Over 300 diamond polishers on Monday submitted a memorandum to Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma and District Collector complaining that they were laid off by Kiran Gems, one of the premier diamond firms of the country, without any prior notice and reasons. They also alleged that they were not given 15-day salary and being threatened against taking any legal step against the company’s management.
Demanding reinstatement of their job, the diamond polishers, mostly hailing from Saurashtra, said that on Saturday when they reached the Varachha unit of the company, they were told not to work and search for another job.
“In the memorandum, we have requested the authorities that Diwali is around the corner and we are not financially sound. Therefore, it would be difficult for us to survive. We have requested the authorities to give us justice and take legal action against the factory owners and force them to give us back our job. We have also demanded our 15-day salary which the company has refused to give us,” said Divyang Mangukia, one the sacked diamond polishers.
When contacted, V S Patel, the owner of Kiran Gems, said that the company hires diamond polishers through contractors and therefore they were not aware of any lay-offs. “There are only 20 people who are on the payroll of the company and there are 400 contractors who employ diamond polishers and other staffers in the company. We don’t know about the 300 workers who have been told not to report for work. We will look into the issue and under which contractor they were working,” said Patel.
Notably, Patel had donated Rs 65 crore to Kiran Multi Specialty Hospital and Research Centre in Surat which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. The website of the company says it is “the world’s largest manufacturer of diamonds” with ‘highest turnover’ of cut and polished diamonds.
Meanwhile, the affected diamond workers have also sought the help of Surat Ratnakalakar Sangh and Surat Diamond Association to intervene and resolve the matter. “After we received the complaint from diamond polishers, we tried to contact the company officials. They told us that it is the company’s policy and will not be disclosed,” said Babubhai Gujarati, president of Surat Diamond Association.
According to Surat Ratnakalakar Sangh president Jaysukh Gajera, the lay-offs may have to do with “recruitment scandal” by the company’s manager. “We cross-checked the issue and found a new story. Company’s authorities had caught few managers who were taking money from diamond polishers on a monthly-basis. The managers are responsible for recruiting diamond polishers. Before giving job, the managers personally meets polishers and makes deal for commission with him. For example, if a diamond polisher gets monthly salary of Rs 15,000 in other companies, he is recruited by the manager for Rs 25,000 or more. The manager then offers a condition to the polisher that he will be recruited if he agrees to pay him Rs 5,000 per month from his salary… Kiran Gems owners might have come across such scandals, as a result of which, they have sacked diamond polishers and few managers,” said Gajera.