Rehabilitation of Jobless Diamond Workers – 2008
- Due to global recession in 2008 Diamond Industry was hit severely.
- In Surat out of the 2,500 units, 1,250 units shut down
- 25000 Diamond Industry workers were rendered jobless
- State and Central Government were reluctant to take the responsibilities
- Mass suicides were taking place as most of the workers were from Saurashtra region who were highly self-esteemed and they were not able to tolerate the disregard once they fell from prime.
- No alternative was in sight
- Hearts@work foundation stepped in
- A press conference was held to spread awareness of this campaign
- Created committees, printed application forms for those who wanted to work anywhere else.
- More than 1100 applications were received.
- All the interested applicants were taken around Zenitex facility and explained the process of dyeing and printing which is a business secret, but, was shown for the benefits of the applicants so that they could select the area of their interest.
- Training was given to more than 1500 workers in Zenitex facility, many of whom did not even fill the forms.
- Training was provided according to the area of interest that they had selected.
- During the training of 4 months, conveyance and stipends were provided to each worker.
- After completion of training placements were made in many other textile units.
- Even after workers joined other units Zenitex reimbursed their conveyance bills every month end.
The CSR / Social Responsibilities / Community Welfare, was initiated in 2008, when due to the global recession the diamond industry in Surat was hit severely. Out of the 2,500 Diamond units 1,250 units shut down, due to which thousands of workers were rendered jobless. This created a situation wherein, mass suicides started to take place, i.e. the whole family, the man, his wife, their children, all would commit suicide at once. This was a scary situation in Surat.
At that time Mr. Viral Desai, who then was only 30 years of age, took up the challenge of rehabilitation of these jobless diamond workers. He organized camps, made application forms and got them filled by those who desired to have an alternate job. Most of the workers were from Saurashtra region, who have high self-esteem and they prefer to feed themselves and their families by earning the bread with dignity rather than solicit donations which they say is a temporary relief and will push them more into poverty.
Mr. Viral Desai, Zenitex and their Hearts@work foundation gave training to 1500 employees in their textile facilities and then through his limited network provided them jobs in similar companies. During the 4 months of training, Zenitex paid stipends and conveyance to these employees and even after they were employed in other companies, the conveyance / bus fares were being paid by Zenitex till a long time. The workers were thankful to Zenitex and Mr. Viral Desai for their timely support in these difficult crisis.
During this campaign a few heart aching incidents happened which we would like to share with our readers.
Etched in Memory #1
One day, Mr. Viral Desai, CEO – Zenitex and founder of Hearts@work Foundation was talking to the volunteers outside the office. When, a woman walked up to him, she was nicely dressed and appeared from a good family, she joined her hands and told Mr. Viral that “Sir, I have come here after borrowing Rs. 50/- for conveyance, because I heard that you are ensuring work for jobless workers, hence, if my husband (who was a jobless diamond worker) would get some work through your initiative. At that time, Mr. Viral was so moved, that he was at loss of words, however, he controlled his emotions and assured the lady that yes why not, his husband will surely get a job and then he offered her Rs. 50/- to repay back the money she borrowed from her neighbour. But, the self-esteem of the lady was such that she respectfully refused to accept that money and took a reassurance from Mr. Viral that her husband should get work.
Etched in Memory #2
The impact of the crisis was so harsh, that the campaign of providing the jobs was seen as a God sent bliss these jobless workers. Mr. Bhavik Naik our General Manager, recollects how once he was walking down the road and one elderly man came and touched his feet, Mr. Bhavik was shocked at the gesture and immediately pulled up the man and said what are you up to? The man replied that you are worthy of worship for us.
When we did not have work, there used to come many gentleman with loads of money and give us cash, gave us groceries, gave us clothes – but, none of these can be compared to what you people have done for us. Because, the cash and groceries were helpful to us temporarily and as soon as it finished we were again in trouble, however, you people provided us a living by giving us work.
Etched in Memory #3
Once the workers were employed on the first official working day, one of the worker working in folding department appeared wearing a full spotless white dress, all the others were surprised and they started to think that a person wearing such White would never dirty his hands or clothes and would not work appropriately. However, to everyone’s surprise, that man worked with his heart without caring about his clothes getting spoiled.
He expertized in his area of work and kept on improving.
Etched in Memory #4
Once, Mr. Viral Desai received a call from one of the rehabilitated worker who worked on the delivery tempo. He was confused as to which particular shop number in the market the goods was to be delivered. On receiving the call at 9:30pm at night, Mr. Viral was surprised and he asked the person why was he still on duty? He should have left for home by now and the delivery could have been done tomorrow. To which the man replied that, Sir, I prefer to complete my work on the same day and start a new day with new work. Such was the dedication and devotion towards their duties, of these workers who hail from Saurashtra, Kathiawad.