New report highlights how the cotton harvest fosters modern day slavery and extortion
In 2014, the government of Uzbekistan forced more than a million of its own citizens to pick cotton, and officials extorted individuals and businesses, including multinational companies, at a larger scale as part of the annual Uzbek cotton harvest, according to a new report released by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF).
Action calls into question Tashkent's commitment to international labor rights
(Moscow, March 24, 2015)- The arrest and expulsion from Uzbekistan of an international labor rights expert raises serious concerns about the government of Uzbekistan’s commitment to international human rights conventions and the feasibility of the World Bank’s agricultural programs in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan operates what is perhaps the world’s largest state-organized system of forced labor, forcibly mobilizing more than a million of the country’s citizens to pick cotton each fall.
Campaigners are calling for compensation to victims of the world's worst ever garment factory disaster as an Avaaz petition, demanding that Italian fashion giant Benetton finally pay compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza, is set to top one million signers. The petition adds to ongoing campaign efforts by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum, urging multinational brands to contribute to the fund for the victims of the 24 April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse.
Report Highlights Poverty Among Farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire as Root Cause of Chronic Labor Woes
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the holiday chocolate buying season moves into high gear in the United States, a report out today sheds light on the struggle of West African cocoa farmers to earn decent livelihoods, despite increasing demand for cocoa and higher prices. Approximately 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
Two Years After Deadliest Fire in Bangladesh, C&A Foundation commits significant funds to full and fair compensation of victims; Still no commitment from Walmart, Sears, Disney
Two years after Bangladesh’s deadliest factory fire, IndustriALL Global Union, their Bangladeshi affiliates, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and C&A have reached an agreement on a system for delivering compensation to the injured workers and to the families of the workers killed in the disaster.
The government of Uzbekistan used systematic, mass forced labor in the 2014 cotton harvest, which has now concluded, the Cotton Campaign said today. In addition to coercing millions of people across the country to pick cotton, this forced labor system resulted in institutionalized harassment, extortion, and needless deaths.
Farmers’ union calls on leaders to help farmers grow more sustainable crops
A letter delivered to the Government of Malawi today calls on leaders to address child labor and modern-day slavery in Malawi’s tobacco industry. The letter calls on land reform and support for efforts to diversify crops to help lift Malawi’s 300,000 tenant farmer families out of poverty. The Tobacco and Allied Workers Union of Malawi (TOAWUM) sent the letter, with a coalition of labor, human rights, and health groups. The full letter can be downloaded below.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports forced labor and child labor remained entrenched in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector in 2013
(Washington) 8 October 2014: The U.S. Department of Labor concluded the Government of Uzbekistan maintained its system of forced labor of children and adults in the cotton sector, in its report 2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, released yesterday.
Protestors call on government to stop using education system as source of modern-day slavery
October 1 is National Teacher’s Day in Uzbekistan, but many classrooms will be empty as teachers and, in some cases, their students are sent to the fields to harvest cotton. The government of Uzbekistan, as the sole organizer and beneficiary of this forced-labor cotton harvest, could return them to classrooms where they belong.
Today the Government of Uzbekistan declared the start of the annual cotton harvest. To meet the government’s national quota officials are again this year forcing farmers to fulfill state-established production quotas and forcing children and adults to pick cotton under threat of punishment. Income from Uzbek cotton sales will again disappear into the extra-budgetary Agriculture Fund, to which not even the Uzbek parliament has access. This is modern-day slavery that only the Uzbek government can end by finding the political will to do so.
Nearly 100 international rights groups demand industry action
UPDATE: On August 13th, the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC), a Thai union and ILRF ally that had signed this letter, received a response from TPIA that indicated it would not intervene in the court case against Andy Hall, accused Andy of intending to destroy Thailand’s economic system, and implied that companies may pursue further legal action if Andy continues “to behave in this manner.” The full text is available here:
“Tier 3” Status in Trafficking Report Could Bring Sanctions
The United States government’s decision to place Uzbekistan in the lowest category of its annual human trafficking report sends a message of solidarity to the well over a million Uzbeks forced to pick the country’s cotton crop, the Cotton Campaign said today.
The ranking is based on Uzbekistan’s massive use of forced labor of children and adults to pick the country’s annual cotton crop. The Cotton Campaign is a coalition of human rights, labor, investor and business organizations, including human rights groups from Uzbekistan.
Thailand falls to lowest ranking in Annual Trafficking in Persons Report
The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) welcomes the U.S. State Department’s decision to downgrade Thailand to Tier 3 in the 2014 Global Trafficking in Persons Report. Thailand has clearly demonstrated it is not in compliance with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, particularly with regard to its treatment of migrant workers.
Solving human trafficking problem requires commitments from companies for transparency and accountability
The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is calling for significant changes to the way Western companies source seafood from Thailand in the wake of an investigative report by the Guardian. The article linked shrimp sold by well-known retailers to forced labor and human trafficking on Thai fishing vessels via a shrimp supplier called CP Foods.
The World Bank must take extraordinary measures to ensure it does not contribute to human rights violations in Uzbekistan
After a two-day delay, the World Bank has approved agriculture and education projects in Uzbekistan, despite concerns raised that such investments risk perpetuating the state-sponsored system of forced labor. Under this system, the Uzbek government coercively mobilizes more than a million Uzbek citizens annually to produce cotton, including farmers, students and school staff.
Rights group warns Indonesian-based textile company uses cotton made with forced labor
ILRF today issued a warning to companies and consumers that Indorama Corporation is currently under investigation for violations of U.S. law related to its operations in Uzbekistan. The investigation included the U.S. Customs preventing a shipment of yarn produced in Uzbekistan by Indorama from entering the port of Los Angeles in October 2013. The U.S. government has listed cotton from Uzbekistan as a prohibited good made by forced child labor since 2009.
105,000 Sign Petition Calling on Walmart to Pay Compensation and Join Bangladesh Accord; Kalpona Akter Sends Public Video Message to Walmart
This morning, as Walmart shareholders gather for the company’s annual meeting, Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, sent a public video message to Walmart urging the company to pay a total of $17 million to the victims of the April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza building collapse – the deadliest disaster in the history of the global garment industry.