• Deutsch
  • English
  • Русский
  • o'zbek

On measures Undertaken by Uzbekistan to Implement ILO Conventions on Forced Labor

As s member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) since 1992, Uzbekistan joined 13 ILO Conventions, including fundamental Conventions concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (No.29) and the Abolition of Forced Labor (No.105).

The comprehensive measures were taken to implement these Conventions. The necessary legal and institutional framework to prevent forced labor was established and being constantly improved.

The national legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Constitution, Labor Code, Law on Employment) prohibits the use of forced labor.

Article 7 of the Labor Code stipulates that forced labor, namely compulsion to perform a work under the threat of some form of punishment (including as a means of labor discipline) is prohibited.

The Labour Code (article 7, part 2) provides a list of exceptions to this rule. A work is not considered as forced labor if it is required:
1) on the basis of legislation on compulsory or alternative military service;
2) in cases of emergency;
3) as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law and in other relevant cases provided by law.

These provisions are in full compliance with the ILO Conventions on forced labor.
The national legislation of Uzbekistan established punishment for use of forced labor (articles 51 and 491 of the Administrative Code, articles 135, 138, 148 of the Criminal Code).

The Government of Uzbekistan adopted the National action plan to implement the ILO Conventions on forced labor. Uzbekistan regularly submits implementation reports to the ILO.

An Interagency Working Group for reporting on ratified ILO Conventions and a Coordination Council on child labor and other related issues was established. It operates to prevent use of forced and child labor in Uzbekistan.

The control over observance of national legislation and international norms on forced labor is also exercised by State Labour Inspection of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Moreover, Uzbekistan introduced the parliamentary oversight over the implementation of ratified international instruments, including the ILO Conventions.

Since 2011 the Trade Unions Federation of Uzbekistan has been conducting regular independent public monitoring of forced and child labor during cotton harvest. The hotlines were set up at all trade unions bodies for workers to report violations of their labor rights, including the forced labor. Broad awareness raising campaign and training activities for farmers, education institutions, local authorities and communities are carried out throughout the country.

In the framework of social partnership the Trade Unions Federation and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan regularly bring to the attention of the Government their proposals and recommendations on improving the labor conditions.

The Council of Farmers of Uzbekistan provides an extensive outreach to farmers to increase their awareness of compliance with national labor legislation and international labor norms.

The employers Association and civil society institutions are also involved in activities aimed at reinforcing labor standards and their application in practice.
The social partnership mechanisms play a key role in implementing the ILO Conventions in Uzbekistan. The labor relations are covered by a general agreement between the Government, trade unions and employers, as well as other 86 sectorial and 14 territorial agreements.

The working conditions at enterprises and organizations are regulated by more than 93 thousand collective agreements, which cover today 96% of all legal entities employing trade unions members.

All collective agreements contain provisions on observance of labor rights, including protection from forced labor in accordance with the ILO Convention No. 105.
The collective agreements also specifically provide that workers called upon to participate in agricultural works are paid for the work they perform and, at the same time, continue receiving the average wage for their usual job.

Since the 102nd Session of the International Labor Conference held in June 2013, the Government of Uzbekistan in cooperation with social partners carried out comprehensive work to develop constructive cooperation with the ILO on the implementation of international labor standards based on conclusions and recommendations of the Committee of Experts and the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards.

On July 17-18, 2013 a joint roundtable on “Prospects of technical cooperation in implementation of international obligations in the framework of ILO” was held in Tashkent with participation of representatives of the ILO, ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), European Commission, International Organization of Employers (IOE), International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) and diplomatic missions of the countries concerned.

A joint monitoring of child labor during the cotton harvest 2013 was carried out from September 11to October 31 2013 by 10 IPEC international experts working with 40 national inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Trade Unions Federation, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Council of Farmers of Uzbekistan.

The monitoring based on the ILO principles and methodology, also involved training workshops and seminars throughout the country. The monitoring units had full and unimpeded access and undertook more than 800 unannounced visits to schools, farms, cotton fields covering approximately 40,000 kilometers across the country. 1592 documented interviews (surveys) with employers, farmers, adult farm workers, teachers, school administrators, community members and children were conducted. The ILO monitoring mission concluded that there was no systematic recourse to forced child labor in Uzbekistan.

International experts had also the opportunity to explore not only the situation of children, but also to observe the labor process of adults. They noted voluntary nature of adult cotton pickers motivated by a desire to earn additional income.

However, the Government of Uzbekistan and national social partners recognize the need for ongoing and systemic work to further improve labor conditions and increase public scrutiny to prevent the use of forced labor of adults and children under 18.

In this connection, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Uzbekistan, Social partners and the ILO Moscow Office was signed on April 25, 2014 in Tashkent. It approved a Decent Work Country Programme for 2014-2016 with three strategic areas of technical cooperation:
1. Strengthening social partnership in Uzbekistan to implement fundamental labor principles and rights at work, including a national policy on the application of international and national labor standards, national action plans on the application of Conventions on child labor ensuring that conditions of work and employment in agriculture, including in the cotton-growing industry, meet fundamental labor standards, strengthening the capacity of trade unions and employers organizations, reinforcement of tripartite social dialogue institutions;

2. Fostering decent employment opportunities, including implementation of active policies to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment, effective operation of labor market institutions, development of entrepreneurship through promotion of self-employment and support for small and medium enterprises;

3. Improving working conditions and social protection, including development of an effective occupational safety and health (OSH) management system, collective bargaining and tripartite consultations on wages, improvement of social protection.

As part of the implementation process of this technical cooperation programme, on May 27, 2014 the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan issued a Decree on “Additional measures to implement the ILO Conventions ratified by the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2014-2016”. The document provides for a wide range of actions aimed at reinforcing observance of international labor norms, in particular adoption of a law on social partnership, new edition of the law on protection of labor, amendments to the current legislation to improve labor norms for women and youth, cooperation with IPEC, organization of national monitoring activities on the basis of the ILO methodology, conduct of awareness raising campaigns on international labor standards, strengthening the capacity of state labor inspections, improvement of labor conditions and recruitment mechanisms, including creation of an institutional basis for free hiring of cotton pickers by farmers through the labor market, training activities, translation and publication of the relevant ILO Conventions and guidebooks in the Uzbek language, etc.

Besides, in the framework of cooperation with the ILO and other international partners a joint seminar on “Enhancing cooperation in implementing key provisions of the ILO conventions on child and forced labor” (March 12-14, 2014) and an international conference on “Ensuring labor rights: experience of Uzbekistan and international labor standards” (April 25, 2014) were held in Tashkent.

Another Uzbekistan-ILO joint round table on labor conditions is planned to be held in Tashkent on August 7-8, 2014.

Currently, a joint research on labor conditions in agriculture, including on the impact of mechanization of cotton harvesting on labor market, is being carried out in cooperation with the ILO Special Action Programme to combat forced labor.

All of the cotton produced in Uzbekistan (in 2013 more than 3.3 million tons) is grown by private farmers (70 thousand farms in total with 1.4 million workers). The cotton harvesting period is no more than 30-40 days. Cotton pickers are engaged through individual employment contracts generally motivated by a desire to earn additional revenues.

Uzbekistan takes necessary measures to ensure mechanization of 80-85% of cotton harvesting in the coming years. This will cardinally reduce manual cotton-picking practices. Moreover, the acreage under cotton is being reduced each year. For over the years of independence, the acreage was reduced almost 2 times.

All of this demonstrates how serious are the efforts made by the Government of Uzbekistan to modernize and reform its agriculture sector with introduction of new technologies and production methods, and ensure decent working conditions in agriculture.

Uzbekistan fully supports the ILO's efforts to prevent and combat the forced labor by strengthening legal and institutional frameworks, providing technical assistance to member states and encouraging international cooperation based on the principles of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity.

Uzbekistan is willing to further strengthen and expand an open and constructive engagement with the ILO in the framework of the Decent Work County Programme, including on eradication of forced labor in compliance with its international obligations.