A CHRONICLE OF FORCED LABOUR IN THE COTTON SECTOR IN UZBEKISTAN
Issue 4, September 21, 2014
Authorities sent workers from all public institutions and joint-venture companies in Karakalpakstan to pick cotton. Each institute and company reported they received orders to contribute a certain number of workers and had ceased operations to fulfill them. Each organization determined which workers to send. Some hired day labourers. Many workers paid $200 – $400 for an exemption from the cotton harvest.
While first- and second-year college and lyceum students (ages 15-17) have not been sent to the cotton harvest, some are picking cotton as day labourers. People working the harvest are living in gymnasiums or paying local villagers for accommodations. The cotton pickers are paying for water and food themselves.
Local offices of the Departments of Education and Health plans to send staff of 56 hospitals, 322 medical clinics, 800 secondary schools, and libraries. Thus far, local authorities have been demanding payments from citizens to exempt them from picking cotton, purportedly for the purpose of hiring day labourers.