Euan Gibb, LabourStart’s coordinator (pictured on the left) just sent this in:
LabourStart Brasil continues with its slow and steady growth. An important part of the national growth strategy has been presence at events. LabourStart was invited to present on the first day of a three-day national conference for trade union communicators in the city of São Paulo. The event was organized by the national union central CSP-Conlutas. A brief history of some of LabourStart´s successes over the years were presented and an invite to get involved in our campaigns, as correspondents and as translators was extended. Less than one week after participation in this conference, LabourStart Brasil received its first request for a Brazilian campaign!
The president of the country’s largest public university, the University of São Paulo has openly declared that he wants a union-free campus. As part of his project to realize to transform the school into a neoliberal university, the president is currently attempting to evict the union that represents the staff at the university. The administration invited military police armed with automatic rifles onto the campus in order to close the union offices with a large fence. Let’s show the Brazilian trade unionists how much support they have from around the world. Please be sure to sign the campaign yourself, translate this campaign into your local language, and help to share the campaign as widely as possible!
Derek Blackadder writes: “In December of 2016 the government of the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia gave two days’ notice of its intention to bar tens of thousands of students from its schools in an effort to put pressure on the teachers union. It also gave notice of the introduction of a bill to legislate larger class sizes and longer hours of work on the teachers, drastically affecting the quality of education. In co-operation with the Nova scotia Teachers Union and the Canadian Teachers Federation a LabourStart campaign was assembled and in less than 2 hours almost 1,000 Canadians sent protest messages to the province’s Premier. In combination with the NSTU’s meatspace actions the campaign was an important consideration in the government’s decision to open the schools after one day and to re-consider over-riding the teachers’ collective agreement.”
Last night, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) had a public meeting in central London with Deliveroo workers and other couriers.
LabourStart co-sponsored the well-attended meeting, and editor Eric Lee was one of the speakers.
Here is what he said:
My name is Eric Lee and I am the editor of the LabourStart website.
LabourStart is the news and campaigning website of the international trade union movement.
We do a lot of online campaigns in support of trade union rights around the world. Those campaigns are brought to us by our partners in the international trade union movement, including the global union federations, the International Trade Union Confederation, and national and local unions in many countries.
Over 135,000 trade unionists are part of our network who are mobilised when needed to support workers who are fighting for their basic human rights, for the right to join and form trade unions.
Right now, we are running campaigns at the request of unions in support of jailed trade unionists in Iran, Egypt, South Korea and Turkey; we are fighting against attempts to outlaw independent trade unions in Kazakhstan and demanding the rehiring of sacked trade union leaders in Liberia.
The fight for the right to join and form trade unions is a massive, world-wide fight. In many countries, workers do not have the possibility to join and form trade unions.
This is the case even though all workers, in all countries, have the legal right to unions because all countries are bound by the conventions of the International Labor Organisation, a United Nations body. Those conventions specifically give workers the rights to trade unions and every government in the world is obligated to uphold those rights.
Today many unions in many different countries are engaged in a fight against precarious work, and in support of regularised employment for workers. We have supported workers on this issue on many occasions, in different countries.
The struggle of Deliveroo workers here in London combines both of these issues — the right to have a trade union, and the fight against precarious work.
The so-called “gig economy” is a new way of describing an exploitative system where workers have no rights.
Where workers are poorly paid.
Where things like sick days and holidays do not exist.
Where workers can be sacked on a whim by their employer.
Where workers are treated with disrespect by their bosses.
We thought that here in the UK, we had moved beyond this. We have a proud history of trade unionism, have millions of members in powerful unions, and have won many victories over the decades.
But all that is under threat today. Even though we’re not in the situation faced by workers in Iran, where workers cannot join or form independent unions, or Turkey or South Korea where unions are struggling with repressive, anti-worker governments, we are also not where we want to be.
Trade unions in the UK have faced a historic decline, over many years.
They are a fraction of their former size. They wield much less power and influence than they did in the past. They struggle to organise new members, especially in the “gig economy”.
This is why the struggle at Deliveroo here in London is so important.
The workers at Deliveroo are not going to get decent pay, better working conditions, job security or respect at work just by asking for it.
They won’t get it with online petitions or sympathetic articles appearing in the Guardian.
They’ll win those things only when they have a powerful trade union in their workplace.
That is why I support the work being done here by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.
You have taken on the difficult task of helping to bring a trade union to Deliveroo.
I am confident that you will win, and that Deliveroo workers will someday soon enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement.
Until that happens, we at LabourStart, and I’m sure many other trade unionists, are ready to do all that we can help — by spreading the word, by supporting meetings like this one, by helping to raise money.
Whatever it takes. Whatever you need. We are with you.
We’re reviving our publications programme with four new books in the pipeline, and that will just take us through the winter. This is an ambitious plan and we’re starting off with a great one, with huge potential interest from the labour movement and others.
The first book of this new season is The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Workers Movement, edited by Joseph B. Atkins. This 136 page book offers readers compelling insight from 10 writers around the world (including LabourStart’s Eric Lee) about migrant workers’ rising consciousness of their rights and ability to assert those rights in a global economy that seems to place all power in the hands of mega-corporations. From tobacco workers in North Carolina to Vietnamese domestic workers in Taiwan and the network of organizations that support them, a movement is emerging that will pose a growing challenge to neoliberal rule. The book costs just $9.99 and is available from Amazon and most bookshops.
* Note that this report covers a six month period as we missed our September report.
* Good news on traffic to the website – very big gains in traffic to both the news and campaigns sites. Over 61,000 unique visitors to news site was a gain of nearly 50% compared to the first half of the year.There was an even bigger gain for the campaigns site.
* There’s been a very significant growth in interest in our news site in India.
* While most of the mailing lists either stayed the same size or shrunk, the Portuguese language list stands out for having grown by 36% in the last half year. Also our Brasilian presence on Facebook has shown enormous growth.
* Once again, the Canadian Twitter feeds in English and French have grown dramatically, while the USA Twitter following remains quite small.
* Of the five top campaigns in this half year, two came from the International Federation of Journalists (our first campaigns ever with the IFJ) and three of the five are currently active campaigns.
USA 23% – 23%
Canada 14% – 15%
UK 13% – 12%
India – 6%
Australia 5% – 5%
Most popular pages – page views:
Home page – English 51,618 – 34,337
USA – English 21,045 – 8,294
Canada – English 10,210 – 6,297
India – 11,069 – 1,807
Home page – Norwegian 4,091 – 2,746
Unique users – 56,270 – 37,851
Top countries (by sessions):
UK 15% – 16%
USA 13% – 14%
Canada 9% – 10%
Germany 5% – 7%
Most popular pages – page views:
South Korea: Release jailed trade unionists, respect workers’ rights – 8,969
Iran: Freedom for teacher union leader Esmail Abdi – 8,940
Korea: Don’t let Han’s death be in vain – 8,659
Turkey: Press freedom is essential for democracy, set journalism free! – 8,651
AFP: Demand fair terms for freelance photographers – 8,153
Esmail Abdi, a leading Iranian teacher trade unionist, was the subject of two LabourStart campaigns in the last year, the first one after he was blocked from attending a congress of the Education International (EI) in Canada.
This week we’ve launched a third campaign at the request of the EI now that he’s been sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Here are the results of those campaigns:
July 2015: 12,698
February 2016: 6,307
November 2016 (so far): 4,367
Please take a moment to spread news of this campaign in your country and to your unions — especially teachers unions. Thanks.
As you may remember, LabourStart was awarded the 2016 Arthur Svensson international prize for trade union rights. The organizers are inviting nominations for next year’s prize — full details are here. Please note that only “representatives and employees of trade unions throughout the world can nominate candidates for the prize.”
LabourStart has hired two new interns. I asked them to say a few words about themselves.
“I’m very excited to be joining the LabourStart team. I have been an active member of a small union, the IWW for some time and I am currently serving as a local branch officer. I look forward to be able to put the skills I have gained there to good use at LabourStart. My academic background is in Politics and I have a fair bit of experience in various grassroots campaigning organisations and movements.”
“I am proud to be working with LabourStart. I am a former national newspaper journalist, health campaigner and currently a union activist. I am looking forward to using my skills and seven years experience to promote workers’ rights throughout the world.”
I get to speak to trade unions quite a bit about online campaigns, but in this case I was able to speak a bit about that campaign which we did, how it turned out, and what we can do together in the future. I thought this part of my talk may be of interest to you:
The campaign was one of our larger ones, attracting 10,672 supporters.
It ran in 15 languages – translated by volunteers at LabourStart. Of course it ran in all the usual European languages including English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
But it also ran in Norwegian, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Slovenian and Ukrainian. And because workers outside Europe should also oppose social dumping, it ran in Indonesian and Hebrew too. It was even translated into Esperanto, the international auxiliary language.
It got support from all over Europe and all over the world – 1,456 people in Britain, where I live, supported it. 1,332 Americans signed up. It got over 1,000 Canadians and over 500 Australians too. The English version of the campaign got the support of 320 people in Belgium and another 309 in the Netherlands.
Nearly 550 people supported the Dutch version of the campaign and well over 1,000 supported the French version.
These are good numbers, but they also show that within the Belgian and Dutch labour movements, awareness of the campaign was quite small. The campaign had more support from Canadian workers than it did from Belgian workers.
And that is what we have to change.
We now have tools to mobilise the tens of millions of people in the international trade union movement, but we must first learn to mobilise our own members.
Next time, we must do better.
What was the result of this campaign?
We have not yet won. There have been ongoing negotiations with IKEA, involving BTB, the FNV and a Swedish trade union working together. A meeting took place in September with IKEA’s world-wide HR person. Unions continue to tell IKEA to either work with us to stop social dumping, or we will bring this to the attention of the media.
The struggle continues. Maybe we will have to do another campaign.