The government of Uzbekistan continues to remove millions of children across the country from school and force them to pick cotton during the harvest season. While over 70 of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers have developed policies related to Uzbek cotton, Toys R Us, one of the biggest children’s toy and clothing retailers in the country has remained silent. While Toys R Us states that it “does not knowingly engage in business with vendors, suppliers, or manufacturers who are in violation of… laws affecting labor usage, civil rights, child labor, and safety,” this company has not publicly addressed the unique state-sponsored practice of forced child labor in Uzbekistan nor has it provided any information about how it ensures that its suppliers do not use Uzbek cotton tainted by these egregious human rights abuses. So far, Toys R Us, which also owns Babies R Us and FAO Schwarz among other brands, has refused to support human rights and speak out against forced child labor in the cotton industry, unlike its top competitors like Carters, the Children’s Place, the Gap and Gymboree.
Your actions make a difference! In the past, your e-mail actions targeting Abercrombie & Fitch, Gymboree, Carter’s and the Children’s Place have led these companies to announce policies prohibiting the use of Uzbek cotton. Take action NOW to tell Toys R Us to respect international labor rights in their cotton sourcing.
Photo credit: The Wasted Smile
The unconscionable scale of labor rights violations in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry will continue unless clothing companies speak out against the abuse and take action to make it stop. A large number of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers, including many of your competitors like Carter’s, the Children’s Place, the Gap and Gymboree have developed policies on Uzbek cotton.
So far, you have not addressed the specific problem of Uzbekistan’s state policy of forced child labor nor have you provided information about how you ensure that suppliers are prohibiting Uzbek cotton in your supply chain.
As a consumer and a concerned citizen, I ask that you take the following actions:
1) Issue a public statement condemning forced child labor and violations of labor rights in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry;
2) Commit to tracing your global cotton supply chain and instructing suppliers to stop sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan until the government ceases mobilizing children to harvest cotton;
3) Provide transparent documentation of your efforts in this area and establish a dialogue with the International Labor Rights Forum;
4) Join with other companies and industry associations that are working to ensure that worker rights are protecting in the production of cotton.
As children continue to be forced to pick cotton during harvest season, there is no better time to take action. I look forward to your urgent attention to this critical issue.