Category: Mobile

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.

Thunderclaps, social networks and how to grow a campaign

The last seven days at LabourStart …


SF Leather/Mulberry: I sent out a followup mailing to the 70,000+ people on the English list who didn’t open last week’s message. This added a considerable number of new supporters. The campaign is now up to 8,432 supporters. Due to the very low response to our first appeal in Turkish, we drafted an entirely new appeal and sent that out as well. Still, response rates in Turkey remain low, with just 131 supporters for the Turkish language version of the campaign (plus another 90 supporters of the English campaign from Turkey).  I have consulted our Turkish comrades and we are discussing why this is happening and what we can do about it.

Esmail Abdi: This remains our largest current campaign, with 12,252 messages sent so far. The Canadian teachers-initiated Thunderclap was successful in the sense that it reached over 330,000 people, but it generated very few new supporters for the campaign. This confirms previous experience with using Facebook and Twitter to promote campaigns — their impact is much less than you might think, and email remains a far more powerful tool. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use social networks — of course we should; in fact, we’re posting more content than ever before to Facebook, reaching a larger audience.

IUF SABMiller campaign: Following the company’s attempt to block messages, we did a mailing to encourage support this IUF campaign.

Translations: I’ve improved an online form I created some time ago which will make it easier and quicker to deal with submitted translations of campaigns (where the translators are unable to upload the campaigns themselves). We’ll start using this from the next campaign we get.

Mailing lists:

We continue to pick up many new subscribers due to the campaigns. A couple of days ago, I added 256 new subscribers — including 44 new ones for our Turkish language list.
We now have a Sinhalese list, but only one name on it for the moment.


Our Norwegian language app for Android is now available in the Google Play store.


We’ve had 3 large donations from Canadian unions in recent days.

Spring begins at LabourStart …

It was my intention to update the blog weekly, but that hasn’t happened for the last few weeks, so here are short reports on the first month of spring …


  • English: Andromo has made the fix we requested which will stop closed campaigns from showing in the app.  I need to test this fully the next time we close a campaign, which will be next week, and once I’m satisfied that this works, the new version of the app will go live in the Google Play store.
  • Norwegian: I did a lot of work on the Norwegian language Android app, which will serve as a model for our apps in other languages.  It’s very nearly done.


  • Even though the Rio Tinto campaign has been closed down, I’ve helped IndustriALL keep up the pressure by publicizing and participating in their recent protest in London at the Rio Tinto AGM.
  • The closed Turkish hospital campaign was reopened for a couple of weeks at Gisela’s request, as Ver.di was going to help publicize the campaign. Unfortunately, after a full week online, only 6 additional supporters have signed up to the campaign.
  • At the request of IndustriALL, I’ll let the Holcim campaign run for another few weeks.
  • PSI has helpfully offered to publicize the Swaziland campaign which we launched at the request of the ITUC on 24 March.  That campaign is growing slowly and has just 6,733 supporters today.


  • European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) course on online campaigning in June: This is a course we helped developed and run, and for the first time we’ve been given the green light to publicize it.  I’ve done this with emails and through social media, repeatedly, in the last few weeks.  LabourStart correspondents who are based in Europe should apply to attend.
  • I also publicized the Global Labour University course at their request.


  • We’ll do our annual fundraising appeal next week; I’ve sent around a request for thoughts to a few senior correspondents and will shortly be circulating a draft appeal.

Mailing list

  • This has been growing slowly as we’ve only had one new campaign in this period.  New campaign supporters continue to be added on a weekly basis.


  • I don’t normally report on this, but we should never forget how much work is being done every day by our volunteer correspondents.  So far in April (first 20 days), 65 of our 775 volunteer correspondents have posted 4,002 news stories to LabourStart — averaging 200 stories per day, or 61 per correspondent so far this month.  Leading the pack are some very active correspondents including Andrew Casey (809), Olivier Delbeke (718), Derek Blackadder (517), Roy Nitzberg (392) and Ginger Goodwin (203).


  • Europe: Thanks to Silvana’s initiative, I’ve now met with senior figures in the European Economic and Social Committee Workers’ Group, and have been invited to address the group — which consists of trade unionists from across Europe — in July.  Two EESC staffers are now LabourStart correspondents.
  • Italy: Silvana has done some excellent work reaching out to Italian trade unions – a more detailed report is coming soon.


  • We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for the LabourStart retreat in Brussels in September, working closely with ETUI on this.

Union Made

  • This is a possible new project we might help with – especially with publicity.  We’re working closely with the New Unionism Project on this.  More details soon.

Three campaigns, three publications, two surveys, one conference – week 2 of 2015 on LabourStart

2015 has gotten off to a brisk start.  Here’s my report on week 2:


  • We launched one in support of sacked hospital workers in Turkey — our first campaign of 2015.  It’s already had 9,348 supporters in the last seven days and is likely to pass 10,000 shortly, making it our largest currently active campaign.  The campaign appears in 18 languages, including Chinese for the first time in a very long time. PSI and EPSU added themselves as supporters after a few days. The campaign can be found here:
  • Today we’re launching another campaign in cooperation with IndustriALL, BWI and EFBWW, demanding that the merger of Holcim and Lafarge take workers’ rights into account.  That campaign is here:
  • I closed the WIPO campaign after 3 months and 6,254 messages sent, but have not yet heard back from the union; we don’t know what effect, if any, the campaign had.  It is unfortunate that sometimes our partners do this, and neglect to keep us and our supporters informed.


  • We’ve gotten some volunteers and some ideas for our (almost) annual survey of trade union use of the net.  More details next week.
  • I’ll soon be publishing a detailed report on the results of our survey of LabourStart correspondents.


  • A number of people have volunteered to help with our Global Labour Calendar for 2016.  People have stepped up with ideas on how to print it, to help add labour history content to it, and to translate it — well done! More details coming soon.
  • We’ve now exchanged contracts with Prof. Joe Atkins for The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Labor Movement, a collection of essays which we will publish at the very end of this year.
  • I’ve resumed work on getting out Global Crisis, Global Solidarity — our book of conference papers, long overdue.

Retreat 2015:

  • We’ve had some discussions about this; more details next week when I know them.


  • We now have a Swedish-language Twitter feed and Facebook page which we’ll publicize next week.
  • I had a full day with our senior correspondent in the Caribbean, Dave Smith, and we discussed a number of issues relating to LabourStart’s activities in that region.


  • Dave pointed out a problem with the display of regional news on the Android app which I will fix.
  • I have had an ongoing discussion with Como support about how the RSS feeds are displayed on our app.  A similar discussion with Andromo support led them to make a change in how they handle RSS feeds which should take effect soon.  Como and Andromo are two online tools we use (and pay for) to build our apps.

Tunis, apps, publications, survey, Italy, course, Brazil, and more – another week on LabourStart

I’ve decided to post weekly reports on what’s going on at LabourStart — please feel free to share these with colleagues and friends.  2015 is going to be one our busiest years ever — and here’s the first week …

Retreat – Tunis: We’re moving on this; I’ve sent the necessary letters regarding hotels and meeting space to our friends in the UGTT in Tunisia.  More on this next week.


We’re using two different app-building platforms each of which has drawbacks.  Como builds both for Android and iOS, but it handles RSS feeds badly (it takes two clicks, not one, to show a news story.)  I’ve written to them to get help on this.

Meanwhile, Andromo which is better (and has improved at my suggestion how they cache RSS feeds, because at the moment they show our closed campaigns) unfortunately only works in Android.  This is what is holding up the release of our iOS app (approved by the Apple store, but I’m not satisfied with how it works) and our apps in other languages.

Meanwhile, our Android app has been published in the Amazon store, so users of Amazon’s devices (Kindle, Firephone, etc) can use it; also, users of Blackberries can get their version of the app there.

Publications: We’ll probably begin work on the 2016 Global Labour Calendar this coming week.  Anyone who’s willing to help is invited to post comments below.  We’re also working on two books we’re committed to getting out this year — one on migrant workers, and one with papers and speeches from our Berlin conference last May (long delayed, I know).  (Thanks to Derek for helping on this.)

Survey of trade union use the net: I’ve suggested we consider doing this again; so far, three people have volunteered to help, so next week we’ll probably start work on this again.  (Thanks to Derek, David and Gerhard.)

Italian LabourStart: We now have a Twitter feed and and an email address, and a group of committed correspondents and translators.   The Italian mailing list is our fourth-largest with over 4,000 addresses, and we’re keen to grow it and to be more useful to the Italian unions.  (Thanks Silvana and Andrea.)

Guidelines for new correspondents: This has now been translated into Spanish.  (Thanks David).

Survey of LabourStart correspondents: I’ll make the results available in a few days, but one result is clear: most people do want a discussion forum.  I’ve looked into a couple of the better known options, but will be asking for volunteers to help with this project.  (Thanks to Gisela for doing the survey.)

Online campaigns course: I’ve begun planning for a meeting in Brussels later this month with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) which has agreed to hold a 3-day course in Germany for European trade unionists.

Brazil project: As you may know, we have received a grant to do some work building LabourStart in Brazil.  I’ve started writing to our contacts there.

LabourStart in Numbers: I’ve done the last monthly report; from now on, this will be done every quarter.



The month in review – December 2014

Next generation LabourStart

The number of users of our Android app in English, launched on 11 November, has grown to 587 (gained only 25 new users in December); the average reviewer gave it 4.88 stars. Our Android app in Esperanto, launched on 26 November, has been installed 17 times.

Our iOS app (for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) has just been approved by the Apple App store (we submitted it on 3 December at first) and will be launched in the next two days. This app was designed in Como, which we can use to create apps for both Android and iOS, and will do so.

We have received the translation for the Norwegian version of our apps and expect this go live shortly.

Tunis Retreat

We’ll have more to report on this throughout January.

A reminder was sent to all correspondents to respond to the pre-retreat survey; so far we’ve had 58 responses and will provide a full report soon.


We launched only two campaigns in December and closed one of them fairly quickly at the request of the union – these were the ones surrounding the jailing of Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros, and the other concerned Luis Isarra in Peru. The Peru campaign has generated only 5,634 messages of protest so far, while the Colombia campaign generated 7,450.

We closed three campaigns in December — Deva in Turkey, USA IKEA and the Colombia industrial accident campaign, which resulted in a big win.

At the moment, we are running only four active campaigns — and three of those will close within the next four weeks.

A trade union leader in Bangladesh has offered to translate our campaigns into Bengali; I have sent him the framework file to translate.

We launched our first Romanian language campaign, and mailing list.

Online campaigning course

The European Trade Union Institute has approved our proposal for a 3-day course on the subject of online campaigning, to be held in Germany in June. More details soon.


Our latest book, Dan Gallin’s Solidarity, is being translated into Russian by Masha.

I’ve signed a contract with Professor Joe Atkins for a LabourStart book due to appear at the end of 2015 about migrant workers. More details coming soon.


We received a generous donation from the Education International.

I wrote to all correspondents about the annual Svennsson prize which could be major boost to LabourStart if we ever win it.


We ran a mini-campaign to raise the issue of workers’ rights at Fairphone, which briefly got a lot of attention and a phone call from the company.


We learned (from Mahesh) that there was a problem with our code that allowed people to tweet any news story that appeared on LabourStart — if there was an apostrophe in the story title, it didn’t work. This has now been fixed.

I also fixed the drop down menu showing country names on the French language home page, and a couple of other small fixes to the page.

The month in review – November 2014

It’s been a very busy month for us at LabourStart, with progress made on several important fronts.

Next generation LabourStart

androidOur Android app was finally launched on 11 November, 19 days ago, and has over 550 active users at the moment. Nearly all the reviewers have given it five stars in the Google Play store, and all the written reviews have been positive. We’ve been answering comments and noting suggestions for improvement.

We have also launched (today) an Android app in Esperanto, and next week will launch the Norwegian version. We’ll be approaching translators for the major languages (French, German, etc) in the next few days.

We’ve purchased an annual subscription to use Como, which will allow us to quickly create apps for iOS as well as Android and we hope to have the iOS version of our app available soon.

If you’ve not yet downloaded the app for your Android phone, please do so today: English / Esperanto

Retreat in Tunis – 20-23 March 2015

The first 20 people have been invited to attend.

We’ve finalized a survey for all LabourStart correspondents. This should go out next week.

We held a Skype conference call with organizers from North America, Europe and Australia to discuss this.  And Eric and Gisela have had a couple of separate Skype calls as well to discuss.


stopwizzWe launched only one new campaign in November — in support of Wizz Air workers trying to have a trade union. After just four days it has 7,200 supporters and has already been translated into 14 languages.  If you’ve not yet done so, please sign up to the campaign and spread the word in your union.

We did a big second round of publicity for our Deva (Turkey) campaign, and have boosted it to more than 10,000 supporters.

We closed the following four campaigns (details in posts below): Thailand – Andy Hall, Poland – LOT, Netherlands/Belgium – IKEA, Israel/Palestine – Zarfati Garage.

We discussed doing a campaign in support of Palestinian public sector workers with PSI, but nothing came of it.

We supported the IUF campaign on McDonald’s Korea with a mass mailing.  With our help, that campaign is now up to 8,800 supporters.

We have been asked to help with campaigns in Georgia, Nepal and Iran — waiting for our partners at the moment.


Swedish: Espen and I visited Stockholm – see the full report below. There are now a number of recent Swedish language news stories on the site, and we continue discussions with Swedish unions.  All our campaigns and mailings are now being translated into Swedish.

Italian: We’ve revived our Italian language campaigns and mass mailings — after a gap of three months — and launched three of these in November.  We have around 30 volunteer translators at the moment, which is fantastic.

Finnish: One of our new correspondents in Finland has agreed to coordinate efforts there, so he’s been given the contact details for the other seven.

Esperanto: We’ve also resumed sending out mailings and translating campaigns in Esperanto after a long gap; our list there is now nearly 100 subscribers.

Radio Labour

We continue to work together. In addition to having a Radio Labour page in the app, we now feature the latest Radio Labour broadcast on our home page in English, just under the top news stories.

Today in Labour History

While the database in French is comprehensive, we’re still missing data in English for many days — can anyone help with this?

Starting in January, we’ll begin work on a printed 2016 calendar which we’ll want ready for sale by Labo(u)r Day in North America.

Online campaigning course

We’ve submitted a proposal to the European Trade Union Institute, at their request, for a 3-day course for European Trade Unionists which will take place some time in 2015. More details soon.

Our new app – a best-seller, almost

In the last three days, 83 people have started using our new Android app, and 6 of them have reviewed it — and all 6 reviews gave it five stars.

In the Google Play Store, our app ranks 21st on the list of “Top New Apps” for the category “News and Magazines”. 

I’ve not yet done the big publicity mailing, which should reach about 10 times as many people as the publicity so far, so with any luck, we could pick up another 830 new users as a result of this.  This would push us toward a goal of 1,000 users of the app as soon as possible.

Here is what I’d like you all to do:

  • If you’ve not yet downloaded the app, and you own an Android phone or device, please do so today.
  • If you’ve downloaded it but not yet posted a review, please do so.
  • If you’d be interested to help with translations of the app into other languages, please let me know.
  • If you have any skills with app development, especially for other platforms (e.g., Apple iOS), please contact me.


Written by Comments Off on Our new app – a best-seller, almost Posted in Mobile

The next generation of LabourStart is here – download it today!

If you have an Android phone or tablet, you’re invited to be among the first users of our new app, which you can download from the Google Play store:

After you’ve installed it, please try out all the features.

If something’s not working or can be improved, please email me ([email protected]).  Constructive criticism is most welcome!

If you’re happy with our app, please post a review to the Google Play store and give it a high rating.

And of course — please spread the word in your union!

(This is the English version of the app; versions in other languages coming out soon.)

Written by Comments Off on The next generation of LabourStart is here – download it today! Posted in Mobile

The month in review – October 2014

This report will be brief, but I hope I’ll be covering all the highlights of the month.

Next generation LabourStart: Our Android app is ready, and I’m making some final tweaks before submitting it to the Google Play store and elsewhere, and then publicizing it widely. I do think this is a huge step forward for us, we’ve gotten good feedback from those who’ve seen it, and mobile apps like this one are increasingly going to be our main platform.

2015 Retreat: We now have an organizing committee of 7 people, and have been putting together the basic elements. We’ll have a Skype conference call in November and will begin inviting people then.

Campaigns: We only launched two campaigns in October (as compared to 5 in September) — for the trade union at WIPO (5,813 supporters) and for workers at Zara in the USA (5,004 supporters). More campaigns are on the way, including another one from the ITF.  We gave a lot of help at the beginning of the month to IndustriALL, which was doing a Thunderclap on precarious work.

Fundraising: Some good news this month as the National Executive of Unison in the UK votes to give us £3,000 and the Norwegian union Industrie Energie votes to donate $5,000. In addition, Kevin Curran’s marathon run for us generated £1,202 (71 individual contributors).

Internationalization: We’re doing a lot of work to make sure the languages we campaign in and post news in stay alive, even when individuals who were doing the work drift away.  Big efforts were made to recruit new correspondents in Denmark and Finland this month with good results in the latter country.  Italian remains our biggest mailing list that is not getting regular mailings, so we appealed this week to our entire Italian list producing dozens of volunteer translators.