After 15 years, a new way to post news quickly and easily to LabourStart

bookmarkletPeople have been asking for something like this for a very long time.  Today I finally wrote the code to do it.

Login to post news as you normally would.  On the second screen, the one that’s entitled “Main Menu”, look at the text highlighted to the left.  The yellow arrow is pointing at it.

Drag the red box that says “Add2LS” up to your bookmarks toolbar.  (The bookmarks toolbar varies from browser to browser, but usually it’s the part of your screen immediately above the web page you are viewing.)

Leave it there — it will say “Add2LS”.

You only have to do this once.

Now, go visit a website that’s a source of labour news.

Find a news story you want to put on LabourStart.

Click on the “Add2LS” link in your toolbar.

And magic — you can begin adding the news story.

The link sits there permanently in your toolbar, and you never have to login again.

News stories always appear in one window (or tab) and the form in another so that you can glance back at the news story for stuff like the name of the publication, the title, and so on.

This should make it easier and quicker than ever for correspondents to post news stories.

Try it and let me know what you think — and how it can be improved.

LabourStart in Numbers – March 2014

Some highlights – focussing on the good news:

There have been huge increases to our Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic and Korean mailing lists — as high as a 27% gain for the Japanese list. The German list continues to grow, and has replaced Italian as our 5th largest list.

We saw growth in traffic to both our websites (the news and campaigning sites), with a doubling of traffic to the latter (due to new campaigns being launched in March).

For the first time we’re seeing Morocco appearing in the top 10 countries bringing traffic to LabourStart — this  is no doubt due to our campaign on behalf of the “Casablanca 5″.

In this report for the first time I provide data on which operating systems people are using to access LabourStart. It will be interesting to compare this month on month. Interesting to note that almost one in five users of our campaigns does so through a smartphone or tablet, with only about 80% still doing this through desktop and laptop computers.  The launch of our website for small screen devices couldn’t have come at a better time.

Mailing lists [with 200 or more subscribers]

English: 85,432 [85,207]
French: 7,707 [7,603]
Spanish: 5,106 [5,136]
German: 4,219 [4,062]
Italian: 4,110 [4,143]
Turkish: 3,253 [3,253]
Norwegian: 2,907 [2,836]
Russian: 2,525 [2,518]
Korean: 2,122 [1,834] +16%
Dutch: 1,391 [1,400]
Chinese: 1,073 [1,073]
Finnish: 624 [622]
Japanese: 494 [390] +27%
Arabic: 381 [319] +19%
Portuguese: 338 [269] +26%
Polish: 269 [269]
Indonesian: 262 [254]
Tagalog: 254 [254]
Hebrew: 250 [246]
Farsi: 242 [242]

Social networks

Twitter followers

English: 11,816 [11,571]
Canada English: 2,957 [2,853]
Canada French: 416 [395]
French: 205 [201]
USA: 209 [187]
Spanish: 67 [67]
German: 45 [42]
Japanese: 23 [23]
Russian: 16 [16]
Portuguese: 7 [7]


Like page (English): 8,546 [8,475]
Members of LabourStart group: 7,268 [6,843]
Like LabourStart page (French): 409 [389]
Like LabourStart page (German): 301 [279]
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 131 [131]
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 105 [105]

Members: 5,750 [5,737]

LabourStart group: 1,605 [1,562]

Union group on Flickr: 748 [744]


Correspondents: 699 [698]

Website traffic (1&1 statistics)

Total visits: 635,661 [552,898] (Clicky)

Total visitors: 40,645 [32,524]

Where they come from:

USA – 8,525 [7,311]
Canada – 8,140 [5,317]
UK – 4,809 [3,408]
Australia – 2,618 [2,083]
Norway – 2,132 [1,791]
Germany – 1,526 [1,126]
Indonesia – 1,252 [849]
Sweden – 888 [683]
France – 820 [721]
Netherlands – 712 [--]

Their operating systems:

Windows – 68.2%
Mobile – 15.6% (iOS – 7.3%; Android – 5.6%)
Mac – 14.8%
Linux – 1.4% (Clicky)

Total visitors: 29,094 [15,361]

Where they come from:

Canada – 6,464 [1,933]
USA – 4,087 [2,144]
UK – 3,965 [1,755]
Australia – 1,349 [882]
Germany – 1,236 [554]
France – 1,152 [644]
Spain – 1,038 [446]
Belgium – 1,030 [1,133]
Italy – 750
Morocco – 720

Their operating systems:

Windows – 68.4%
Mobile – 18.6% (iOS – 10.1%; Android – 6.9%)
Mac – 11.1%
Linux – 1.8%

Improving LabourStart’s fundraising – some thoughts

I’ve had a discussion with some of the senior correspondents and have also triggered a discussion on the e-Campaigning Forum mailing list, have learned a few things, and wanted to share some thoughts.

First of all, our current quarterly fundraising campaign is going poorly.  We’ve raised just £1,534 even though we’ve mailed to our English, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, German, Hungarian and Indonesian lists.  Our message therefore has reached 100,045 people who have donated an average of 1.5 pence (£0.015) per person.

This has to be understood in the context of what are actually rising donations to LabourStart — we’re up 30% compared to where we stood two years ago.  Many of those donations are from unions — local, national and global unions.

But we need to take some steps to improve our ability to raise money from the individuals who support our campaigns and who are on our mailing lists.

Basically, it comes down to two things — though I welcome suggestions for more:

First, I will now return to an annual appeal for funds rather than a quarterly appeal.  That way, people will be getting 20 or more campaign messages from us over the course of a year before they hear from us asking for money.

Second, based on the extraordinary success story of Greenpeace UK, I will embed a much more prominent and clearly branded donation form on the “landing page” people see when they sign up to a campaign.  Apparently, the best time to ask people for donations is when they’re actually supporting a live campaign.

Raising money for LabourStart – reaching out to a wider audience

SECOND & FINAL UPDATE FOR TODAY: After 6 hours the total is £661.42; this does not include a number of people who requested details for bank transfers. 

How does this compare to previous efforts?  As I wrote in January: “In the first few hours of our quarterly fund-raising appeal, we’ve raised over £1,500. We’ve had 35 donations so far in 5 different currencies, and pledges of more to come.  By comparison, in our previous appeal (October) we managed to raise £2,985 in the first 3 days — and £2,188 of that in the first 21 hours. In July we did poorly, raising only £1,844 in the first 10 days online. And last April we raised about £4,050 in the first week of the campaign. So it’s a good start …”

UPDATE: After 1 hour, we’ve gotten the message translated into 2 more languages (German and Hebrew), so it’s gone out to 90,117 people.  Of those, 16 have already responded and donated a total of £145.77.  There were several requests for bank details for bank transfers, and at least two of the donations were the first of new monthly payments.

For the first time in a very long time we’re reaching out to all of LabourStart’s 120,000+ supporters in a fundraising appeal, which is going out today.

All of our recent appeals have gone out to “power users” — people who’ve signed up to several of our campaigns — but this time, we’re reaching out to everyone on our list (pretty much all of whom will have been campaign supporters).

Please do what you can to spread the word and encourage your union to make a substantial donation to LabourStart.

Here is the text of the appeal:

The first three months of 2014 have been a very busy time at LabourStart — and we expect things to get much busier in the next three months.
In just a few weeks, we’ll be holding our largest and most ambitious Global Solidarity Conference ever, in Berlin.
We launched new campaigns in support of sacked call center workers in Morocco, garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia, public sector workers in Peru, pilots at Russian airline Aeroflot, Colombian union leaders facing attacks, and jailed trade union leaders in South Korea.  We ran a short and successful campaign demanding that charges be dropped against trade union leaders in Fiji.
We participated in, and covered for labour media, the trial of public sector workers in Istanbul.
We published a second book in French (on the global labour movement) and are preparing our fourth book in English, which we’ll launch at our conference in May.
We have new editions of LabourStart in Hungarian and Hindi.

We’re just about to launch our web app — allowing you to view LabourStart on any smartphone or tablet.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point.
LabourStart has become an invaluable resource for the international trade union movement.  
But it costs money.  We pay rent for an office in London, employ a small staff in the UK and in Germany, and have mounting expenses maintaining our websites and mailing lists.  
Obviously we get no money from big corporations and governments.  We rely on you, the people who support our campaigns, who understand just important our work is.
I’d like to ask each of you to consider donating at least $25.00 US (£15.00; Euros 18.00).  If you can give more, please do.  Whatever you can afford will be appreciated.
Please click here to donate — and then please share this message with your fellow union members.
Thank you very much.

The weeks in review – 17-28 March

Technical innovations: This week we made two technical steps forward. The first is a web app for smartphones and tablets that’s now been tested on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry smartphones and seems to work. The second is our own URL shortening system (like or that allows us to create addresses like

Berlin conference: The number of registrations continues to grow — we’re now up to 494, up 46 in the last 11 days. The number of German participants (crucial if the conference is to be a success) is up to 103, a gain of 12 in this period. We’re currently working on sending visa invitation letters to several dozen registrants who requested it, sorting out solidarity housing for those who can’t afford the hotel or hostel, building the nearly 50 workshops that are planned, getting speakers for all 3 plenaries, organizing the Saturday night party, raising the money to do all this, and much more. The organizing committee in Berlin is growing and meeting regularly. There’s an international Skype conference call each week that Eric, Tom, Gisela and Derek have been holding as well. We have less than 8 weeks to go …

Campaigns: We haven’t launched any new campaigns in the last couple of weeks, but our Casablanca campaign is going quite well and we think we’ll get one of the five sacked call centre workers to come to speak in Berlin. We had a big surge in supporters for our Rana Plaza campaign yesterday after announcing that a couple of companies had agreed to pay compensation. We promoted — for the first time — our new social media links on the campaign page, and this has generated a number of Facebook likes (1,187) and Tweets (185) for that campaign. Not surprisingly, the links to promote campaigns on Google+ and LinkedIn are proving far less popular. We closed our Kazakhstan campaign a few days ago as well (see report by Kirill below).

News: A couple of weeks ago we had only 76 active correspondents (out of some 700); following my appeal to them to get more active, we now have 99 active ones, who have posted 5,003 news stories in March — an average of 179 news stories every day this month, with each correspondent contributing an average of 51 stories, or nearly two per day. The most active correspondents in March were (in order): Derek Blackadder (Canada), Andrew Casey (Australia), Andy Funnell (France), Roy Nitzberg (USA), Patrick Craven (South Africa), S. G??bi?ski (Poland), Efraim Davidi (Israel), and our intern, Tom Harris (UK).

Prizes and competitions: LabourStart has been entered into three international competitions the results of which we will know within a month. See below for details.

At long last, LabourStart is now ready for the smartphone

iphone5The last time I wrote about this was some six months ago.

At the time we were struggling to create a version of LabourStart that would work on phones — this after several failed attempts to create native versions for iPhones and Android phones and later even for Firefox OS.

But today we have finally got a working version of LabourStart for the hundreds of millions of people who access it on smartphones.

You can see it by going into your web browser on your smartphone and going to

That’s right — no change to the URL.

It’s using a form of “responsive design” so that it detects whether you’re using a large desktop computer or a tiny smartphone, and renders the correct version.

What you should see is something like what I’ve illustrated this article with, above.

To get this to appear on your phone’s home screen, follow the instructions.

On an iPhone or iPod Touch, tap on the ‘Add to home screen’ link in your browser.

You should then see this icon appearing on your phone’s home screen:

The next step is to internationalize this, as for the moment it’s only working in English.

We also need to test it on all kinds of phones.  It seems to work fine on Apple and Windows devices, but it would be good to test on Android, Blackberry and Firefox phones too.

We’ll also need to write up instructions to people on how to install it, as it’s not a native app you’d download from the iTunes Store or Google Play — it’s a web app, so it downloads differently.  We may even want to do this as a short video.

And we’ll want to tweak it even more, making it look less and less like a web page, more and more like a proper app.  We may even want to break it up (it’s now a long scroll) into separate pages for news and campaigns.

I look forward to reading your feedback and learning from your experiences before we introduce this to the wider world.

Another way LabourStart can be useful – a request from lawyers in the USA

supreme_court_buildingWe’ve recently received this request from a lawyer (who we knew years ago as a labour movement activist):

“You may or may not have heard that about a year ago, the US Supreme Court gutted an important US law, the Alien Tort Statute, that we had been using for international human rights cases against US companies. Our area of law is now in flux, and US corporations have an incredible amount of impunity for harm they do overseas. We are looking for new cases to test out new legal theories. Since you receive reports from around the world of the sorts of violations that could form the basis of a test case, I thought you might be able to keep an eye out for potential cases for us. The ideal test case would involve a US company and a relatively egregious harm (so for example a factory fire in which people died or were seriously injured, where the factory supplied to a US company). The stronger the connection to the US company the better, as ultimately we need to sue a US-based defendant. … [we] would have the opportunity to be a part of re-establishing mechanisms for international corporate accountability in the US.”

I’ve asked around and everyone I spoke to thought we should help.  So I’m appealing today to all LabourStart correspondents to keep an eye open for this sort of thing and let me know when they find something.  We’ll review this again in two months to see if we’ve come up with anything worthwhile.

Our very own link shortener – and why it matters

When we promote LabourStart campaigns on Twitter and elsewhere, we often need to shorten the link so that it will fit.

For example, we take this link to the current Morocco call centre campaign –

– and we shorten it using to this –

We’ve done this for years, and it’s a great tool.  (We’ve used alternatives to as well, including tinyurl.)

But there are a couple of downsides:

First, the URL created is not instantly memorable, nor would you want to say it aloud at a public meeting, or radio interview or over the phone.  (Just try saying “”.)

Second, to do this, we rely on external hosts — which we do not pay for — to relay our traffic.  So far we’ve had no problems with this, but it would far better if there were a way to do this on our own server.

In other words, LabourStart could use its own URL shortener.

And now we have one.

Thanks to the people who wrote YOURLS I’ve now been able to create these shortened URLs easily: -> -> ->

And we’re not limited to campaigns.

For example, correspondents who want to login to post news now have to key in this:

This is easier to remember, and shorter:

So, LabourStart now has its own URL shortening system.  And here are the advantages:

  • Easier to say.
  • Easier to remember.
  • Fits better onto a tweet.
  • More secure and reliable than an external host.
  • And finally, preserves our branding — labourstart instead of