Striking workers at an oil and natural-gas pipeline producing company in western Kazakhstan have been promised a salary increase by the firm's management.
Nurses and teachers in Uzbekistan are being forced by officials to clean streets, plant trees and harvest wheat or face the sack, fines or pay cuts, despite a government drive to end state-imposed work, labor rights groups said on Thursday.
The production and harvesting of cotton in Turkmenistan remains heavily reliant on a system of forced labor despite the use of mechanical cotton harvesters on some farms and attempts by local authorities to prevent the use of child labor in the cotton fields. Farmers put the problem down to the rigidly centralized agricultural system. It’s the government that tells the farmers what to grow; it’s the government that provides seeds, fertilizers and other supplies. The state even sets dates for the start and finish of the cotton harvest, instead of allowing farmers to decide for themselves when the crop is actually ready.
This submission is for consideration during the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ review Kazakhstan. It focuses on the crackdown on the independent trade union movement and attacks on workers’ rights; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; the protection of students, teachers, and schools in situations of armed conflict; and inclusive education in Kazakhstan.
A rural development program has been in effect in Turkmenistan since 2007. The state media have given it a variety of names over the past 12 years: “the regional development program,” “the village reform program” and simply “the reform program.” It’s not in the public domain but is often referred to in the media and appears extremely significant from the volume of investment alone.
The World Bank is an institution that provides loans for developing countries. Right now it is providing almost $500 million to Uzbek agriculture projects. Yet Uzbekistan’s cotton industry has historically relied upon state-sanctioned forced labor.
Every year, employees from Maxam-Chirchiq and Ammofos-Maxam are forcibly sent to pick cotton for up to two months. This often involves living and working in inappropriate conditions, away from their families, with inadequate food, water and sanitary facilities.
24-year-old Sohibjon Mutalibov, an employee of Ammofos-Maxam, the largest producer of mineral fertilizers in Uzbekistan, was forcibly sent to pick cotton in the Jizzakh region on September 26, 2018. Two days later, he died following a fight with a local resident who fractured his skull. Sohibjon lay in a coma for seven days and died without regaining consciousness in hospital in the Dustlik district of the Jizzakh region. Sohibjon was one of the hundreds of thousands of employees of enterprises that were forcibly sent to pick cotton in the fall of 2018 under the threat of dismissal.
International Labor Organization's Director-General Guy Ryder recently visited Uzbekistan, meeting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and other high level officials to discuss how this country is reforming to end forced labor, specifically in its cotton fields. VOA talked to Ryder in Tashkent.
Uzbekistan’s 2018 cotton harvest, which concluded in all regions of the country the first week of December, showcased the enormous challenges in uprooting the country’s deeply entrenched forced labor 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 labor for some citizens, key root causes remained in place, driving officials at both the local and national level to force citizens into the fields again.