21% reduction in diamond production; job loss for 10K, salary cuts for otherstext_fields
Surat: Vipul Jinjala, a 31-year-old diamond worker, consumed poison on January 19 and committed suicide. His wife and two kids have survived him.
His younger brother Paresh told the media that his older brother had been struggling financially for the past few months due to growing prices and reduced income, which had made it difficult for him to make ends meet and may have contributed to his suicide.
Ramesh Jilariya, president of the Surat Diamond Workers Union, noted that Vipul is not the only worker who struggles to provide for their family, finding it challenging to routinely pay EMIs for housing or vehicle loans, children's school tuition, and meeting the daily household costs.
According to the union's rough estimate, some 10,000 diamond workers have lost their jobs in the last few months because of production cuts and small units closing down.
The union is demanding that the state should strictly implement labour laws in the diamond sector, which should be covered under the Factory Act, where the labour gets ESCI, provident fund, fixed working hours and other social and health security benefits that other labourers get.
Jilariya complains that presently diamond workers don't have any social security, as they are not registered employees, and not getting a salary slip or file income tax returns, so they don't get other benefits too.
Indeed, production is down by 20 to 21% because during the peak of the Christmas season imports had declined by 18% from America and other countries, explains Vijay Mangukia, regional chairman of the Gems & Jewellery Promotion Council.
According to data, in December 2022 the country's finished diamond exports stood at $ 2356.70 million, which is an 18.90% decline from December 2021's $ 2905 million exports.
Because of this, production units have to cut production, admits Mangukia, but disagrees that thousands of labourers are jobless. The production cut is not met by laying off workers, instead, units have reduced working hours from 12 to 10 or 8 hours and instead of one weekly off, now units give 2 weekly offs.
Jilariya countered this explanation and alleged that because of the cut in working hours and increased weekly offs, workers, cut and polished fewer diamonds. Since their salaries are linked to pieces and performance, these steps are proving disastrous for the workers.
Not a single diamond unit has closed down in the last two to three months, claimed Nanubhai Vekariya, president of the Surat Diamond Association. On the contrary, he claimed that an unnecessary hue and cry is being made over the recession, whereas the industry is working at 100 per cent capacity. According to Vekariya 3000 units are employing 7 lakh workers in Surat.
With inputs from IANS