Around 600 diamond polishers in Surat have lost their jobs since January as the industry is “passing through a recession”, with J B & Brothers Pvt Ltd, a leading diamond firm, laying off 80 people on Friday.
J B & Brothers Pvt Ltd is a Diamond Trading Corporation sightholder (authorised bulk purchaser of rough diamonds) and receives a stock of rough diamonds from various mines across the globe. Over 2,000-2,200 diamond polishers were employed at the firm before the layoffs.
On Friday morning, 80 of the polishers were informed by the firm’s owners that they were being laid off. They then gathered outside the company premises and requested the security guards to allow them to talk to the manager or the owner. They were not allowed to enter.
The polishers, who did not receive last month’s salary, then went to the Surat diamond workers’ association office at Varachha and complained against the owner. The president of the association, Jaysukh Gajera, spoke to the firm owner, who cited the recession for the job cuts.
Gajera concurred that the recession had indeed been the cause of the majority of the 600 layoffs since January. “We have sought the district collector’s help,” said Gajera.
On Friday evening, representatives of the diamond workers’ association met the district collector and handed over a memorandum saying they had not been given even a month’s notice, and sought help to obtain their pending salary.
Repeated phone calls to Deep Shah, director of JB & Brothers, remained unanswered.
On June 13, Blue Star Diamonds, located on Lambe Hanuman road, had also laid off hundreds of polishers, but the diamond workers’ association was able to get the workers their dues.
Surat Diamond Association president Babubhai Gujarati said that the diamond industry was going through a slump. “For the past two months, business has gone down, as there is no major demand in the market,” Gujarati said. We learned that diamond factories have reduced production by an estimated 25 per cent to survive this crucial period.”