Uzbek cotton has been removed from a list of products produced with child labour, a notice posted on the Federal Register last month by the US Bureau of International Labour Affairs announced. AN International Labour Organisation (ILO) report on the 2018 Uzbek cotton harvest also concluded that child labour can no longer be considered a serious concern there.
The US departments of labour, state, and homeland security “have determined that the use of forced child labour in the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan has been significantly reduced to isolated incidents,” the notice read.
While forced labour remains a reality in Uzbekistan, the ILO and other world organisations are reportedly encouraged by the Uzbek Government’s efforts to eliminate it.
“Uzbekistan demonstrated major progress in the eradication of child labour and forced labour in the cotton harvest of 2018. Forced labour during the harvest was reduced by 48 percent compared to 2017,” The ILO report’s executive summary said.
The ILO estimates that 170,000 people were forced to pick cotton in the 2018 harvest. While that is a large number of people, it represents just 6.8 per cent of the total force of cotton pickers mobilised for the 2018 harvest.
The ILO report also lists 206 cases of local officials and managers who were punished for forced labour during the 2018 cotton harvest.