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On June 11, in Geneva, was organised a round table on forced and child labour in Central Asia, which highlighted the exploitation of children in cotton growing. Representatives of trade unions, ILO/IPEC, NGOs and companies took part in the roundtable. The IUF with ITGLWF and EI have been among the speakers.

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IUF affiliates in Central Asia region are calling on global action on elimination of all child labour in cotton growing. IUF welcomes retailers’ interest in ending forced child labor and we think they have to have a wider commitment to assist in improving conditions generally in agricultural supply chains. There is decent work deficit in agriculture, bad OHS and low wages that make many adult workers move to work to urban areas or migrate to other countries for better payment and are replaced by children in the fields.
Therefore, our actions should not be driven by cotton retailers interested at worst in protecting their image or at best only in cleaning THEIR supply chains. Our priority is what is best for the children and what will ensure not just quick-fix solutions in cotton but what will ensure long-term, sustainable action to eliminate child labour in Central Asia and in other parts of the world.
Retailers need a long-term commitment to clean their supply chains.

But, we recognise special measures should be taken in Uzbekistan in regard to government mobilisation of children for cotton picking.

IUF supports the call of the Workers Group spokesperson in the ILO debate on the forced labour report that the Government should follow the example of the Government of Brazil and acknowledge the existence of forced labour thus opening the door for supportive action by the international community. One solution would be the replacement of forced child labour by unemployed adults who receive fair wages and have decent working conditions.
Forced labour is unacceptable!

The full text of IUF EECA representative presentation is available here