Crisis Looms Over Surat's Diamond Industry Amid Global Challenges
Russia’s Alroza Mining Company Halts Sales, Workers Face Unemployment and Exploitation
Surat — A new challenge is casting a shadow over Surat's already beleaguered diamond industry: Russia's Alroza Mining Company has announced it will suspend sales of rough diamonds for two months. This comes at a time when the market is already weak due to an ongoing banking crisis and diminished demand for polished diamonds in Europe.
Multiple Stressors Hitting Hard
Bhavesh Tank, spokesperson for the Gujarat Diamond Workers Union, says that the diamond industry in Surat is reeling under the dual impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war and a global recession. "Site holders of DTC are proposing to supply fewer raw diamonds for the next two months. This is going to significantly impact millions of gem artisans," Tank added.
Falling Wages, Rising Unemployment
The hiatus in diamond sales is set to exacerbate the plight of gem workers, who have already been suffering from reduced wages and unfair labor practices. With many jewelers currently unemployed, Tank expressed fears that the situation could worsen if rough diamonds do not come into the market.
Social Toll of Industry Challenges
Adding to the gravity of the situation is the alarming fact that 28 gem artisans have taken their own lives in Surat in just the last four months. The Gujarat Diamond Workers Association has warned that, like the protests of 2008, gem artists might take to the streets again if their concerns are not addressed.
Appeal for Consultation
The Gujarat Diamond Workers Association has appealed to industry entrepreneurs to consult with gem artists before taking any drastic measures. They insist that as long as imports are halted, the responsibility for paying the artisans falls on the industrialists and the government.
Diamond Workers Union Demands Action
The Diamond Workers Union of Gujarat has informed the Chief Minister and the Labor and Employment Minister about the ongoing crisis. They demand an economic package and the introduction of the Ratnadeep Yojana for jewelers. A meeting is scheduled for Sunday to discuss the challenges, proposals, and future strategy for the beleaguered industry.
As the challenges pile up, the diamond industry in Surat finds itself at a critical juncture, with the livelihoods of thousands hanging in the balance.