by Eric Lee
New! Check out LabourStartJobs.org -- where trade unionists find the best union jobs.
The Internet, it used to be said, would change everything in our lives. As it turned out, that was something of an exaggeration.
There are only a few things the Internet does really well, and those can really be counted on the fingers of one hand. The Internet is, for example, the best source of breaking news. It is the best place to buy books (though I, for one, still enjoy the odd visit to an actual bookshop). It is great for planning trips (some airlines practically force you to buy tickets from their websites). And it's a great place to look for a job.
There are huge websites devoted to helping you find work, such as monster.com, and then there are the websites connected to more traditional ways of finding work, such as The Guardian's superb site.
Employers are finding the net is a fantastic way to get new recruits. After all, if someone comes to your website that probably means that they're interested in your organisation, and also that they have at least basic web skills.
Go to the website of any large corporation -- for example, BP -- and you'll find without any difficulty the page offering jobs. BP even has its own domain name for its "Career Centre" -- www.bpfutures.com.
Tesco's website is more focussed on selling groceries, but it too has a whole section devoted to the "exciting opportunities" available to anyone who chooses to work in its shops.
Go to a more cutting-edge company like Pret a Manger and you'll find "Careers" as one of the top options on their home page, even above "News".
So what about unions? Surely they're using the power of the internet to recruit new staff, right?
At first, the TUC website seems promising. There's a section listing jobs available in both the TUC and affiliate unions. But when I went to check last Thursday, the page was empty. Not a single job being offered online by the TUC or any other union in the UK.
Of course this is not the case, and a quick search of the online Guardian jobs database showed, for example, that UNISON is offering up several jobs online -- including jobs for people who want to work on the union's website. But when I checked on the UNISON website, I couldn't find any mention of these jobs. Nor are jobs offered by most other UK unions through their websites.
The US has long had a website which specialises in recruitment of staff for trade unions -- http://www.unionjobs.com
The problem is, that's the jobs are almost all in the US only. And unions have to pay $35 a month to list their jobs there.
Seeing how badly unions have used this powerful new technology to recruit staff -- particularly staff who know how to use the net to find a job -- we launched a special union jobs bulletin board on the LabourStart website five days ago.
In those five days, we have given publicity to over 40 jobs available in trade unions in the USA, the UK, South Africa and the Netherlands. (Six of those jobs are in Britain.)
What distinguishes our effort from unionjobs.com is that this is a truly international page. Our aim is to list jobs from all over the world. Often, you don't have to even live in a country to apply for a job there. The South African job is explicitly being offered to people who don't live currently in South Africa, for example. And listings on our site are free of charge.
The reaction of LabourStart's regular readership to our announcement was overwhelming -- within a few hours, hundreds had logged in to look up the available jobs.
In fact, it's the most popular board we've ever created -- even more popular than the one which is currently used to discuss the war in Afghanistan (and that one had 217 messages posted to it, last time I looked).
The LabourStart union jobs board is accessible at this address:
At present, the only way to submit a job available is to send an email to me, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you know of an available job in a union, please let me know.