New campaign launched in support of Turkish clothing workers

It’s been two-and-a-half weeks since I last updated this blog, so, apologies for that. It’s been a busy time — keep reading …

We launched a major new campaign in support of workers in Turkey who are being sacked for joining a trade union by a German clothing business, Roy Robson. After less than a week online, the campaign appears in 15 languages and has 5,853 supporters. One of our German supporters received an interesting reply from the company, which he shared with us — and which we shared with IndustriALL, whose campaign this is. Meanwhile, the company has attempted to block our messages, but we retain the option of a petition version, which we will deliver to them, even if they’re not letting individual messages through by email. We publicised on social media the fact that they were trying to block us.

The Georgia campaign which we launched just three weeks ago continues to grow. It’s now up to 5,983 supporters in 19 languages. Over 400 of those supporters were responding to the Georgian language version of the campaign. We re-discovered a problem with this campaign and have noted to avoid it in future: sometimes, when the default message text is long, we need to break it up into shorter paragraphs, otherwise some servers reject this and we get error messages.

We also had a problem with some translations of campaigns not reaching us through the usual online form. We dealt with this by storing the translations on the server as well as sending them by email, so they are not lost. This appears to now work and we have not missed any translations since then.

We heard from the Georgian union which asked us to run the previous campaign (Rustavi Azot). Here is what they reported to us: “During the entire year 2017, the company conducted a very strong pressure against the trade union organization using various means. In fact, it was a fierce battle waged against local leaders and unfortunately, they could not resist. The company destroyed the trade union, but plenty of dedicated people still remain there and, in the future, they will restart the struggle and restore the organization. The international support received through the LabourStart was of huge help to our members. When you are supported by an army of people of more than 7,000 people, this is a very big incentive and motivation. Thanks to all of you, thanks to LabourStart, thanks to IndustriALL Global Union.

We’re continuing efforts to revive dormant languages, with some success. We sent out our first mailing to our Finnish list in several years, now that we have volunteer translators again for that language. We’re currently trying to get a volunteer translator for Thai. And we’re continuing with Japanese, Swedish and other languages that we had not been using for some time.

Next month is the Labor Notes conference in Chicago, at which LabourStart will have a stall. Derek Blackadder is coordinating our effort there. This is an important event, which will have well over 2,000 participants. We’ve shipped over copies of our most recent book (on organising migrant workers), have prepared a special flyer and website, and are arranging for the ILO to ship over copies of their new book on improving trade union communications which includes a positive reference to LabourStart.

We continue to try to recruit new subscribers to the mailing lists — this is now a regular weekly effort and includes reminders on social media, as well as the occasional pop-up window on our website.

Our mailing lists continue to grow. In the last couple of weeks we added 485 addresses of campaign supporters. Most of these are added to our new Georgian language list.

We’re going to continue with regular (probably monthly) “explainers” — mailings to our list with 500 word articles by local experts. The first one was by Derek on the split in the Canadian trade unions. For our second one, we’re hoping for a US writer (we’ve already approached one) to explain the Janus case before the Supreme Court.

We’ve had a request for RSS versions of our US state newswires, so we’re working on that. We already have this in JavaScript format, but RSS works better for some.

Finally, in the UK, we’re being given an award this coming weekend by the Ron Todd Foundation. Ron Todd was the general secretary of the TGWU, a forerunner of today’s Unite the Union. We invited UK supporters of LabourStart to attend the event at the Marx Memorial Library in London.


New campaign launched in support of Georgian unions – and in the Georgian language too

We launched a new campaign last week in support of the Georgian trade union movement which is fighting for a better labour law. For the first time, we are running the campaign in the Georgian language as well.  (See the screenshot on the left.)

The campaign is already live in seven languages with more to come, and has over 3,700 supporters.

We also closed the earlier Georgian campaign in support of metal workers there. Launched in November, it had 7,373 supporters and appeared in 18 languages – but not Georgian. We haven’t yet heard back from the local union on what effect it may have had.

Thanks to our new volunteer translators, we are running the Email Abdi (Iran) campaign in Japanese and Polish. It will be great to get those languages going again as we already have substantial mailing lists. We hope to also have campaigns live in Thai thanks to a new volunteer. And next week, we’ll begin the effort to revive our Arabic language campaigns as well.

Many more correspondents are now active following an appeal we sent out recently, our first direct message to our correspondents in a long time. We had 57 active correspondents this month, up from just 40 a couple of weeks ago.

We’ve heard from a group of our activists in Australia who have promised to recruit new correspondents and to try to do some of the work which Andrew Casey has done all these years.

To try to encourage people to join up to our English-language mailing list, we posted to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and added a pop-up advert on the country news pages. This has generated very few new subscribers.

Our Russian language Twitter feed is being revived – thanks to Kirill. And our French language feed is no longer protected and we’ll be seeking volunteers to help Andy with this. We were also able to gain control over the Australian LabourStart Twitter account which Andrew had set up and run, and have asked our local correspondents there to take this over.

We’re getting ready to participate in the Labor Notes conference in Chicago in April and have prepared a leaflet which we will be distributing there. We also have an advert in the conference programme and a team of volunteers which Derek is organising. We’ll have a table to distribute our publications, and to sign people up to our campaigns. This is a very important conference, with thousands of attendees, and is a great opportunity to introduce LabourStart to a North American audience.

Finally, we’ve won another award in the UK but I cannot reveal any details until it is made public in the next few days.


LabourStart’s Twitter accounts

LabourStart has 18 Twitter accounts, the vast majority of which are inactive.

The active ones, however, are growing very quickly.  (Thanks to the efforts primarily of Derek.)

If you want to help with any of these, especially with the inactive ones, please get in touch –

Below the list of our accounts, we’ve added a quick survey of how some of the major international trade union institutions are faring on Twitter as well.

Most of these are quite small, especially relative to the size of the number of union members they represent.  LabourStart’s feed is larger than all but one of these.

But our feed, and those of the other global labour websites, can be MUCH larger if we all make an effort.

DescriptionFollowers TodayFollowers in December 2017Last updated
English - LabourStart19,26718,488Today
Canada - English - LabourStartCanE8,2167,745Today
Australia - AndrewSCasey2,6812,65331.1.18
USA - LaborStartUSA2,6351,898Today
Canada - French - LabourStartCanF1,9441,872Today
Italian - LS_Italia5305383.2.18
Swedish - labourstartSE3693705.10.16
Indonesia - indoz135836015.10.15
Portuguese - LabourStartPT27627829.12.17
French - labourstart_fr227230Protected
German - LabourStartDE92928.6.16
Spanish - LabourStartES707020.8.14
Japanese - labourstartjpn192122.6.12
Russian - LabourStartRU19192.6.12
Norwegian - LabourStartNO181922.5.12
Turkish - LabourStartTR15163.5.12
Dutch - LabourStartnl12126.4.12
Arabic - LabourStartAR885.5.12
DescriptionFollowers on 12.2.18
Education International13,777
Written by admin in: Twitter |

Mass mailings with a difference, new correspondents, revived language editions and more

The main news story for us last week was the sudden passing of our friend and comrade Andrew Casey. (See the the stories below for our obituary, shared with LabourStart’s English language mailing list, and a video of Andrew’s first – and last – speech.)

We’ve begun a series of mass mailings, probably one per month, which will not focus just on a campaign, but on news and analysis. (This is one more way in which LabourStart is not a clicktivist organisation.) The first such message is a 500-word piece by Derek Blackadder about the split in the Canadian labour movement. It got a lot of feedback, and was a good thing. We’re open to your ideas about what subjects we should cover and who should write these short, 500-word pieces (with links of course).

This week we added four new correspondents, one from Australia, one from India and two from Georgia. That’s a total of six new correspondents in three weeks. I’ve decided to resume doing regular (probably monthly) mailings to all correspondents. If any of you have any thoughts about this — things we could be saying — please let me know.

We continue to revive our dormant language editions, and following the success with Finnish and Swedish, last week we recruited a new translator for Polish. Next week, we’ll focus on Japanese.

Finally, our mailing lists continue to grow, despite not having new campaigns. We picked up 105 new subscribers this week.


Solidarity Forever: Andrew Casey’s speech in Sydney last month

This began circulating on Facebook today and I want to share it very widely.

Apparently, it was Andrew’s very first public speech – at a rally in support of the Iranian people.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |

Andrew Casey

Andrew Casey died suddenly yesterday in his home city of Sydney, Australia.

As Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, wrote:

“Andrew Casey was a union man He stood tall amongst us as an organiser and an advocate with a passion for justice second to none. On top of a long career in the Australian trade union movement his journalist and campaign skills were deployed in the interests of workers all over the world. Andrew will be greatly missed.”

Sally McManus, the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, wrote:

“Andrew was a dear friend (or ‘cobber’ as he would say) and a comrade. He worked at the ACTU in the early 90s, then United Voice (when it was the LHMU) and then the AWU. He was running the Australian arm of LabourStart, the first and still only, international union online news and campaign network. He was a trade unionist through and through. We would often catch up, share stories and he was always looking to do more to support in whatever way he could. I respected Andrew so much because his was such a principled person. He was also a refugee and throughly good and generous.”

Andrew was all that. But he was more. To me and many others, he was a close friend and comrade.

I first met Andrew in Sydney nearly twenty years ago. He quickly grasped the potential of the Internet to help promote the labour movement and volunteered to be a LabourStart correspondent in the early days.

Our volunteer correspondents have the job of finding news stories about the trade union movement and posting links to them to our website. Andrew took that job incredibly seriously and would post dozens of such links every day. He would spot so many of the most important news stories, that other volunteers would complain that whenever they tried to post something, Andrew would have gotten there first. I gave him the title of “senior correspondent for the Asia-Pacific region” in the hope that this might rein him him. But to no avail. Andrew was interested in the entire world, and provided comprehensive coverage of countries thousands of kilometres away from his home.

On one visit to Australia I stayed with him and learned part of his secret: Andrew had difficulty sleeping, and would wake up in the middle of the night, sit down at his desktop PC, and trawl the web for even more stories for LabourStart.

But it wasn’t just the fact that he had the time. He totally “got” what our project was about, and was active in everything we did. The list of places we’d meet up is a list of LabourStart conferences, for Andrew attended nearly all of them – in Canada, Washington DC, London, Brussels, Berlin, Istanbul and of course Sydney where he coordinated our first conference in that region in 2012.

Andrew was passionate about our online campaigns. When we’d launch a campaign in support of embattled trade unionists in Fiji, Andrew would spend hours finding the most interesting news items, which he’d promote to the top of our news page. His knowledge of the labour movement in many parts of the world was encyclopedic.

In addition to his commitment to the trade union movement, Andrew was a lifelong supporter of Social Democracy and an opponent of totalitarianism – probably the result of being born in Hungary and taken out of the country by his parents after the Soviet Union suppressed the 1956 revolution. Andrew was particularly keen for the international labour movement to remain committed to trade union independence from the state, and worked hard with those unions and pro-labour NGOs in China and elsewhere to promote his vision. He was also a strong supporter of refugees, never forgetting how he and his parents came to be Australians.

He was also a committed fighter against racism and anti-Semitism. He built bridges between communities in his native Australia, and at international level strove to encourage reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.

His sudden loss is a real blow to LabourStart and the international and Australian trade union movements.

It is also a loss to all his friends and family, who loved him dearly.

May his memory be blessed.

Eric Lee

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |

Hello, Sweden, Finland and Poland. We’d like to introduce ourselves …

Turning the map of Europe red.

Reviving dormant languages: As you may recall, we’re going to devote time each week to reinvigorating editions of LabourStart that have become dormant in recent years. Our first three weeks in 2018 we have focussed on Swedish, Finnish and — from this morning — Polish. The results are excellent so far: 4 campaigns already live in Swedish and Finnish for the first time in a long time, 2 mailings already done and two more on the way, and 13 new volunteer translators in Sweden and Finland.

Esmail Abdi: Our new campaign in support of the jailed Iranian teacher trade unionist, launched last week, had 3,500 supporters six days ago — and is now up to over 5,800. This morning I wrote to over 71,000 people who were sent our mailing last week in English but who have not yet responded. This should lead to some more growth. We also updated our English list this week with reports about the victory in Fiji, the continuing crisis in Algeria and the IUF’s campaign against Coca-Cola in Indonesia.

Strengthening our display of country news: It was pointed out to us that in the Norwegian edition, if you looked for news from Fiji, you’d see nothing because there had been no news stories in Norwegian. We were asked to automatically include English news stories in the Norwegian country news pages, and have now done so. If your language is in that category — i.e., nearly everyone in your country reads English — we can fix this for you too.

We gave a lot of publicity on social media to the IFJ’s annual report on the killing of journalists, the calls on the ILO to do something about Fiji and the giant metal workers strike set to happen in Turkey.

Our mailing lists continue to grow. This week, we added 334 new subscribers to 11 of our lists.

We continue to get a number of individual donations and we should never forget the generosity of many trade unionists who give money every month to LabourStart. In January, these small donors contributed GBP 913.87.


Esmail Abdi is NOT free, he’s now back in Evin prison – and we launch a new campaign

Bad news: Esmail Abdi (pictured left) was free, but he is now back in Evin Prison. We launched a new LabourStart campaign three days ago at the request of the Education International, and within about 24 hours we had over 3,500 messages of protest sent to Iran.  Many more will go out in the next few days.

Meanwhile, our Fiji campaign which we just launched has come to an end – with a victory for the workers and an end to the lockout. Just under 8,000 people signed up to support that campaign, which was online for about one month and was translated into 19 languages — three of those translations were done after the campaign closed.

We added 51 new subscribers to our mailing lists, many of them in Arabic (due to the Algeria campaign which has over 9,300 supporters and still growing)..

We’ve done a lot of work to revive LabourStart in languages where we’ve not been active in recent years. The first two are Swedish and Finnish, and we’ve found more than 10 new translators and you’ll begin seeing the fruits of their work in the next few days. We have 1,886 subscribers on our Swedish and Finnish mailing lists, so it’s important to keep those people — and new ones we recruit — involved in our campaigns and receiving our mailings.

We add one new correspondent in Canada. We closed an old, inactive Canada-only campaign.  And do all the other, usual stuff, like backing up our files, answering correspondence, raising money, and so on.


Esmail Abdi is free, a new campaign is launched, and we add 550 new supporters to our mailing lists

Good news: Jailed Iranian teacher trade unionist Esmail Abdi (pictured) was released from jail. We publicised this to our mailing list and on social media.

We launched a new campaign in support of locked-out airport workers in Fiji.  As of today, it already has 7,753 supporters.

We closed our Belarus campaign after five months, our Indonesia campaign after three months and our Cambodia campaign which had temporarily been revived at the request of our partners.

We supported the struggle of Tim Horton’s workers in Canada with a number of special mass mailings, as well as using social media and our Events system to promote real-world actions in support of those workers.

We continue our discussion with comrades in Taiwan about supporting their struggle on labour law issues with a LabourStart campaign.

Our mailing lists continue to grow. We added 550 more subscribers so far this month, many of them to our Arabic list. We are also now beginning to add the names of our supporters’ trade unions to the mailing lists for the first time, which will allow us to create segments based on this.

We’re going to make all LabourStart’s 30+ languages this year come alive. Each week, we’ll focus on a different one. The first one is Swedish, where despite having a mailing list of over 1,200 names, we haven’t posted a translation of a campaign for more than a year, and the news page is dormant. We’ve taken a number of steps to deal with this problem, reaching out to hundreds of Swedish trade unionists for help.

We’re publicising our main news stories almost evert day on social media — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — as well as on our home page and through our Labour Newswires in RSS and JavaScript format. In the last couple of weeks this has included the story of an attempt to crush an independent trade union in Russia, an Argentinian government effort to encourage teachers to leave their union, the massive German metal workers strike, calls for a national strike in Fiji, and the case of Reza Shahabi, a jailed Iranian trade unionist

Derek is making a big effort to clean up our “Today in Labour History” database which is huge, but under-utilised.

And finally we’ve cleaned our our Events file, keeping only current and future events there, and are encouraging people reading this to add events from your country to LabourStart (if you don’t know how, please ask).


In Memorium Donations to LabourStart

Derek Blackadder here.

Bob Haywood, a well-known and widely-respected Canadian trade unionist died a couple of days ago. In lieu of flowers etc. he left instructions that mourners should make donations to either Our Times (an independent labour magazine) or to LabourStart.

I don’t believe that anyone has done this before.

It is a bit delicate but we’re trying to think of an appropriate way to draw attention to his request and perhaps in doing so encourage others to follow his example.

The obituary is HERE.

Any thoughts on this can be left here or sent to me at

Written by derek in: Uncategorized |

Powered by WordPress | Aeros Theme | WordPress Themes