200 workers laid off as Surat diamond factory shuts down

Five days ago, Godhani Impex management told its 200 workers it was shutting down, unable to run the unit.

One more diamond cutting and polishing company, Godhani Impex, has shut down operations due to the recession in Surat’s foremost industry, and 200 workers have been laid off. They are among 14,000 diamond polishers said to have been laid off this year.

After much wrangling between the workers’ union and the company, the management of Godhani Impex finally agreed on Wednesday to pay them two months’ salary, for October and November, as compensation.

Five days ago, Godhani Impex management told its 200 workers it was shutting down, unable to run the unit. With no compensation forthcoming, the laid-off diamond polishers approached the Diamond Workers’ Union three days ago to parley with the company. The union representatives tried their best to convince the company to give the workers at least three months’ salaries, but the management refused.

Union representatives Bharat Hadiya and Bhavesh Tank then took up the issue before the Assistant Labour Commissioner M N Gameti, and sought justice, saying the workers were entitled to three months’ salaries as per the Labour Act.

M N Gameti then mediated a meeting between Hadiya and a representative of Godhani Impex, during which the company agreed to pay three months’ salaries.

However, when the workers arrived at the factory on Tuesday to collect their salaries, they were not allowed to enter the premises, and denied the promised sum. On Wednesday, the workers went to Godhani Impex premises again, this time led by union leaders Hadiya and Tank, and demanded a meeting with the management.

After two hours of discussion, they arrived at a compromise by which they company would pay two months’ salaries. The workers are expected to receive the money on Thursday morning at the factory.

“We are happy we could convince the company officials to pay two months’ salaries,” Hadiya said. “Earlier we had demanded three months’ salaries but seeing the situation of the company, we agreed to two months’ salaries. Company representative Hitesh Godhani told us that they were not going to restart business as they could not cope with the recession.”

Diamond Workers Union president Ranmal Jaliriya, said, “This year, over 14,000 diamond polishers had been laid off from various diamond cutting and polishing units in Surat. The recession hit the diamond industry badly and some companies have reduced production. While taking up the issue of diamond polishers, we also think from the company side. We are happy that the Godhani Impex agreed to pay two months’ salaries to the diamond polishers.”