Tashkent Oil and Fat Company (Source: www.ozodlik.org)

Tashkent factory extorts money from its employees for the cotton harvest

The Tashkent oil and fat factory’s (“Тошкент ёғ-мой комбинати”) management collected 200 thousand Soum from each employee for supporting the cotton harvest 2016. As it was reported by several employees of the factory, directors of the company threatened to fire anyone who refused to pay the requested sum. However, the “Tashkent oil and fat factory” Joint Stock Company (JSC) denies all the allegations. The JSC specializes in fat and oil production and is considered to be one of the largest in this field.

According to anonymous sources within the company, this increased the discontent and anger among employees even more as they had not received salaries for 4 months already.

“We have not received our salaries for four months. The factory itself is not really working as before. We don’t have much work to do here. And after all, our management is forcing us to pay 200 thousand Soum and is threatening to fire us otherwise…” said one of the workers.

“Due to a lack of production means (seeds), the factory is not functioning normally” said one of the workers who had contacted Radio Ozodlik (Uzbek service of RFE/RL).

Company officials, however, said that the “factory is temporary shut down due to reconstruction works”. Furthermore, they added that “all workers receive their salaries on time.”

While officials are eager to give the impression that everything is in order, company’s employees said that “they were not paid since May, when they received their salaries for February.”

Employees also informed Radio Ozodlik (Uzbek service of RFE/RL) that “only 60-70 people are involved in preparation works for the new season”.

One of the sources close to the factory’s management said: “Representatives of the National Security Service, the State Prosecution Office, the National Tax Committee and the Sanitary & Epidemiological Service shut down the factory while it is being investigated”.

The “Tashkent oil and fat factory” JSC is one of the largest production plants in this area out of all 17 in Uzbekistan. It employs around a thousand people.

It is recalled that employees of large state and private companies in Uzbekistan are forced to provide financial support for the seasonal cotton harvest every year.

Furthermore, it has become a well-accepted tradition to forcibly mobilize hundreds of thousands people every year to participate in the cotton harvest.

Wheat and cotton harvest campaigns are the primary reasons of forced labor in the country.

Forced mobilization of employees of state-owned companies for the annual cotton and wheat harvest has triggered criticism on part of numerous international organizations against the Uzbek authorities.

This article has been translated from Uzbek – (Тошкентдаги ёғ-мой комбинати ишчилардан пахта терими учун пул ундирмоқда.)

Source: Ozodlik – Uzbek Service of RFE/RL; accessed 17/08/2016; (http://www.ozodlik.org/a/ozbekiston-paxta-hashar-pul/27928865.html)