‘Low wages causing labour shortage in Indian jewellery sector’

New Delhi: Lower average salaries in Indian gems and jewellery sector compared to other manufacturing areas, has led to acute labour shortage, a joint study by industry chamber Assocham and Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI) said on Sunday.

The study found average salary in the Indian gems and jewellery industry at Rs 2.52 lakh per annum, compared to that in pharmaceuticals (Rs 5.09 lakh), capital goods (Rs 4.94 lakh), electronics (Rs 4.43 lakh), chemical (Rs 3.97 lakh), automotive (Rs 3.77 lakh), construction material (Rs 2.88 lakh), metal and metal products (Rs 2.54 lakh).

“Inadequate working conditions and limited compliance with health and safety standards have also led to low interest in the industry,” Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a release here.

“Excessive and prolonged exposure to lethal chemicals and gases can lead to ailments like lung tissue damage, kidney damage and lung cancer, thereby making the industry less attractive and not an employer of choice for the younger generations,” it said.

Assocham Secretary General D.S. Rawat said sustainable growth of the industry needs continuous supply of new talent with skills and ground-breaking ideas.

“Manual methods of cutting, polishing, manufacturing and designing of gems and jewellery need to be substituted with high-end machines and software by imparting practical training to the youth in use of laser machines and other modern techniques prevalent globally,” Rawat said.

“Investment in vocational training institutes will provide a path to increase awareness and attract younger generation to the sector by providing better career opportunities,” he added.

The study also suggested providing to the workers safety kits with daily-use equipment like goggles, gas masks, gloves, lab coats and other things.

Meanwhile, the government on Friday extended by one month, till July 31, the time for jewellers to get registered with the central excise department.

The liability for payment of central excise duty will be with effect from March 1, 2016, a finance ministry statement said here.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the current fiscal’s budget presented in February imposed one per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery, provoking protests by jewellers across the country, including closure of shops.