2 new campaigns going live this week

We’ve been asked by IndustriALL to launch a campaign this week in support of a worker in Colombia who’s been treated exceptionally badly by his employer — to the point where he recently attempted suicide.  And the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in the USA has asked us to launch a campaign to pressure IKEA to play fair with its workers.  These campaigns are being rolled out step-by-step over the next few days, as I’m travelling all week, not back at my desk until Friday.

Opportunity, challenges for Indonesia’s vibrant labour movement – by Peter Moss

Pete Moss is a LabourStart correspondent based in Australia. He’s just returned from a visit to Indonesia.

indonesiaA week in Jakarta meeting union leaders and activists during August taught me two things.

Firstly, this is a period of great opportunity for the Indonesian labour movement to build strongly on gains made in recent years.

Secondly, any international support will be warmly welcomed, including from LabourStart, which is well known and respected among Indonesian unionists.

Unions have won massive gains over the past few years, including a national social security system that will deliver pensions and healthcare for all. The three major union confederations also came together in 2012 for a mighty campaign that delivered a 44 percent increase in the minimum wage. This year Indonesia successfully concluded elections that position the archipelago as the leading democracy in South East Asia. Continued economic growth in this resource-rich diverse nation of 250 million will position Indonesia as a global powerhouse.

The underlying conditions are very positive but inequality is also increasing. Unions face many battles to ensure that workers and their communities are fairly rewarded.
One challenge springs from the scattered structure of the labour movement, which at last count included six registered confederations, 91 federations and 437 enterprise unions. This vibrant movement has emerged only since 1998, when protests brought down the New Order regime and ILO conventions were ratified.
This year the movement divided over the July presidential election. Unions actively intervene in politics, but there is no united strategy and no social democratic or labour party.

Labour Start has a positive profile and universal recognition among the union leaders and labour activists I met.  Particularly appreciated are Labour Start’s Indonesia campaigns, including two for the IndustriALL-affiliated pulp and paper union so far in 2014.

One construction union general secretary pointed to a poster on his office wall and said: ‘When our leader was jailed, Labour Start supported him.’

Several local unionists are active Labour Start supporters, including Indah Budiarto, Nelson Saragih and Khamid Istakhori.  Indonesian unionists are keen to further enhance links with the international movement. Union training was cited as one area where assistance could make a real difference.

Peter Moss

Victory at Autogrill following LabourStart and IUF campaigns

Remember the campaign we launched in May at the LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in support of striking German workers at Autogrill?

5,930 people signed up to support, though it only appeared in English and German.

That campaign, called by the NGG union, has now resulted in a victory.  The IUF which supported our initial campaign and later ran its own version, is running this statement:

The German Food Workers Union (NGG) have announced a successful conclusion to their fight for a first-ever collective agreement at Autogrill Germany, where workers in Bavaria and Thuringia have been holding strikes since April. On September 9, Autogrill Germany announced it would be joining the national employer organization for the sector, which would bring Autogrill employees under the national collective agreement for the sector.  The NGG has warmly thanked the many thousands who supported the campaign.

Promoting FastMail as a more secure Gmail alternative – and earning commissions for LabourStart

FastMailWe earn a few dollars every time someone signs up to FastMail using this link: http://www.fastmail.fm/?STKI=7274533

I made the case here why I think people should do this anyway – If you care about your privacy and use Gmail, read this.

Here’s a short quote from that article:

Soon, we’ll have Google Glasses and driverless cars and countless other bits of hardware and software that turn our lives into an open book. And that’s a book which is open not to the security services of governments which we, in the end, elect, but to the data mining departments at faceless, privately-owned giant corporations which are accountable to no one.

One could withdraw from all this, close down accounts on Facebook and Twitter, get rid of that FitBit, and ditch the mobile phone which can pinpoint exactly where we are at any moment. Or one could take some simple steps that would radically improve one’s privacy without totally disconnecting from everything.

An easy one is Gmail.

Workshop Invitations Picking Up in Canada

In addition to doing a series of sessions for Unifor, the largest public sector union in Canada, we’ve also recently done a session on LabourStart itself at union conferences in Alberta and New Brunswick and just received an invitation to do a session on international work for the Halifax Labour Council in late October.

I don’t know quite why this surge in interest but I suspect it has something to do with some generational turnover in mid- and senior-level trade union leadership. The people now moving into those positions have kinda grown up with LabourStart.

In any case, so far we’ve been able to say yes to all the requests.

 

Derek Blackadder

LabourStart in Numbers – August 2014

This is a much-shortened version of the monthly report, as it’s already mid-September and due to my holiday, the report had to be delayed.  So this time, it’s just focussing on the 20 biggest mailing lists.  Growing lists are shown in green; shrinking lists are in red.  The previous month’s total is in brackets. The third number — in italics — is where we stood one year ago.

The following lists have gained 1,000 or more new subscribers (net) in the last 12 months: English, French, German, and Korean.  In the same period, the Polish list has nearly tripled in size, and the Indonesian list has more than doubled.

Mailing lists [with 200 or more subscribers]

English: 85,611 [85,191] 81,907
French: 8,188 [7,917] 6,443
German: 5,529 [5,376] 3,312
Spanish: 5,279 [5,234] 4,905
Italian: 4,124 [4,098] 4,017
Turkish: 3,454 [3,450] 3,283
Korean: 3,080 [3,080] 154
Norwegian: 2,853 [2,839] 2,433
Russian: 2,505 [2,514] 2,051
Dutch: 1,691 [1,378] 1,377
Chinese: 1,106 [1,106] 1,011
Polish: 734 [640] 282
Finnish: 684 [655] 577
Japanese: 483 [483] 334
Arabic: 463 [451] 313
Portuguese: 353  [353] 248
Indonesian: 338  [325] 153
Hebrew: 265 [248] 215
Tagalog: 254 [254] 254
Farsi: 242 [242] 207

Summer’s over — three campaigns in one week!

Luis Cardenas - beaten up for his trade union activity.
Luis Cardenas – beaten up for his trade union activity.

UNI has given us this campaign — we’re beginning publicity today.  It involves the defense of trade unionists facing physical violence for their union activities — always a top priority for us.

We’ve also been asked by BWI to help promote their new campaign supporting forestry workers in Malaysia.  We’ll get the word out about that today.

Finally, IndustriALL is likely to be asking us to do a campaign in support of a worker in Colombia who’s been engaged in a 13 year battle to get compensation after a workplace accident, and who recently attempted suicide.

Run, Kevin, run!

Snowdonia Marathon 2010

UPDATE – 10 September 2014: Following a mass mailing to the English list and publicity on social media yesterday, we’ve raised $1,194 (£741) from 43 donors — a good beginning.


 

For the first time ever, someone has suggested that they run a marathon on behalf of LabourStart — and what a marathon this is.  

Kevin Curran, former general secretary of the GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, who is currently chair of the central London hotel workers branch of Unite, is the runner.

And the race is the Snowdonia Marathon, held on 25 October, and is considered one of the most difficult races in the UK (it encircles the highest peak in England and Wales).

Click here to make your donation and spread the word:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/kevin

The month in review: August 2014

Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.
Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.

August was NOT a quiet month for LabourStart.

I guess the big news is that I have completed the move from our Tottenham Hale office to working at home. The office was finally emptied and the keys returned yesterday. This will not only mean a considerable savings (over £6,000 a year) but we will also get back a deposit of £1,470 soon.

That money will help to re-fill our coffers following several months where we spent considerably more than we took in, reducing our reserves by many thousands of pounds. But there’s been good news in the last few days. We were able to raise nearly $600 from UnionBook members to pay for the hosting on Ning for the next year — that’s the full amount we need. The IUF has once again made a substantial donation to us. Norwegian unions will apparently be transferring a good sum to us very soon. And the Geneva-based FDHT is resuming its donations to us conditional upon us continuing with the project to grow LabourStart in the Portuguese-speaking world (more on this soon).

It’s been a very busy month for our campaigns — we closed just one (Gaza, following the agreement to a cease-fire) and launched five new ones:

  • Palestine/Israel – against union-busting in Mishur Adumim
  • Swaziland – prime minister threatens to strangle trade union leaders
  • Belgium/Netherlands – against social dumping at IKEA
  • Poland – LOT sacks union leader
  • Thailand – Drop the charges against Andy Hall

In addition, I made three improvements to our campaigns – offering an alternative option for some cellphones; a new supporters count for closed campaigns; and a form for translators to submit campaigns. Details on all these appear in a post below.

We ran a promotion offering free versions of our Kindle books for the first 5 days of August. A total of 2,442 books were downloaded — the most popular of which was Dan Gallin’s Solidarity (696 copies). I followed up with over 1,500 people who seemed interested in the books, asking them to post reviews, but with very limited success.

In September, I’ll be helping to teach a course in Hattingen, Germany organized by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) together with the DGB. This should help introduce LabourStart to union communicators across Europe. This will be followed up in October by my session at a Brussels workshop of ETUI on campaigning. ETUI is also now considering a proposal to host a course dedicated to online campaigning which LabourStart would teach.