or unit engaged in essential defence services”.


Why does the government feel its need?

  • In June the government announced corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board, under which the 41 factories ammunition and other equipment to the armed forces will become part of seven government owned corporate entities.
  • The OFB was directly under the Department of Defence Production and worked as an arm of the government.
  • The government has claimed that the move is aimed at improving the efficiency and accountability of these factories.
  • The Bill mentioned that there is a threat, though, that the employees of these factories can go on a strike against the decision.


Who will it affect?

  • It has a direct bearing on around 70,000 employees of the 41 ordnance factories around the country, who are unhappy with the corporatisation of OFB, fearing that it will impact their service and retirement conditions.
  • If passed it will come into effect retrospectively from June 30, when the ordinance was promulgated.