Category: Publications

Week 4 of 2015: Deepening cooperation with the European Trade Union Institute

I’ve just come back from two days in Brussels where I had meetings at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and also with Silvio Gonzato, Director of Human Rights and Democracy at the European External Action Service.

ETUI will be holding a course which I proposed at the DGB (German national trade union centre) education center in Hattingen from 24-26 June 2015 which will focus primarily on LabourStart campaigns — and which will culminate in the live launch of an actual campaign. Invitations will go out in the next month or two.

Also ETUI has offered extensive cooperation with us in the holding of our 2015 Strategic Retreat — more details soon.  A big thanks to Silvana for all her help setting up these important meetings and deepening our cooperation with European trade union institutions.

In other news this week, we picked up nearly 300 new subscribers to our mailing lists. Our Lafarge Holcim campaign has now grown to over 8,000 messages; our Turkish health care workers campaign is one of our largest with 10,340 supporters; and we’ll shortly be closing our USA Zara campaign which only got 7,769 supporters in the three months it was online.

We’re making slow progress on publications — we have a Flickr group set up to receive candidate photos for our Global Labour Calendar; work continues on the migrant labour book; I’m waiting for some more documents before we can progress on our Global Crisis, Global Solidarity book.

We published links to an average of 193 news stories per day, every day in January so far, for a total of over 5,400 news stories.  74 of our correspondents have been active posting news in January — out of 763 correspondents.  In other words, over 90% of the correspondents did not post news in January.  Of those who did, 12 posted 100 or more stories.  If you’re reading this and are an inactive LabourStart correspondent and need help (don’t remember your password, or have forgotten how to add news), please don’t hesitate to write to me – [email protected].

Retreat postponed, campaign launched, work begins on our calendar – a review of week 3 of 2015

2015 Retreat: The Tunis retreat planned for March has been postponed. More details soon.

Campaigns

Holcim Lafarge: This campaign, launched last week, only had 5,000 supporters after the first 7 days, so I did a followup mailing to nearly 82,000 people on the English list who hadn’t yet signed up, according to MailChimp. As a result, we increased the number of supporters by more than a third, and are now just under 6,800. This number will rise as we get the campaign active in both German and Italian, two of our largest languages.

Istanbul Maltepe Hospital: This campaign is one of our largest, and now has just under 10,000 supporters, as we pick up another 700 this week.

Publications

Global Labour Calendar: A group of 7 of us have begun discussions of how to do this, focussing on how to print it, select the photos, and add the contents (labour history dates).

Global Crisis, Global Solidarity: I’m trying to move forward on publishing the papers presented at our 2014 conference, but we received very few of them and am now looking to find the workshop summaries which might give us more content.

Annual survey of trade union use of the net: I’ve written to our entire mailing list to try to get some help with volunteers to do this again.

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:

Campaigns:

  • 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: http://www.labourstart.org/go/maltepe
  • 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: http://www.labourstart.org/go/nomerger
  • 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.

Surveys:

  • 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.

Publications:

  • 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.

Internationalization:

  • 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.

Apps:

  • 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.

New Canadian Edition of Our Guide to Global Labour Coming

A couple of weeks ago I met with the International Development Working Group of the Canadian Labour Congress.  The senior staff doing international work from all the major unions (and a few smaller ones) form the Working Group.

There was unanimous agreement to move forward with producing, early in the new year, a ‘Canadianized’ version of the the book.  I’ll keep you posted as things develop but it seems to me that once a readability edit is done of the existing GUF and other global institutions sections and a couple of missing GUFs are added, all that will be needed to produce a series of national versions of the book are some pieces solicited from unions and central labour bodies.

My hope for the Canadian edition is that each union will commit to buy a certain number of copies for their internal use.

As a (useful) aside, I have been able to locate a unionized printer in Toronto that offers a ‘print-on-demand’ service with products certified as union-made.

Derek Blackadder – Canada

The month in review: September 2014

Things picked up in September even though August was hardly a quiet month for us.

Office: LabourStart is now firmly planted in Muswell Hill as I learn to once again work from home (with some days working in the British Library).

Finances: Our finances have improved a bit this month. We have received a substantial contribution from Fafo in Norway, from the FDHT in Geneva and also many individual donations raised on behalf of Kevin Curran’s marathon run for LabourStart in October ($1,894 so far from 67 contributors). The promotion of Fastmail as a Gmail alternative on 19 September has generated very little income for us. Unison’s National Executive is due to consider a proposal to make a donation to us this month.

Campaigns: We launched five new campaigns in September:

  • Canada: Nova Scotia labor law
  • Turkey: Union busting at Deva Holdings
  • Colombia: Ruben Montoya
  • USA: IKEA – play fair with workers
  • Colombia: Luis Cardenas / Prosegur

We have been able to announce a victory at Autogrill (Germany) and will soon be able to announce another from the Philippines at NXP. We closed the Swaziland campaign after hearing that the Prime Minister has decided not to strangle trade union leaders. I also closed campaigns in Turkey and Korea after three months; the unions have not gotten back to us with updates.

In addition to promoting our own campaigns, we have helped the following organizations with promotions of their campaigns which we do not host: Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Australian Council of Trade Unions, IUF, IndustriALL (Thunderclap) and BWI. Most other campaigning organizations will generally not do dedicated mailings to promote other organizations’ campaigns, but we do this regularly.

All our campaigns are now also in Swedish, and this is what now shows on the Swedish home page.

Books: Book sales are just under 5,700, which is very good, and some Amazon payments have started to come in. I continue to work on our next book, which consists of speeches given at the Berlin conference. Derek has been working on a Canadian edition of our Global Labour Movement book. And we’ve reached agreement with Joe Atkins to publish his collection of essays from activists around the world on migrant labour in late 2015.

LabourStart Offline:

  • I spent a couple of days at the DGB training centre in Hattingen, Germany doing a course on online campaigning with the European Trade Union Institute.
  • Derek has done some courses with Unifor in Canada.
  • In November, Espen and I will be in Stockholm meeting with Swedish trade unionists to discuss cooperation (which has already begun).
  • In early November, I’ll be in Vienna attending an OSCE conference, which I will cover for Equal Times, and have already written to LabourStart subscribers there suggesting a meeting.
  • The FES Media project in Africa has shown interest in cooperating with us and I had a 30 minute phone call with their staffer in Windhoek, Namibia about this.
  • Pete Moss, one of our Australian correspondents, visited Indonesia and wrote up a report – see below.

Retreat: We have begun some internal discussions about possibly hosting a LabourStart retreat in Tunis in March 2015. More details coming soon. We are trying out a new online tool called Trello to coordinate this.

Ello: Finally, LabourStart is probably the first labour movement institution with a page on Ello, the new social network.

For details on most of these, see the posts from throughout September on Inside LabourStart.

Book sales – approaching 6,000 …

I’ve just gone through the reports from CreateSpace and Amazon and am happy to report that in less than 22 months, LabourStart has distributed 5,651 books.

Of those, 2,442 were Kindle editions offered for free in August 2014 over the course of five days.

The rest — 3,209 — were sold.

Here is the breakdown by title:

Please spread the word in your union about our books — refer people to our Publications page:  http://www.labourstart.org/2013/publications.html

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.

Amazon reviews: an update

Sales of our four LabourStart books (both paperback and Kindle editions) depend in part on there being positive reviews on Amazon’s websites.  

Our recent effort to promote the book resulted in just five days in 2,442 downloads and hundreds of new readers.

But these have not generated new reviews, despite my mailing earlier this month to the 1,537 people who clicked on links in the previous mailing promoting the free Kindle edition — even though 830 of them opened that message and 88 clicked on the links to review the book on Amazon.

Despite that effort, the total number of reviews remains tiny.

Having checked Amazon’s 12 websites today (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, India and Japan) here are the total number of reviews:

  • Firefox OS – 8 reviews
  • Global Labour Movement – 6 reviews
  • Campaigning Online and Winning – 5 reviews
  • Solidarity – Dan Gallin – 4 reviews

The largest number of reviews appears on the amazon.com website (13 reviews), followed by UK (6 reviews), Canada (2), Germany (1), Spain (1).

No reviews of our books appeared on the Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Japan or Italy Amazon sites.

By comparison, a friend of mine recently self-published a little novella on Kindle.  His book has 27 reviews.  The reviews of all 4 of our books together is just 23.

If anyone has any good suggestions for how we can increase the numbers here, I’d love to hear them.

2,442 books downloaded as LabourStart free Kindle campaign ends

   

During the first five days of August, we allowed people to download all four of our Kindle titles free of charge.  The result was a total of 2,442 books downloaded in just 5 days.

Previously we’d sold somewhat more than 3,000 books over the last 20 months, so this was an 80% increase in distribution of our books.  Here they are in order of popularity — the number is copies downloaded in the last 5 days:

  • Solidarity – Dan Gallin 696
  • The Global Labour Movement 645
  • Campaigning Online and Winning 587
  • Firefox OS for Activists 514

Today I’ll be emailing everyone who I think downloaded books (based on what MailChimp has to say about clicking-through), and remind people that we’d really, really appreciate reviews on Amazon to keep sales going.

I’m convinced that using the free Kindle downloads feature is far more effective than simply saying we have some PDFs or Word documents available for download.  Kindle books are seen as real books by many people, they normally cost money, and this contributed, I think, to the excellent take-up of our offer.

I think the overall effect of this campaign is to remind people that LabourStart in addition to being a news and campaigning website, and the organizer of annual global solidarity conferences, is also a book publisher (and probably the only publisher of books exclusively for the international trade union movement).

And of course if people actually read the books, we’ll be contributing toward educating trade unionists about our campaigns, about the global labour movement in general, and more.

 

Top 3 Kindle bestsellers – all LabourStart books

In the first 24 hours of our free book giveaway on Amazon, over 1,300 copies of our books have been downloaded.

>>> Update: That number is now 2,053 books downloaded.

One result of that is that in the category Business / Economics in the Kindle Free store, all three of the top titles were ours — see this screenshot:

 

Screenshot 2014-08-02 at 11