Poor global demand leaves thousands jobless in Surat diamond units

January 19th, 2009 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Surat, Jan 19 (IANS) Poor overseas demand due to the global economic meltdown has left thousands jobless in this Gujarat city, India’s diamond cutting and polishing hub.Surat has about 6,000 units that provided jobs to 5.5 million people, most of them from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, who cut and polish almost 70 percent of the world’s rough diamonds.

However, the current slump in global demand for cut and polished diamonds has forced units to lay off about 25 percent of the workforce in the past one month.

Those who still have a job in the still operational units have only minor cutting and polishing tasks for orders from domestic clients.

“Never in the history of the diamond trade in Surat have we seen such a crisis. We only hope that the situation improves as the recessionary pressure in the global markets eases up in the near future,” Surat Diamond Association president C.P. Vanani said.

Reeling under the pressure of high inventory and liquidity crunch and no signs of a revival in trade soon, most manufacturers fear they are in for hard times.

They hope for succour from the central government, which has so far been unable to formulate a bailout plan for the industry.

Many workers in the units that are still operational had left for hometowns during Diwali for a three-week annual holiday and when they returned in November they were shocked to learn their employers were settling their accounts.

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