Uzbekistan’s 2018 cotton harvest, which concluded in all regions of the country in the last week of November, showcased the enormous challenges in uprooting the country’s deeply entrenched forced labour system. Driven by a commitment to reform at the highest levels of the government, there is a significant transition underway which is reflected in some encouraging signs of progress. But despite serious efforts by the central government to curtail forced labour for some citizens, key root causes remained in place, resulting in officials at both the local and national level to force citizens into the fields again and extort companies and organizations to provide resources and labour to cover shortfalls and ensure that the state set quota was fulfilled.

In 2018, forced labour remained a systemic problem because its structural underpinnings remained in place. The government has not yet enacted essential deep reforms, in particular of the government procurement or quota system that is a main driver of forced labour. As in previous years, the government continued to assign cotton production quotas to regions and districts and impose responsibility to fulfill these on officials. While significant increases in payment for cotton picking did increase voluntary participation in the harvest, especially in the early stages when cotton is most abundant and pickers can earn the most, this was not sufficient to cover labour shortfalls in low population districts or later in the season when working conditions worsened and pickers could earn much less. As a result, officials turned to public sector institutions as well as banks, enterprises, and businesses to send their employees to the fields or pay for pickers, to cover costs for these pickers, and, in some regions, to deliver cotton quotas. Identifying forced labour as theresult of structural problems and policies under central control and not just the result ofpoor management practice by individual local officials, is important in order to identify appropriate reforms to address the underlying causes of the problem.

They said we wouldn’t have to pick and now they send us to the fields - Forced Labour in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Harvest 2018 DOWNLOAD














A Human Rights Primer for Business: Understanding Risks to Construction Workers in the Middle East

Employment in the construction industry is characterised by low wages and precarious working conditions, with aspects of the business model contributing to widespread violations of workers’ labour rights. These include: a narrowmargin, least-cost ...Read More

Situational Assessment of Labor Migrants in Asia: Needs and Knowledge During COVID-19
COVID-19 resourcesPublications

Series Brief 1: Cambodia (June 2020) Between the months of February and May 2020, more than 90,000 labor migrants returned to Cambodia as the Covid-19 pandemic caused mass business and industry closures in destination countries such as neighborin...Read More

TAGS: Asia
Sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism

ECPAT International is a global network of civil society organisations working together to end the sexual exploitation of children (SEC). ECPAT comprises member organisations in over 100 countries who generate knowledge, raise awareness, and advocat...Read More

Migrant and Child Labour in Thailand’s Shrimp and Other Seafood Supply Chains: Labour Conditions and the Decision to Study or Work

The study aims to strengthen the evidence base on child labour and the labour conditions of migrant workers in Thailand’s shrimp and other seafood supply chains, with a particular focus on communities engaged in these industries. Its objective is ...Read More