Bit of Outreach in Canada

Derek Blackadder here.

I spoke in Vancouver at a fringe event at the convention of the Confederation of Canadian Unions, the smallest of the 4 central labour bodies here. About 160 present. I had about an hour, including time for questions, on the theme of ‘LabourStart Behind the Scenes: what we do, how we do it and how we can help’. Continue reading

Report on the LabourStart Retreat in Brussels last month

This report was drafted by Martina and edited by Eric. Comments are open — please feel free to make comments and ask questions below.

The LabourStart Retreat had the character of a working meeting. Presentations by Dan Gallin, Martina Hartung, Eric Lee and Gisela Neunhoeffer prepared the basis for discussions and we worked concretely on specific subjects in working groups or in a World Café format. This mix of presentation and discussion enabled the successful integration of all participants on all subjects and the result wasa detailed and concrete future action plan. Unfortunately, one speaker had to cancel due to illness in the short term. Besides that, there weren’t any further changes to the program. Continue reading

Campaigns supporting workers in Estonia, Turkey, India, Yemen, Israel, etc.

Most of the work in the last 13 days has focussed on campaigns:

  • We launched a new campaign at the request of the ITF, in support of workers in Estonia.
  • We’re keeping our Turkey/Mulberry campaign live at the moment at the request of IndustriALL pending some developments there.
  • I wrote to Sharan Burrow at the ITUC offering our help in growing the joint campaign with the ILO “50 for Freedom”. She replied and is happy to have our help.
  • We gave extensive publicity to the IUF’s new PepsiCo campaign on our home page, to our mailing lists, and on social media.
  • We received a campaign request from WAC Ma’an in Israel; this is on hold pending developments in the region and we also await a reply from the Histadrut.
  • We gave publicity to an IFJ campaign in support of kidnapped media workers in Yemen on social media.
  • I completed work on the new Translations Dashboard which is being used by our volunteer translators. It shows who is translating our campaigns, and prevents duplication of effort.

In other news … Continue reading

Thunderclap Results (or lack thereof)

by Derek Blackadder

The following is a section of my regular column (Webwork) in the Canadian labour magazine Our Times. Eric thought it might be of interest and so…

ON HIS WAY TO THE EDUCATION International World Congress in Ottawa in July, Iranian teachers’ union leader Esmail Abdi was arrested by the Iranian police; detained without charge; likely tortured; and almost certainly thinking about the fate of his predecessor, Farzad Kamangar, who was executed after a trial lasting seven minutes. Continue reading

Berlin conference on transnational campaigning by unions

I’ve just returned from a three-day visit to Berlin, where I was invited to represent LabourStart (together with Gisela) at a conference on transnational campaigning for trade unions organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).

bwiberlinOn the final day of the conference, the FES sponsored an event to commemorate the World Day for Decent Work, focussing on the various campaigns conducted by the ITUC and global unions on mega sport events, like the football World Cup and the Olympics.  Tos Anonuevo from BWI, the global union for construction workers, gave a major presentation, and one of his slides (pictured to the left) entitled “Generating support, creating alliances” featured LabourStart right in the center.

We were not in the center of the conference, however, but that didn’t mean that LabourStart didn’t come up again and again.  For example: Continue reading

LabourStart’s first-ever strategic retreat

On 18-20 September, about 25 LabourStart senior correspondents and translators, together with partners from the global union federations, met at the offices of the German national trade union centre in Brussels for our first-ever strategic retreat.

It was a meeting with few speeches and lots of discussion and resulted in a long action plan, including the creation of a very small Executive and a number of working groups.

The Executive members (pictured below) are Espen Løken, Andrew Casey, Kirill Buketov, Silvana Pennella, Eric Lee (editor), Gisela Neunhöffer, and Derek Blackadder.


More details to follow in the next few weeks.

Here are some other highlights of the last two weeks (in alphabetical order by subject) …

Bank: Our bank, the trade-union-owned Unity Trust, has changed its sort code. If you need to make transfers to our account, write to [email protected] and I’ll send you the new details.

Books: I have ordered, and will be distributing, 60 copies of our red book on online campaigning at the upcoming FES event on online campaigning in Berlin, early next month.


  • We launched a new campaign in support of workers in Kyrgyzstan, working together with IndustriAll.
  • Mulberry, the target of our current Turkey campaign, has written to everyone who sent a message laying out their side of the story. IndustriALL will be giving us a response.
  • We are in discussions with FIM, the musicians’ GUF, about a possible campaign in support of their affiliate in Cameroon.
  • We sent out a mass mailing in English to promote our victory in Aeroflot — and to encourage people to sign up to all our current campaigns.
  • Though not a formal campaign, we gave extensive publicity on the site and on social media to the death in custody of an Iranian trade union activist, Shahrokh Zamani.

Conference: Our Global Solidarity Conference will be held in Toronto in May 2016. More details coming soon.

Inside LS (this blog): I’ve tried to fix the automated mailings of new posts from here so that the subject line isn’t always “Breaking News” — we’ll know in a moment if that worked.

Mailing lists: We added 193 new subscribers this week, 245 last week, and 580 the week before that, for total of 1,018 — mostly to the English list.

Portuguese/Brazilian LS: We’ve gotten our Facebook and Twitter feeds going now. We also now have a ‘What is LS?’ page there in Portuguese.


  • The German national trade union centre DGB has a major article on LabourStart in their magazine, both the print and online versions.
  • I completed the text of an interview about LS for an Italian language magazine published in Luxemburg.
  • I was invited to speak at two meetings of Waltham Forest UNISON in North London, and publicized our campaigns, giving out our flyers to a few dozen members.
  • Several of us met in Brussels with the head of communications of the European Trade Union Confederation and discussed cooperation.

UnionBook: We’ve had to migrate control of the domain name ( from our previous provider, and managed to get this to work, though the site was offline for several hours. We’ve removed all references to LabourStart from its front page as we consider next steps for this social network.

Summer’s over – and LabourStart gets busy again

It’s not been much of summer here in London, but then again, it never is.

Here’s how we’ve spent the last 3 weeks:


We launched one in support of port workers in Gdansk, together with Solidarnosc and the ITF. As today, it has 7,045 supporters and appears in 14 languages, including Polish.

We also launched a new campaign in support of striking workers at the National Gallery in London, together with PSI and the PCS union in Britain. After just a week, the campaign has 6,140 supporters and appears in 9 languages.

We closed down the China campaign, launched in June. It had 10,373 supporters. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions told us that the campaign helped “to spread out the message and to draw attention to the imprisoned labour activists” and “although we did not hear any feedback from the Chinese government, there is one [piece of] legislation which was mentioned in this statement restricting the operation and international connection of NGOs in mainland was postponed.”

After closing the recent Hungary campaign, we receive this from the union: “Tamás Járási, president of MCDSz, thanks all those who supported this campaign. The company was upset by it, and told workers it was not a ‘true’ campaign but ‘only a spam driven from London’, and apparently complained to the Dutch ambassador about it. The union judged the campaign to be a success, and said it strengthened morale among the workers. Meanwhile, the struggle continues.”

We have been asked for help by a union in Congo and have passed this on to UNI, who are looking into it.

We’ve agreed to help BWI with a campaign in the Gulf region later this month.

An Iran solidarity group is keen to have us help with a particular prisoner; we’ve raised this with friends at Amnesty International.  It is not clear which GUF could be called upon to support this particular prisoner.

We had a request for a campaign from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, but have not heard anything back from them after we asked some questions.

We also had a request for a campaign from Zimbabwe that stalled, and we await answers.

Mailing lists

We’ve improved the layout of mailings to our English list to give readers the chance to sign up to campaigns they missed, to donate to LabourStart, and more.

There was an attempt to add over 100 fake addresses to one of our lists, but we spotted it and spent some time dealing with the problem. We’ll need to tighten up security on our campaigns form to prevent this happening in future.


We’ve resumed our partnership with unionized bookshop with a low-key publicity campaign for a ‘book of the month’. This has led to a bit of an overhaul of our state news pages, with the country news pages coming next. (See the US states to see what I mean, for example Kentucky.)

Our Global Labour Movements book is currently being translated into Burmese (by the ILO office in Burma), into Portuguese (by Euan, our correspondent in Brazil) and Canadian (well, a Canadian edition) by Derek. The book is already available in English and French.


Our events module wasn’t working on some pages (e.g., Canada, Portuguese) but is now, having been fixed.

Talks & other publicity

I have been invited to speak about LabourStart campaigns to UNISON Waltham Forest, in North London.

I will also be interviewed by an Italian-language magazine based in Luxemburg, about LabourStart, thanks to Silvana.


Andy has done the translation so that our next Android app will appear in French – in addition to the versions we have in English, Norwegian and Esperanto.

Global Solidarity Conference 2016

We’re still planning on this happening next spring in Toronto, and are waiting to confirm a final date.


A lot of work was done by myself and others to prepare for next week’s Strategic Retreat in Brussels. More here when the Retreat is over.

LabourStart in Numbers – Q3 2015

This quarterly report raises more questions than it answers, and here are some of them:

1. We’re showing the total number of downloads from Google’s Android store for the first time. As we can see, after some time, many users who downloaded an app cease to be active users, or delete it from their phones. What can we do to sustain our numbers and grow them?

2. Nearly all our mailing lists are either shrinking or static (Swedish is an artificial growth – imports from the English list). What can we do to grow our lists over time? (Short answer: get unions which request campaigns to promote them to their members and allies.)

3. Only 5 new correspondents added in the last 90 days — how can we bring in new ones, especially to replace those who become inactive over time?

4. Traffic to our news pages remains quite low, especially to the non-English ones. We have twice as many unique users of our campaigns as we have of news.  What can we do to drive traffic to our news site? Ads on Google and Facebook?

NEW: Android app downloads (totals)

First number is current, second number is total installs

English: 428 / 686
Norwegian: 33 / 31
Esperanto: 28 / 76

Total: 489 current installs

Mailing lists

English: 85,962 – 86,373
French: 8,299 – 8,276
German: 5,793 – 5,700
Spanish: 5,462 – 5,431
Italian: 3,998 – 4,039
Turkish: 3,755 – 3,650
Korean: 2,996 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,749 – 2,790
Russian: 2,384 – 2,408
Dutch: 1,775 – 1,743

Swedish: 1,239 – 387
Chinese: 1,103 – 1,103
Polish: 734 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Portuguese: 373 – 355
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 282 – 278
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Social networks

Twitter followers

English: 14,881 – 14,676
Canada English: 4,613 – 4,422
Canada French: 803 – 728
USA: 524 – 521
Indonesia: 341 – 292
Italian: 330 – 290
French: 225 – 224
Spanish: 76 – 76
German: 75 – 76
Japanese: 21 – 21
Russian: 19 – 19
Portuguese: 8 – 7


Like page (English): 10,078 – 9,893
Members of LabourStart group: 8,526 – 8,500
Like LabourStart page (French): 478 – 478
Like LabourStart page (German): 433 – 428
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 165 – 161
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 145 – 143


Members: 5,885 – 5,879


LabourStart group: 1,948 – 1,944


Union group on Flickr: 791 – 790


Correspondents: 789 – 784 (news)

Unique users – 18,711 – 24,170

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 27% – 28%
Canada 15% – 14%
UK 8% – 8%
Australia 6% – 8%
India 5% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 33,294 – 44,076
USA – English 14,883 – 13,854
Canada – English 6,543 – 6,791
Home page – Norwegian – 2,493
Australia – 2,234 – 2,673 (campaigns)

Unique users – 39,436 – 30,849

Top countries (by sessions):

Canada 19% – 23%
USA 15% – 15%
UK 15% – 12%
Germany 6% – 7%
Australia 5% – 4%

Most popular pages – page views:

Iran: Free Esmail Abdi now – 13,947
China: Stop police violence against workers fighting for their rights – 13,105
Turkey: Union busting at €1,000 hand bag producer SF Leather – 10,211
Malaysia: Stop union busting in SFI – 9,058
Poland: Stop sackings and union busting at port – 4,760