Closed Surat diamond units likely to resume operationsDecember 22nd, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS
Surat, Dec 22 (IANS) Most closed diamond polishing units here, which had been closed for over a month, are likely to resume operations by Tuesday, a senior government official said Monday.”I held a meeting yesterday (Sunday) and 400 diamond units representatives were present. So too was Nanubhai Vanani, MLA and ex-president of Surat Diamond Association. Most units agreed to begin work from tomorrow (Tuesday),” deputy labour commissioner M.V. Jadeja told IANS.
Jadeja said that though many units have no inventories and could provide no work to workers, they have been told to pay the minimum wages so as to “create a balance” these units had remained closed for one-and-half months.
He said the decision was taken after four meetings, the last being on Saturday that was attended by government officials and industry representatives.
Faced with a snowballing agitation and suicides by jobless diamond workers, the state government had finally ordered owners of closed diamond units to resume operations from Monday or face penal action.
The owners were also told to compensate workers in accordance with the labour laws. “It has been made clear that all units have to start by December 25,” Jadeja said.
Penalties could either be in the form a fine or a three-month jail term, he said.
Nearly 5,000 diamond workers had staged a demonstration in the city Sunday demanding immediate reopening of diamond cutting and polishing units that have been closed since Oct 25.
They also said they would not prefer to work at lower wages once the units opened.
The Surat Diamond Association has asked members to provide a minimum of four hours work to workers and pay some advance wages in the first week so their basic needs were met.
Diamond unit owners have complained to the government that many international buyers stopped coming to India after the Mumbai terror strikes, which had hit the industry hard.
There are nearly 6,000 small and big diamond units in the city, and only a fraction had reopened after Diwali. Usually, the units declare a four-week vacation during the festive season, but this time around adverse market conditions resulted in a two-month recess.