Uzbek cotton is free from systemic child labour and forced labour

Almost two million people are recruited every year for the annual cotton harvest in Uzbekistan. The country has succeeded in eradicating forced and child labour during the 2021 cotton production cycle, according to new ILO findings.

GENEVA (ILO News) – An estimated two million children have been taken out of child labour and half a million adults out of forced labour since the reform process of the Uzbekistan’s cotton sector began seven years ago.

According to the forthcoming 2021 ILO Third-Party Monitoring Report of the Cotton Harvest in Uzbekistan based on eleven thousand interviews with cotton pickers, 99 per cent of those involved in the 2021 cotton harvest worked voluntarily. All provinces and districts had very few or no forced labour cases.

About one per cent were subject to direct or perceived forms of coercion. The data shows that 0.47 per cent of respondents reported direct or perceived threats by Mahalla representatives (local officials at the community level) related to social benefits, and 0.12 per cent of respondents reported direct or perceived threats by employers related to loss of employment or wages.

The findings are the latest from the ILO Third-Party Monitoring project, which has been monitoring the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan since 2015 under an agreement with the World Bank.

PS: The 2021 ILO Third-Party Monitoring Report of the Cotton Harvest in Uzbekistan will be published on 29 March.