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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06AMMAN8656 2006-12-03 05:18:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

JORDAN'S MINISTER OF LABOR RE-APPOINTED AND

Tags:   ELAB ETRD GTIP KTEX JO BG 
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FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5866
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0106
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0033
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0281
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0121
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0217
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0132
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2783
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 0056
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0034
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 4167
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 008656 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE PASS TO USTR SAUMS, ROSENBERG, KARESH
STATE PASS TO DOL JAMES RUDE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD GTIP KTEX JO BG
SUBJECT: JORDAN'S MINISTER OF LABOR RE-APPOINTED AND
RE-INVIGORATED

REF: AMMAN 8572

AMMAN 00008656 001.3 OF 002




1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Minister of Labor Basem Salem was
re-appointed in the cabinet re-shuffle announced November 22
(reftel). Salem intends to re-double efforts to address
labor problems in Jordan. Salem feels that Jordan's policy
decision to readily admit its labor problems has been well
received by the private sector, NGOs, and the USG. Salem is
now eager to translate the GoJ's admissions into concrete and
permanent fixes, and to do so urgently. Salem notes the
international community has been patient with Jordan, and
that the GoJ now needs to demonstrate real movement towards
permanent solutions. He intends to "run the Ministry of
Labor like a private-sector company" that will better target
individual labor violators, and at the same time increase the
number of available Jordanian workers in the sector. His
vision for the road ahead includes seeking USG assistance for
revamping the ministry's inspection and prosecution
capabilities, and for a technical expert to run a
newly-created Department of Migratory Affairs. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) Minister of Labor Basem Salem was re-appointed in
the cabinet re-shuffle announced November 22. The re-shuffle
saw the departure of 7 ministers, including a shift of the
former Minister of Industry and Trade, Sharif Zu'bi, to
Minister of Justice. Sharing the news of his re-appointment
with EconOff and AIDOff, Salem talked openly about his views
on the labor situation in Jordan and his approach for his new
term.

Open Approach Legitimizes GoJ Commitment...


--------------------------





3. (SBU) Discussing his recent trip to the U.S. for the
annual buyer-sponsored Business Social Responsibility (BSR)
conference, in which he participated in a roundtable on
Jordan's labor situation, Salem expressed satisfaction with
the response he got from buyers and USTR participants. He
was glad to have attended BSR, and said the muted feedback he
got from buyers was a result of openly owning up to the labor
problems in the QIZs. Coupled with his pledge to fix labor
problems and his demand that "buyers not run away because if
they run away, then they are admitting they are the problem,"
he felt there was little room for the buyers to demand more.



4. (SBU) The positive encouragement he received from USTR
representatives at BSR furthered his belief that the open
admission of a labor problem - and Jordan's solemn pledge to
fix it - was the right approach. He said he believed all
parties were "convinced of our (GoJ) commitment."



5. (SBU) Asked for his thoughts regarding the USAID-funded
short-term assessment program, Salem again made the point
that GoJ willingness to allow third-party inspections of QIZ
factories, in the absence of a strong GoJ public
inspectorate, was the right policy decision as demonstrated
by labor violations being uncovered. These include some
allegations of human-rights violations. Asked specifically
about his plans to address these allegations, Salem said, if
confirmed, he would shut down the factories immediately.
Salem took the opportunity to offer a more critical analysis
of his Ministry's response to labor rights violators and said
his Ministry needs to do more to target them individually
with legal action.

...But Time for Real Action is Now


--------------------------





6. (SBU) Salem agreed that the lack of firm legal action to
date remains one of the biggest challenges to demonstrating a
long-term commitment to improving the labor situation in
Jordan. He made it clear that he is impressed by the
short-term assessment team's progress, and wants to see the
program extended and the head of the program given the power
"to prosecute and not just report." Salem conveyed his
respect for the work being done and his desire to give the

AMMAN 00008656 002 OF 002


program more power to "launch investigations, prosecute, and
shut down factories." Given the resources for a capable
legal department, he imagined there could be 30 to 40
factories shut down. Additionally, with Minister Zu'bi now
in charge of the Justice portfolio, Salem said he expects
closer coordination on prosecutions of labor violators.

New Requests for USG Assistance


--------------------------





7. (SBU) In addition to requesting that the lead of the
short-term assessment team be retained to head his public
inspectorate and/or advise on the structure and role of a
legal department, Salem also requested USAID consider
assistance to a new Department of Migratory Affairs (DMA).
NOTE: Recommended by an ILO consultant, the DMA would provide
policy coherence and inter-agency response on migration
issues. The need for foreign workers is likely to intensify
with higher foreign investment flows and economic growth in
Jordan. The DMA would provide an institutional framework to
oversee the varied policy aspects of migration currently
being handled separately by the Ministries of Labor,
Interior, and Industry and Trade. END NOTE. Salem wants USG
assistance focused on improving his ability to penalize and
prosecute labor violators as well as better manage migration.
He is looking for other donor organizations to help him
cultivate the unemployment rolls in Jordan for workers to
fill the growing demand for labor in the country.



8. (SBU) COMMENT: Minister Salem seems seized by the need to
demonstrate action against labor violators. His
re-appointment has definitely energized him to deal with the
problem head-on. Beyond requesting further assistance, his
immediate steps to address labor violations remain unclear,
however. Additionally, business community concerns about
rising costs of doing business in Jordan are not a top
priority for Salem. To be fair, however, these concerns do
not fall directly under Salem's portfolio but rather under
that of the new Minister of Industry and Trade, Salim
Khaza'ilah.
HALE