Systemic forced labour and child labour in Uzbek cotton industry

Almost two million people are recruited every year for the annual cotton harvest in Uzbekistan. According a new report by ILO, the country managed to accelerate the fight against child and forced labour during the 2020 cotton production cycle, according to a new ILO report. ‘The country is making significant progress on fundamental labour rights in the cotton fields. More than 96 per cent of workers in the 2020 cotton harvest worked freely and the systematic recruitment of students, teachers, doctors and nurses has completely stopped’. The report, entitled 2020 third-party monitoring of child labour and forced labour during the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan , is based on more than 9,000 unaccompanied and unannounced interviews with a representative sample of the country’s 1.8 million cotton pickers. In 2020, the share of cotton pickers that experienced coercion was 33 percent lower than in 2019. However, there were still cases at the local level of people being threatened with loss of privileges or rights if they declined an invitation to pick cotton. The ILO began monitoring the cotton harvest for child labour in 2013. In 2015, as part of an agreement with the World Bank, this work was extended to cover both forced labour and child labour.