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Cablegate: Italian Union Confederation Eager to Help Promote

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ROME 000595

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR SA/PAB, DRL/IL AND EUR/WE
DOL FOR ILAB/BRUMFIELD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON EAID PGOV AF IT AFGHANISTAN
SUBJECT: ITALIAN UNION CONFEDERATION EAGER TO HELP PROMOTE
LABOR STANDARDS IN AFGHANISTAN

REF: KABUL 303

1. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

2. THIS CABLE CONTAINS AN ACTION REQUEST FOR DRL/IL AND
SA/PAB; PLEASE SEE PARA 7.

3. THE COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT ARM OF ONE OF ITALY'S
MAJOR LABOR CONFEDERATIONS (THE ITALIAN CONFEDERATION OF
LABOR UNIONS, OR CISL) IS SEEKING MODEST FUNDING ($300,000)
FROM THE ITALIAN MFA TO SUPPORT A CAPACITY-BUILDING PROJECT
UNDER WHICH THE CONFEDERATION WOULD PARTNER WITH AND HELP
DEVELOP AN AFGHAN MINISTRY OF LABOR. OFFICIALS FROM ISCOS,
THE CISL'S DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION, ORIGINALLY BRIEFED US
ON THEIR PROPOSAL IN LATE DECEMBER. WHEN CONTACTED IN EARLY
FEBRUARY, THEY REITERATED THEY WERE STILL AWAITING A
DECISION FROM THE MFA; IN THE MEANTIME, THEY WERE
COORDINATING WITH THE ILO TO DEVELOP A SEPARATE PROPOSAL TO
HELP DEVELOP A NASCENT TRADE UNION MOVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN
AS WELL.

4. WITH 4.1 MILLION MEMBERS, THE CISL IS ITALY'S SECOND-
LARGEST UNION CONFEDERATION; IT HAS SUBSTANTIAL EXPERIENCE
WITH DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION PROGRAMS. IT ALREADY HAS
UNDERTAKEN SIMILAR CAPACITY-BUILDING PROJECTS WITH NASCENT
LABOR MINISTRIES IN MOZAMBIQUE, ERITREA AND BOSNIA. ISCOS
HAS EXPERIENCE IN THE REGION, HAVING PARTNERED WITH THE
PAKISTANI LABOR FEDERATION TO DEVELOP TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR
AFGHAN REFUGEES (REPORTEDLY IN COOPERATION WITH USAID).
ISCOS ALSO HAS CONSIDERABLE EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH THE
SOLIDARITY CENTER, THE DEVELOPMENT AND ASSISTANCE ARM OF THE
AFL-CIO.

5. UNDER THE PROPOSED PROJECT, ISCOS WOULD INTER ALIA:
-- HELP THE MINISTRY ORGANIZE ITSELF AND OPERATE, ADVISING
ON ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE AND TRAINING PERSONNEL;
-- PROVIDE TRAINING IN LABOR MARKET ANALYSIS AND OTHER
FUNCTIONAL SPECIALTIES;
-- ASSIST IN WRITING NECESSARY LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS
TO ENSURE AFGHAN LABOR LAW COMPLIES WITH INTERNATIONAL HUMAN
RIGHTS AND CORE LABOR STANDARDS;
-- CREATE SELF-SUSTAINING "TRAIN THE TRAINERS" PROGRAMS FOR
MINISTRY EMPLOYEES.

6. COMMENT: WE RECOGNIZE THE AFGHAN GOVERNMENT AND
INTERNATIONAL DONORS MAY HAVE MORE PRESSING, URGENT NEEDS TO
MEET BEFORE TURNING TO DEVELOPING A LABOR MINISTRY AND
ANALYZING LABOR MARKETS -- ESPECIALLY GIVEN FINANCE MINISTER
GHANI'S RECENT REMARKS ABOUT REDUCING THE NUMBER OF
MINISTRIES (REFTEL). HOWEVER, TO THE EXTENT WE ARE TRYING
TO PROMOTE IMMEDIATE OR GRADUAL ADHERENCE TO CORE LABOR
STANDARDS, THE ISCOS PROPOSAL MIGHT OFFER A COMPARATIVELY
LOW-COST WAY TO INCULCATE A SENSE OF RESPECT FOR THOSE
STANDARDS, AND STRATEGIES FOR PROMOTING THEIR ADHERENCE,
WITHIN THE APPROPRIATE AFGHAN MINISTRY. THE PROJECT MAY
ALSO FIT IN WITH INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY GOALS OF IMPROVING
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND STRENGTHENING THE CENTRAL
GOVERNMENT IN AFGHANISTAN. WHILE THE GOI ITSELF HAS ITS
HANDS FULL WITH MANAGING AFGHAN JUDICIAL REFORM EFFORTS,
WORKING THROUGH ISCOS ON LABOR MINISTRY DEVELOPMENT WOULD
THEORETICALLY NOT DISTRACT FROM THIS FOCUS. WE HAVE
REQUESTED ITALIAN FUNDING FOR MANY OTHER DEVELOPMENT
PROJECTS, HOWEVER, IN AFGHANISTAN AND ELSEWHERE, AND THE GOI
HAS BEEN STRAIGHTFORWARD THAT ITS RESOURCES ARE STRETCHED.
IF THE PROJECT IS DEPENDENT ON GOI FUNDING, IT MAY BE A NON-
STARTER.

7. ACTION REQUEST: DEPT. PLEASE ADVISE IF YOU WISH US TO
ENCOURAGE THE ITALIAN MFA TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR PROMOTION
OF CORE LABOR STANDARDS IN AFGHANISTAN, EITHER THROUGH THE
ISCOS PROPOSAL OR A REVISED VARIANT MORE NARROWLY TARGETED
AT THIS REQUIREMENT.

8. MINIMIZE CONSIDERED - KABUL.
SEMBLER

2003ROME00595 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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