The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has asked the Centre to submit its observations to complaints filed by Left-backed the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) against the law prohibiting strikes in defence production sector.

The ILO initiated the proceedings earlier this month seeking observations from the Centre while its Committee on Freedom of Association has also sought more information from the CITU and All India Trade Union Congress AITUC.

In separate letters to CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen and his AITUC counterpart Amarjeet Kaur, ILO's Freedom of Association Branch chief Karen Curtis said the Committee on Freedom of Association would proceed with examining the substance of the complaints "even if the government's observations have not been received after a reasonable period of time".

Sen and Kaur had separately filed complaints against the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, last month, soon after the government listed it for passing in the Parliament. The Parliament passed the controversial bill during the Monsoon Session that concluded on August 11.

The unions had complained that there have been recognised bipartite relations with the unions, which had successfully settled several wage negotiations and other issues through dialogue but the Bill has taken "severe" recourse to "crush" industrial actions. They also pointed out that Bill sought to unleash police force to arrest any person without showing any reason or without any warrant in violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and UN Charter of Human Rights.

The trade unions alleged that the Centre was actively moving towards privatising the defence production sector though the Ministry of Defence had earlier acknowledged that it would not do so, prompting the unions to withdraw the strike.

"One of the reason behind calling strike or industrial dispute by the workers in defence sector is primarily due to threat of losing the job emerging out of privatisation and large threat of loss to exchequer of the government, which would no more gather profit and invest that surplus for greater need of the country," Sen had said in his letter.