Cablegate: U.S.-Bashing Leaves Regional Trade Union Congress

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Trade Union leaders from across the region used a
conference in Amman to denounce U.S. foreign policy. One of
the few real labor issues raised was a dispute with the
Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever. END SUMMARY.

2. The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU)
held its Fifth General Congress on August 14 and 15. The
opening session featured speeches from the leaders of
visiting trade unions including the President of the Arab
Federation of Trade Unions, and representatives from
Egyptian, Tunisian, and Chinese trade unions. The concurrent
theme in all of the opening remarks, with the exception of
the Chinese representative's, was a familiar denunciation of
American policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq,
Syria and Lebanon. The speakers each expressed support for
the Palestinian Intifada, and for Lebanese and Syrian
"struggles" against Israel, including for the Shaba' Farms.
They also called for an end to "American occupation" in Iraq
and vowed their support for the Sudanese government against
the "British-American conspiracy" over Darfur. None of the
speakers provided any substantive remarks about labor or
economic policy in Jordan. Minister of Labor Amjad Majali
provided a brief keynote speech, devoid of foreign policy
views, promising cooperation with the GFJTU and Jordan's
seventeen labor unions.

3. The only clear statement on a labor issue during the
congress was made by the Petrochemical Trade Union of Jordan.
The union organized a demonstration of between 50 and 100
people in front of Amman's Jerusalem Hotel where the congress
was taking place. The protesters carried banners in Arabic
and English decrying the termination of agreements between
Unilever and Jordan's publicly-held Industrial Commercial &
Agricultural Co. LTD. (ICA). According to the Petrochemical
Trade Union President, Khaled Al-Zyoud, the consequences of
the Unilever decision will be a loss of 70 million JD (100
million USD) and between 500 to 750 jobs. Interestingly,
Al-Zyoud, organized the protest without the knowledge of the
GFJTU. Al-Zyoud is recognized as one of the more aggressive
labor leaders in Jordan according contacts in the labor
unions. The ICA took out a full-page paid advertisement in
the August 15 English-language Jordan Times airing their
grievances against Unilever. The dispute has been ongoing
since 2001.


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