Deputy Minister of Labour of Uzbekistan: In 2017 it is forbidden to send children, doctors and teachers to pick cotton
In 2017 in Uzbekistan, it is strictly prohibited to involve minors, as well as employees of the health and education sector, "who are in employed." First Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations of Uzbekistan Erkin Muhitdinov informed the delegation of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on 15 August at the Republican Rehabilitation Centre for Assistance and Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings.
Cotton picking in Uzbekistan. Photo by UGF
Muhitdinov explained that the protocol decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan issued on 8 August 2017 fixes it. He also said that thanks to the nationwide information campaign, the public is now better informed about the prohibited practices of labour relations. And the director of the National Centre for Human Rights, Akmal Saidov, told the American delegation about reforms aimed at eliminating the risk of forced labour in the cotton sector.
Meeting at the Republican Rehabilitation Centre for Assistance and Protection of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings. Photo by Mehnat.Uz
It is noteworthy that the authorities do not focus attention on such an important issue for the population of Uzbekistan, although a real refusal from the services of state employees and children would make the new leadership more popular both in the eyes of their citizens and the world community.
Users in social networks met the message of the Deputy Minister of Labour with distrust. Among the users there are those who are genuinely happy about the ban on sending children and state employees to the fields, and many who are sceptical: in their opinion, local authorities will organise letters from doctors and teachers who will allegedly volunteer to send them to the fields to help the homeland. Either they will force budget workers to pay off - money or sending instead of themselves day labourers.
Representatives of the US Senate. Photo by Mehnat.Uz
A few days before the meeting of the Ministry of Labour with the representatives of the US Senate, the hokim (head of the administration) of the Namangan region Khairullo Bozorov admitted that previously doctors and teachers had been attracted to field work.
“It's a fact, and you can not hide it. We attracted them, not only to works on beautification, but even in agriculture. Teachers were not let to do their work; they were tied to the farmers. Doctors were not let to do their job. Leaving their job at SVP (rural doctor point) they were engaged in agriculture,” said the regional official. He promised that the workers in the spheres of education and health would not do such a job anymore.
Representatives of the Uzbek side. Photo by Mehnat.Uz
Meanwhile, Kun.Uz referring to its sources reported that in 2017 the cost per kilo of cotton for the collectors would cost 400 sums ($ 0.09 at the official rate, or $ 0.05 at the rate of "black market"). Last year, a kilogram of cotton gave 285 soms to pickers, which in dollar terms was about the same - $ 0.09 at the official rate and $ 0.04 at the rate of "black market".
Cotton for Uzbekistan is a strategic raw material. The country ranks sixth in the world regarding cotton fibre production and the fifth - in its exports. Every year, weeding and harvesting of crops mobilised hundreds of thousands of people in Uzbekistan, whose job is not related to agriculture - teachers, doctors, students, workers of enterprises, the spheres of culture and so on. Until recently, minors worked in cotton fields on a massive scale.
Fergana wrote recently on topic and other reports available too.
Fergana News Agency