Cotton-picking in Uzbekistan: better pay and stiffer control
President Islam Karimov ordered 20% pay-rise for cotton-pickers this season. Judging by reports in the local media, cotton-pickers on the fringes of the Andijan region are entitled to 71 sum ($0.05) per every kilogram harvested. Their colleagues in the inner areas will be paid 53.74 sums for kilogram (65 sums for seed cotton).
Ferghana.Ru already reported that cotton in the Andijan region will be harvested by detachments this year (every detachment includes a machinist, a doctor, and an Interior Ministry official). Financiers attached to detachments will pay cotton-pickers right in the field, once every five working days.
Every detachment is assigned cotton fields (one hectare for every two cotton pickers). With the output per hectare averaging 30 centners, every cotton-picker may, in theory, harvest 1,500 kilograms. It will entitle the worker to 80,000 sums ($63) which is less than the average pay in Uzbekistan. Congratulating the nation on the 16th anniversary of sovereignty on August 31, Karimov himself estimated average pay at $200.
Students of local colleges and universities are already ferried to cotton fields. A student from Andijan who insisted on anonymity told Ferghana.Ru that the task of collecting students and delivering them to plantations is carried out by the National Security Service. "Its officers have photographers accompanying them take our photos (full- and half-face)," the girl said. "They need it to have our photos and therefore prevent dodging. And bogus sick-vouchers do not help anymore."
Students from other colleges and universities say medical facilities deny them sick-vouchers for the cotton-picking period. "Yes, sick-vouchers are issued only to whoever was operated on over the last three months or has gastric ulcer or hepatitis," local clinic official said.