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India bans defence industrial work strikes

The Indian government has issued an ordinance to illegalise strikes invoked by personnel engaged in defence production and related services.

The move is an apparent direct response to trade union plans – announced in June – to hold an “indefinite strike” in response to the government's proposal to corporatise the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), a network of 41 state-owned defence factories that employ nearly 80,000 workers.

The ‘Essential Defence Services Ordinance 2021' was enacted on 31 June by the Indian Ministry of Law and Justice and introduces fines and jail terms for any unauthorised work strikes.

“Any person who commences a strike, which is illegal under this ordinance – or goes or remain on, or otherwise takes part in, any such strike – shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term [that] may extend to one year or with fine [that] may extend to INR10,000 (USD134) or both,” states the legal directive.

According to the ordinance, anyone instigating, inciting, or providing financial support for illegal strikes will also be punishable with imprisonment for up to two years as well as fines of up to INR15,000.

The ordinance states that the legal directive is applicable to employees involved in the production of defence equipment or the provision of any related operations and maintenance services including those employed by industrial entities connected with the military.

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