Cablegate: Ilo Conference On Employment in Iraq

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. (SBU) The International Labor Organization (ILO) sponsored
a conference in Amman on the role of employment in the
reconstruction of Iraq. The Iraqi Ministers of Labor and
Planning attended, as well as representatives from
international organizations, donor countries, and an Iraqi
labor union. Participants praised a U.S. Department of
Labor-funded program that creates employment centers. Some
participants were angered that only representatives of the
Allawi-friendly Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) were
invited and no one from the General Federation of Trade
Unions (GFTU), which is still identified with the Ba'athist
regime (reftel). End Summary.

Declaration and Plan of Action

2. (U) The ILO sponsored an International Conference on
Employment in Iraq on December 12-13 in Amman, focusing on
the crucial role of employment in rebuilding Iraq. The IIG's
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Leila Abdulatif, and
Minister of Planning, Mahdi Hafez, attended, in addition to
representatives from the UN, World Bank, IOM, and Iraqi
employers' and workers' organizations. The declaration
adopted by the conference highlighted the gravity of the
unemployment situation in Iraq and directly linked security
to the creation of jobs. The plan of action recommended
increasing reconstruction-related employment by focusing on
labor-intensive instead of capital-intensive methods. The
plan calls for the creation of a macroeconomic framework that
encourages investment and private enterprise. Strengthening
labor market institutions to meet international labor
standards was included in the plan as a means to address the
social dimension of economic reform. The plan specifically
mentions working with women's organizations to ensure equal
employment opportunities. The ILO has promised to post the
documents produced at the conference to its website at

DOL-Funded Employment Centers

3. (SBU) A program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor to
create integrated employment centers throughout Iraq received
positive recognition during the conference. Iraqi Minister of
Planning Hafez stated that 600,000 unemployed Iraqis were
registered with the centers and that jobs had been found for
200,000 of them. However, Lorena Londo, the IOM project
manager who implemented the program, told PolOff that IOM was
in the process of withdrawing from the program. Londo did not
expect to receive any additional funding to extend IOM's
participation. Overall she felt the program was successful
given the operating conditions in Iraq. Londo expected the
Iraqi Ministry of Labor (MOL) to carry on with the centers
for a short time. However, she cautioned that the centers
could easily lose out in the battle for funding if management
changes within the Iraqi MOL did not provide a leader to
champion the program.


4. (SBU) The IFTU, a labor federation with close ties to PM
Allawi, was the only Iraqi union to participate in the
conference. The GFTU, a hold-over from the Ba'athist regime,
was conspicuously absent. ILO Regional Director Taleb Rifai
expressed disappointment that the GFTU had not been invited
to participate in a conference that so directly affected
their interests. According to Rifai, all players in the Iraqi
labor movement must be included in the dialogue in order to
ensure legitimacy. The ILO organized the conference, but
clearly Rifai did not play a large role in the planning
process. He apologized during the closing session for what he
called "logistical" errors.

5. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.

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