According to their data, there is a growing awareness in the society of the unacceptability of coercion to work, especially when it comes to children. The ILO noted that harvesting this year was held in an atmosphere of transparency and dialogue, including with civil society.
Representatives of the ILO talked one-on-one with 3000 cotton pickers throughout the country, representatives of local authorities, teachers and doctors. In addition, they called another 1,000 people.
It turned out that the authorities had done away with the practice of systematic coercion of children to collect cotton and instructed them to involve people in this work only on a voluntary basis. They forbade compelling schoolchildren, students, teachers and medical workers to collect cotton. Those who voluntarily volunteered to harvest, this year received higher wages - in accordance with the recommendations of the ILO and the World Bank.
Even before the start of the disaster, ILO experts conducted training events for 6,300 employers. The study revealed that, on the whole, people understand how compulsory labor is unacceptable, but educational work needs to be continued, according to the ILO. For example, in some areas, employers require cash compensation for the loss of free employees, which, according to ILO representatives, is unacceptable.
The most convincing signal of the coming changes was the speech of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the UN General Assembly in New York in September, as well as the follow-up to the policy of voluntary participation in cotton harvesting that were adopted at the national level.
In November, at the Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor in Argentina, the authorities of Uzbekistan pledged to cooperate with civil society in this field. Since that time, several meetings have already been held with civil activists.