Trade groups oppose Uzbek cotton child labor
Date of publication: August 18, 2008
Source: Home Textiles Today
A coalition of the four U.S. trade associations is calling for the government of Uzbekistan “to take decisive and immediate actions to end the use of forced child labor in its cotton fields,” the group said.
The coalition hand-delivered a letter addressed to Uzbekistan President Islam Abduganievich Karimov to ambassador of Uzbekistan H.E. Abdulaziz Kamilov today here.
The group – the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) – said its member companies represent more than 90% of U.S. purchases of cotton and cotton-based merchandise.
According to published reports, Uzbekistan, the world’s third largest cotton exporter, is alleged to have allowed children as young as 10-15 years old to be forced to harvest cotton, the group said.
“Our member companies are firmly committed to sourcing in countries respectful of human and workers’ rights,” stated the letter. “In fact, this commitment is embedded in their supplier codes of conduct which guide them to source in countries and with business partners that follow workplace standards consistent with international labor standards.”
The coalition urged other organizations to get involved and sent letters to the International Labour Organization, the U.S. Secretary of State, the British Retail Consortium, the Canadian Apparel Federation, the Retail Council of Canada, EuroCommerce, the Foreign Trade Association and the European Apparel and Textile Organisation (EURATEX).
The group said cotton makes up 20% of Uzbekistan exports and some 15% of the country’s gross domestic product.