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.

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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

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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 Canada@LabourStart.org

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Indonesia, Canada get new LabourStart campaigns – and moving toward 10,000 supporters

Indonesia campaign: We launched a campaign in support of Indonesian dockworkers together with the ITF. Initially take-up was quite slow, but the campaign is now up to speed and growing quickly. For the first time in many months, I include in the mailing a link to show readers which campaigns they have not yet supported. This should lead to more signatories to the existing campaigns, none of which have broken through the 10,000 barrier yet.

Canada campaign: We launched a campaign at the request of a group of unions at Toronto’s Pearson airport. At the moment this is a Canada-only campaign, but we may globalise in the next few days.

Egypt campaign: We did a followup mailing today to the more than 70,000 people who didn’t open the previous message; this is now standard operating procedure for us for all campaigns a week or so after we launch them. It would be useful to do something similar for the non-English campaigns as well, particularly for our larger lists.

Colombia campaign: As with Egypt, a mailing went out last week to the people on the English list who don’t seem to have opened the earlier message. This added about 1,200 new supporters to the campaign.

Cambodia campaign: This is our largest current campaign — by far — with over 8,200 messages sent. It appears in an unprecedented 18 languages. We are due to close it in about three weeks — but it would be great to see if we could raise the numbers here to 10,000 in the remaining days.

Mailing lists: Thanks to our newest campaigns we added 538 new subscribers to the lists. We had a problem with the Indonesian list, which was boosted by some 6,000 new subscribers earlier this year. It seems that many of these may not be valid addresses, no doubt added by enthusiastic supporters, and MailChimp is demanding that these addresses all be re-certified.

Outgoing mail: As we are now sending most messages directly from the 1&1 server, we’ve run into the problem that some spam blockers reject these messages. I’ve made a formal support request to 1&1 to sort this out.

Books: Work has begun on a second volume of Dan Gallin’s writings. We still need to sort out payments from Amazon and its CreateSpace subsidiary which remain problematic.

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David Eden, 1953-2017

David Eden, who was responsible for all of LabourStart’s translations into Spanish for many years, helping to grow our mailing list and raise our profile in Spanish speaking countries, passed away on 18 July this year.  

Some of you will have met David at the LabourStart conference in Washington, D.C. in 2009, where he was an active participant and chaired one of the sessions.

David was a lifelong democratic socialist, a member of Kibbutz Yasur and a founder of the Peace Now movement in Israel.  I first met him the early 1980s and we worked together both at the Givat Haviva educational institute and in the United Workers Party (Mapam).  David moved to the United States in 1996 where he continued to support the causes of peace and social justice both in Israel and the US.

He was a good friend and a good man, and will be sorely missed.

The LabourStart family extends its condolences to his wife Elka and his family.

May his memory be blessed.

Eric Lee

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“Whatever it takes. Whatever you need. We are with you.”

Deliveroo worker and union leader – victimised for helping to organise workers.

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.

Solidarity forever!

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Nominations for the 2017 Arthur Svensson Prize are now open

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.”

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Meet our new interns

Meet John and Eda.

Meet John and Eda.

LabourStart has hired two new interns.  I asked them to say a few words about themselves.

Edanur Yazici:

“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.”

John Millington:

“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.”

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LabourStart joins forces with Italian labour radio station

cgilRadioArticolo1 is an online radio station of the Italian national trade union centre CGIL.  According to the Wikipedia article, CGIL with its 5.5 million members is “the biggest trade union in Europe“.  That’s debatable, but it’s certainly one of the important ones, and one we’ve worked with before on campaigns, especially with their metal workers union.

Thanks to the efforts of our comrades Silvana and Andrea, RadioArticolo1 is keen to have a regular LabourStart program, and they’re starting with an interview with me.  Once it goes live, I’ll share the link — the program will be in Italian — and let’s hope this strengthens our work in Italy and our relationship with CGIL and the Italian labour movement.

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Subdomains – a useful shortcut?

LabourStart has five working subdomains – we used to have more, but our internet hosting company screwed these up, so I’ve rebuilt some of the essential ones.

As you can see from the list below, we can use these to point to our global editions in a particular language (e.g., Esperanto), or to a particular country (e.g., the UK), or a country in a specific language (e.g., Brazilian news in Portuguese). Here they are:

Would it be useful to create more of these?  They need to be done one at a time, but they could be useful especially when creating offline materials (these are shorter addresses to remember).

So for example, do we want no.labourstart.org in addition to http://www.labourstart.org/news/index.php?langcode=no ?

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