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Cablegate: Mfa On Jordan Labor Case and Iom Role

VZCZCXRO5997
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0356/01 0871022
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271022Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7486
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4499
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0036

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000356

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH, AND G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV TIP ELAB KWMN KCRM SMIG PREL VM

SUBJECT: MFA ON JORDAN LABOR CASE AND IOM ROLE

REFS: A) HANOI 0309; B) AMMAN 0902

HANOI 00000356 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: PolCouns held a detailed one-hour meeting on March
27 with MFA Consular Department Chief of Overseas Consular Affairs
Vu Le Ha regarding resolution of the case of over 200 Vietnamese
factory workers on strike in Amman, Jordan. PolCouns stressed the
benefit of involving the International Organization for Migration
(IOM) to ensure transparency in the repatriation of the workers. Ha
responded that in principle the GVN has no problem in working with
IOM and indeed has worked with them on other worker returnee cases
in the past. However, from a logistical point of view, they do not
see the need to engage IOM's services as they have their own team on
the ground; a team of GVN Foreign and Labor Ministry officials,
along with representatives of the Vietnamese recruitment firms
involved, has been in Amman since March 10 negotiating a solution
and processing requests for repatriation. MFA does understand the
need for transparency and objectivity and will consider further
interaction with IOM. At the same time, it appears the GVN is still
trying to negotiate with the GOJ to allow the bulk of the workers to
remain. According to MFA, the GOJ found 216 Vietnamese workers in
violation of Jordanian labor law and requested that they return to
Vietnam; an initial group of five workers has already returned to
Vietnam without any problems. End Summary.

GVN CONSIDERS IOM INVOLVEMENT
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) On March 27, PolCouns and Poloff met with Mr. Vu Le Ha,
Overseas Consular Affairs Chief, Consular Department of the GVN MFA
to discuss resolution of the case of over 200 striking Vietnamese
garment workers in Amman, Jordan.
PolCouns expressed appreciation for the GVN's previous updates on
the situation (Ref A) and said the involvement of IOM in the
repatriation process could promote transparency and address
international concerns about the nature of that process. Polcouns
stressed that as an independent, UN-affiliated organization with no
connection to the USG or any activist group IOM is uniquely
qualified to address any concerns about the process in a credible
way that would benefit all involved.

3. (SBU) Ha responded that the GVN had no problem working with IOM,
noting that the GVN had just become an official member of IOM in
November 2007 and had worked with IOM in a past case to repatriate
Vietnamese workers from Lebanon. He said the GVN team on the ground
had informed IOM Jordan of the situation and that IOM in Hanoi was
also well aware of it.

4. (SBU) Ha explained that in the previous Lebanon case, the GVN did
not send out its own team but rather worked through IOM. In this
case, Vietnam had sent out a team of both government officials and
recruitment company representatives to Jordan, so the MFA did not
see the need to engage IOM's services. From the GVN point of view,
the number of workers involved is not high and the recruitment firms
were already helping to buy the air tickets for returnees. Ha added
that if IOM had a request, "we would cooperate willingly with them,"
and that if the case were on a larger scale, the GVN would request
assistance from IOM. Ha stated that Vietnam "takes responsibility
for its citizens."

5. (SBU) PolCouns reiterated that even with the GVN clearly very
engaged in addressing the needs of its citizens in this case it
would be worthwhile to look closely at the benefits of involving IOM
as an independent and impartial player that could vouch for the
transparency of the repatriation process. He noted that the USG is
not seeking further engagement on this issue but hopes to play a
constructive role in addressing concerns raised by groups that have
an interest in this case. Ha said he highly appreciated the
suggestion and said he would relay the information to his superiors
and the GVN team on the ground in Amman. He added that the GVN
would at least "draw lessons from this case for the future."

GVN ON HOW THE CASE EVOLVED
---------------------------

6. (SBU) Recounting the events that led to the current situation, Ha
said over 261 Vietnamese workers, mostly female, had gone to Jordan
to work for a Taiwanese garment firm, W&D Apparel. On February 9,
the workers went on strike because the employer was not complying
with contract specifications and was paying a lower salary. In
addition, Ha said the workers were faced with "sub-standard" living
conditions and "discrimination," in comparison to other foreign
workers.

7. (SBU) After the initial February 9 demonstration, the employer,
W&D Apparel, increased the salary and some of the workers returned
to work. However, many did not. Ha said this was because the NGO
Boat People SOS had interfered to "make a political demonstration"

HANOI 00000356 002.2 OF 002


out of the situation by inciting the workers not to return to work
in exchange for payments and a promise of political asylum to the
United States. According to Ha, on February 19, those who chose to
remain on strike attacked those who returned to work. Local
Jordanian police subsequently intervened to separate the two groups
and a scuffle with police officers ensued.

8. (SBU) Ha said the MFA rapidly convened a working group and on
March 10 sent a GVN delegation including MFA and Ministry of Labor,
Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) officials, along with
representatives from the involved Vietnamese recruitment companies,
to Amman to protect its workers' rights and to reconcile differences
between the two factions of workers. After negotiations on the
ground, in early March the employer agreed to take back some of the
workers but identified others as "troublemakers" that they would not
take back. The Vietnamese delegation, in turn, agreed to help
repatriate those workers that wanted to return to Vietnam and those
that had been rejected for re-employment by the employer. On March
16, a first group of five Vietnamese workers landed at Hanoi's Noi
Bai Airport.

MFA: GOJ SAYS WORKERS VIOLATED LABOR LAWS, MUST LEAVE
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (SBU) Ha said the GVN team was now making arrangements for others
to return. When asked to clarify how many returnees he was talking
about, Ha said it was a total of 216; the GOJ Ministry of Labor and
the employer had said that most had violated local Jordanian labor
laws and needed to return to Vietnam. However, Ha said the exact
numbers to return was still to be determined as the GVN continues
negotiating with the GOJ to allow those workers who wanted to remain
and work to do so. Ha said his government acted in a "timely and in
a humanitarian manner" to protect the "legitimate rights of
Vietnamese workers."

CLARIFICATION ON NUMBERS OF RETURNEES
-------------------------------------

10. (SBU) Ha said that the GVN was planning to return a total of 216
Vietnamese workers from Jordan, five having already returned, 161
from one factory and 55 from another. He clarified that the
Jordanian government had found that these 216 strikers had violated
Jordan's labor law but had stipulated that the employer provide all
back pay before each worker departed. Ha said the current situation
was much less tense and the GVN team on the ground was still trying
to negotiate with the GOJ to allow those workers who wished to
remain and work to do so.

RETURNEES WILL NOT FACE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTION
--------------------------------------------- -

11. (SBU) In response to a question from Poloff, Ha said those who
returned to Vietnam would not face legal prosecution nor financial
penalties from the GVN because they had not violated Vietnamese law.
However, he added that returnees may have to negotiate with their
labor recruitment firms regarding their contracts, implying
potential financial penalties, but that this would be a "civil
matter." He added the first group of five workers to leave Jordan
had all returned to their homes and were now "living normal lives."

COMMENT: STILL TIME TO INVOLVE IOM
----------------------------------

12. (SBU) Mr. Ha was very open in his discussion of the case and it
appears the GVN does not have any problem working with IOM as it has
in the past. In this particular case, with a team of GVN officials
and recruitment company representatives on the ground handling
repatriation the GVN feels that they do not need IOM's services.
Still, with only five workers of the 216 having returned to Vietnam
so far, there is still time to engage IOM in the process in some
capacity should the GVN choose to do so. Regardless of the GVN's
views of BPSOS's role in instigating the strikes, the GVN seems
committed to resolving this issue in a positive manner.

MICHALAK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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