New campaign launched in support of Turkish clothing workers

It’s been two-and-a-half weeks since I last updated this blog, so, apologies for that. It’s been a busy time — keep reading …

We launched a major new campaign in support of workers in Turkey who are being sacked for joining a trade union by a German clothing business, Roy Robson. After less than a week online, the campaign appears in 15 languages and has 5,853 supporters. One of our German supporters received an interesting reply from the company, which he shared with us — and which we shared with IndustriALL, whose campaign this is. Meanwhile, the company has attempted to block our messages, but we retain the option of a petition version, which we will deliver to them, even if they’re not letting individual messages through by email. We publicised on social media the fact that they were trying to block us.

The Georgia campaign which we launched just three weeks ago continues to grow. It’s now up to 5,983 supporters in 19 languages. Over 400 of those supporters were responding to the Georgian language version of the campaign. We re-discovered a problem with this campaign and have noted to avoid it in future: sometimes, when the default message text is long, we need to break it up into shorter paragraphs, otherwise some servers reject this and we get error messages.

We also had a problem with some translations of campaigns not reaching us through the usual online form. We dealt with this by storing the translations on the server as well as sending them by email, so they are not lost. This appears to now work and we have not missed any translations since then.

We heard from the Georgian union which asked us to run the previous campaign (Rustavi Azot). Here is what they reported to us: “During the entire year 2017, the company conducted a very strong pressure against the trade union organization using various means. In fact, it was a fierce battle waged against local leaders and unfortunately, they could not resist. The company destroyed the trade union, but plenty of dedicated people still remain there and, in the future, they will restart the struggle and restore the organization. The international support received through the LabourStart was of huge help to our members. When you are supported by an army of people of more than 7,000 people, this is a very big incentive and motivation. Thanks to all of you, thanks to LabourStart, thanks to IndustriALL Global Union.

We’re continuing efforts to revive dormant languages, with some success. We sent out our first mailing to our Finnish list in several years, now that we have volunteer translators again for that language. We’re currently trying to get a volunteer translator for Thai. And we’re continuing with Japanese, Swedish and other languages that we had not been using for some time.

Next month is the Labor Notes conference in Chicago, at which LabourStart will have a stall. Derek Blackadder is coordinating our effort there. This is an important event, which will have well over 2,000 participants. We’ve shipped over copies of our most recent book (on organising migrant workers), have prepared a special flyer and website, and are arranging for the ILO to ship over copies of their new book on improving trade union communications which includes a positive reference to LabourStart.

We continue to try to recruit new subscribers to the mailing lists — this is now a regular weekly effort and includes reminders on social media, as well as the occasional pop-up window on our website.

Our mailing lists continue to grow. In the last couple of weeks we added 485 addresses of campaign supporters. Most of these are added to our new Georgian language list.

We’re going to continue with regular (probably monthly) “explainers” — mailings to our list with 500 word articles by local experts. The first one was by Derek on the split in the Canadian trade unions. For our second one, we’re hoping for a US writer (we’ve already approached one) to explain the Janus case before the Supreme Court.

We’ve had a request for RSS versions of our US state newswires, so we’re working on that. We already have this in JavaScript format, but RSS works better for some.

Finally, in the UK, we’re being given an award this coming weekend by the Ron Todd Foundation. Ron Todd was the general secretary of the TGWU, a forerunner of today’s Unite the Union. We invited UK supporters of LabourStart to attend the event at the Marx Memorial Library in London.


New campaign launched in support of Georgian unions – and in the Georgian language too

We launched a new campaign last week in support of the Georgian trade union movement which is fighting for a better labour law. For the first time, we are running the campaign in the Georgian language as well.  (See the screenshot on the left.)

The campaign is already live in seven languages with more to come, and has over 3,700 supporters.

We also closed the earlier Georgian campaign in support of metal workers there. Launched in November, it had 7,373 supporters and appeared in 18 languages – but not Georgian. We haven’t yet heard back from the local union on what effect it may have had.

Thanks to our new volunteer translators, we are running the Email Abdi (Iran) campaign in Japanese and Polish. It will be great to get those languages going again as we already have substantial mailing lists. We hope to also have campaigns live in Thai thanks to a new volunteer. And next week, we’ll begin the effort to revive our Arabic language campaigns as well.

Many more correspondents are now active following an appeal we sent out recently, our first direct message to our correspondents in a long time. We had 57 active correspondents this month, up from just 40 a couple of weeks ago.

We’ve heard from a group of our activists in Australia who have promised to recruit new correspondents and to try to do some of the work which Andrew Casey has done all these years.

To try to encourage people to join up to our English-language mailing list, we posted to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and added a pop-up advert on the country news pages. This has generated very few new subscribers.

Our Russian language Twitter feed is being revived – thanks to Kirill. And our French language feed is no longer protected and we’ll be seeking volunteers to help Andy with this. We were also able to gain control over the Australian LabourStart Twitter account which Andrew had set up and run, and have asked our local correspondents there to take this over.

We’re getting ready to participate in the Labor Notes conference in Chicago in April and have prepared a leaflet which we will be distributing there. We also have an advert in the conference programme and a team of volunteers which Derek is organising. We’ll have a table to distribute our publications, and to sign people up to our campaigns. This is a very important conference, with thousands of attendees, and is a great opportunity to introduce LabourStart to a North American audience.

Finally, we’ve won another award in the UK but I cannot reveal any details until it is made public in the next few days.


Hello, Sweden, Finland and Poland. We’d like to introduce ourselves …

Turning the map of Europe red.

Reviving dormant languages: As you may recall, we’re going to devote time each week to reinvigorating editions of LabourStart that have become dormant in recent years. Our first three weeks in 2018 we have focussed on Swedish, Finnish and — from this morning — Polish. The results are excellent so far: 4 campaigns already live in Swedish and Finnish for the first time in a long time, 2 mailings already done and two more on the way, and 13 new volunteer translators in Sweden and Finland.

Esmail Abdi: Our new campaign in support of the jailed Iranian teacher trade unionist, launched last week, had 3,500 supporters six days ago — and is now up to over 5,800. This morning I wrote to over 71,000 people who were sent our mailing last week in English but who have not yet responded. This should lead to some more growth. We also updated our English list this week with reports about the victory in Fiji, the continuing crisis in Algeria and the IUF’s campaign against Coca-Cola in Indonesia.

Strengthening our display of country news: It was pointed out to us that in the Norwegian edition, if you looked for news from Fiji, you’d see nothing because there had been no news stories in Norwegian. We were asked to automatically include English news stories in the Norwegian country news pages, and have now done so. If your language is in that category — i.e., nearly everyone in your country reads English — we can fix this for you too.

We gave a lot of publicity on social media to the IFJ’s annual report on the killing of journalists, the calls on the ILO to do something about Fiji and the giant metal workers strike set to happen in Turkey.

Our mailing lists continue to grow. This week, we added 334 new subscribers to 11 of our lists.

We continue to get a number of individual donations and we should never forget the generosity of many trade unionists who give money every month to LabourStart. In January, these small donors contributed GBP 913.87.


Esmail Abdi is NOT free, he’s now back in Evin prison – and we launch a new campaign

Bad news: Esmail Abdi (pictured left) was free, but he is now back in Evin Prison. We launched a new LabourStart campaign three days ago at the request of the Education International, and within about 24 hours we had over 3,500 messages of protest sent to Iran.  Many more will go out in the next few days.

Meanwhile, our Fiji campaign which we just launched has come to an end – with a victory for the workers and an end to the lockout. Just under 8,000 people signed up to support that campaign, which was online for about one month and was translated into 19 languages — three of those translations were done after the campaign closed.

We added 51 new subscribers to our mailing lists, many of them in Arabic (due to the Algeria campaign which has over 9,300 supporters and still growing)..

We’ve done a lot of work to revive LabourStart in languages where we’ve not been active in recent years. The first two are Swedish and Finnish, and we’ve found more than 10 new translators and you’ll begin seeing the fruits of their work in the next few days. We have 1,886 subscribers on our Swedish and Finnish mailing lists, so it’s important to keep those people — and new ones we recruit — involved in our campaigns and receiving our mailings.

We add one new correspondent in Canada. We closed an old, inactive Canada-only campaign.  And do all the other, usual stuff, like backing up our files, answering correspondence, raising money, and so on.


Esmail Abdi is free, a new campaign is launched, and we add 550 new supporters to our mailing lists

Good news: Jailed Iranian teacher trade unionist Esmail Abdi (pictured) was released from jail. We publicised this to our mailing list and on social media.

We launched a new campaign in support of locked-out airport workers in Fiji.  As of today, it already has 7,753 supporters.

We closed our Belarus campaign after five months, our Indonesia campaign after three months and our Cambodia campaign which had temporarily been revived at the request of our partners.

We supported the struggle of Tim Horton’s workers in Canada with a number of special mass mailings, as well as using social media and our Events system to promote real-world actions in support of those workers.

We continue our discussion with comrades in Taiwan about supporting their struggle on labour law issues with a LabourStart campaign.

Our mailing lists continue to grow. We added 550 more subscribers so far this month, many of them to our Arabic list. We are also now beginning to add the names of our supporters’ trade unions to the mailing lists for the first time, which will allow us to create segments based on this.

We’re going to make all LabourStart’s 30+ languages this year come alive. Each week, we’ll focus on a different one. The first one is Swedish, where despite having a mailing list of over 1,200 names, we haven’t posted a translation of a campaign for more than a year, and the news page is dormant. We’ve taken a number of steps to deal with this problem, reaching out to hundreds of Swedish trade unionists for help.

We’re publicising our main news stories almost evert day on social media — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — as well as on our home page and through our Labour Newswires in RSS and JavaScript format. In the last couple of weeks this has included the story of an attempt to crush an independent trade union in Russia, an Argentinian government effort to encourage teachers to leave their union, the massive German metal workers strike, calls for a national strike in Fiji, and the case of Reza Shahabi, a jailed Iranian trade unionist

Derek is making a big effort to clean up our “Today in Labour History” database which is huge, but under-utilised.

And finally we’ve cleaned our our Events file, keeping only current and future events there, and are encouraging people reading this to add events from your country to LabourStart (if you don’t know how, please ask).


New year, new campaigns

New campaign in Fiji.

We begin the new year with a strong showing for our latest campaign.

Our new Algeria campaign has grown quickly in the last week, picking up over 2,200 new supporters and appearing in 8 more languages (for a total of 13). It is our largest current campaign with 7,617 supporters.

We have new email addresses to work with and so today we’ll be able to re-launch the Fiji campaign which started last month.

We also closed down the Colombia campaign (in support of Carlos E. Castañeda Ravelo) after three months and 7,760 supporters, and are still waiting to hear from PSI what the results were.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.

This report is the first in 19 days. This is due to my being on vacation for most of that time.

December has not been an especially quiet period for LabourStart.

Our Campaigns:

The Algeria campaign, supported by the IUF, IndustriALL, PSI and the ITUC was launched on 18 December in the run-up to the Christmas holiday, so we expected a lower take-up than usual. Nevertheless, it has already gotten 5,360 supporters, appears in 5 languages, and there are a number of translations waiting to be posted (which we hope to get online later today).

In addition we are in the process of launching a Fiji campaign at the request of the ITF, but are waiting for good target email addresses before launching a full publicity effort.

At the request of the Clean Clothes Campaign, we re-opened the Chung Fai campaign.

Earlier in the month, we discovered problems in our campaigns with long messages which were causing bounces, so we have needed to break these up into shorter paragraphs.

Other organisations’ campaigns:

We helped Amnesty International promote their campaign in support of jailed Iranian trade unionist Esmail Abdi, who has been the focus of more than one LabourStart campaign. That campaign had just 1,648 supporters when we started our publicity, and we helped to double that within one day.

New translators:

We have a new translator for our Dutch campaigns, and will be getting help on Polish and Arabic in the new year.

Mailing lists:

We’ve experienced significant growth this month, adding 632 new addresses to our lists.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Mailing list |

LabourStart in Numbers – December 2017

This is the first report in six months – sorry for the delay. The next report will come out in three months.

Some highlights:

* Our mailing are growing smaller; this happens when we use them a lot, and MailChimp deletes subscribers whose email addresses are no longer valid. The only way to get around this is to recruit new people to our lists, which we are doing, but not fast enough. The only list to show significant growth was Ukrainian, which nearly doubled in size.

* We’ve had slow growth on Facebook, except for our Turkish and UK pages, which have grown spectacularly, as well as our LabourStart TV Facebook page.

* On Twitter, we’ve seen good growth for main English global feed, and massive growth thanks to the efforts of Derek and Roy, to the USA feed, which has nearly tripled in size.

* Traffic to the websites is growing. We had about 56,000 unique visitors to the news site, and the same to the campaigns site, in the last six months. The main sources of traffic continue to be the USA, Canada, and the UK.

In the list below, the first number is the current total, the second one is our previous total.

Mailing lists

English: 84,753 – 86,489
French: 8,993 – 9,051
German: 6,279 – 6,274
Spanish: 5,509 – 5,525
Turkish: 4,217 – 4,262
Italian: 3,871 – 3,947
Korean: 3,773 – 3,995
Norwegian: 2,709 – 2,755
Russian: 2,580 – 2,579
Dutch: 1,667 – 1,696
Swedish: 1,243 – 1,243
Chinese: 1,074 – 1,086
Portuguese: 877 – 869
Polish: 798 – 798
Finnish: 643 – 643
Arabic: 495 – 496
Japanese: 494 – 493
Indonesian: 392 – 335
Hebrew: 276 – 279
Ukrainian: 268 – 142
Farsi: 232 – 232
Tagalog: 225 – 227
Esperanto: 169 – 172
Hungarian: 158 – 164
Danish: 97 – 100
Czech: 79 – 82
Thai: 67 – 67
Greek: 58 – 58
Romanian: 41 – 41
Hindi: 37 – 37
Vietnamese: 25 – 25
Slovakian: 20 – 20
Bulgarian: 18 – 18
Creole: 12 – 12
Sinhalese: 1 – 1


Like page (English): 12,379 – 12,208
Members of LabourStart group (Global Labour News and Information): 8,874 – 8,797
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 2,506 – 230
Like LabourStart UK page: 2,037 – 516
Like LabourStart page (French): 578 – 564
Like LabourStart page (German): 496 – 491
LabourStart TV – 401
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 163 – 158
Members of LabourStart Vostok (Russian): 117 – 108
Friends of LabourStart Brasil: [could not update this time]


English: 18,488 – 17,678
Canada English: 7,745 – 6,953
Australia: 2,653
USA: 1,898 – 677
Canada French: 1,872 – 1,780
Italian: 538 – 524
Swedish: 370 – 372
Indonesia: 360 – 367
Portuguese: 278 – 253
French: 230 – 230
German: 92 – 94
Spanish: 70 – 69
Japanese: 21 – 21
Russian: 19 – 19
Norwegian: 19
Turkish: 16
Dutch: 12
Arabic: 8

Website traffic (1 June – 30 November 2017) (news)

Unique users 55,884 – 35,345

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 21% – 22%
Canada 16% – 15%
UK 12% – 11%
Australia 5% – 5%
India 5% – 8%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 48,545 – 26,088
USA – English 20,156 – 7,655
Canada – English 8,527 – 5,146
India 5,175 – 4,710
UK – 3,465 (campaigns)

Unique users 56,231 – 33,249

Top countries (by sessions):

UK 14% – 14%
Canada 12% – 9%
USA 12% – 14%
Indonesia 7%
Germany 6% – 7%

Most popular pages – page views:

The number in brackets is the total number of those who have signed up to support the campaign.

Indonesia: 4,220 striking miners fired – 23,380 [14,714]
Colombia: Drop sanctions against trade union leader – 11,723 [7,703]
Cambodia: Support abandoned workers in their struggle for lost wages and benefits 8,214 [8,465]
Indonesia: Every child must go to school – ICTSI must stop targeting union members – 7,012 [7,291]
Libya: End campaign of intimidation against Nermin Al-Sharif – 6,795 [6,857]

Linked In

LabourStart group: 2,042 – 2,051


Union group on Flickr: 829 – 827


Correspondents: 873 – 864


Big victory in Libya campaign

As I will be travelling from 13-24 December, this will probably be the last update to Inside LabourStart before Christmas. I’d like to wish all of you a merry Christmas and happy Chanukkah.

The big news this week is that our campaign helped force the Libyan government to return Nermin’s passport and to apologise to her. This is a big win for us and the ITF, and the ITF has acknowledged this in their statement. We have begun informing all of our mailing lists about this victory. (Unlike other organisations, we don’t use every victory — or even every mailing — as an excuse to fundraise. Sometimes, you just want to share good news, full stop.)

While we didn’t launch any new LabourStart campaigns this week, we did do a mailing to promote the IUF’s current Iran campaign, as well as promoting that on social media. As we often get complaints (a handful each time) when we do this — why am I getting this mailing twice? why am I being asked to support a campaign that I already signed up to? — I included a sentence this time explaining that this is an IUF campaign, not a LabourStart one, and we cannot know who has supported it, and so on. As a result, we got only one complaint letter this time.

I have also begun including in our mailings, again, links to Tweet and post these messages to Facebook, as well as a special link to forward messages. If people just use their email clients to forward messages, as many do, they are forwarding messages that include a unique unsubscribe link, which anyone receiving the message can click on, and sometimes do. When that happens, the original recipient will usually receive a message from MailChimp telling them that they’ve been unsubscribed — and they sometimes write to ask us why this happened.

We — and the IUF — were having issues with some of our campaign messages being bounced; we have now learned why (our default messages were sometimes too long) and this has now been fixed, and we are monitoring this more closely now.

Finally, as I wrote last week, we’ve now formally nominated our candidates to receive the Svensson prize next year.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Libya campaign grows – but not fast enough

Nermin campaign: This is now up to 6,736 supporters and is in 15 languages. This is a gain of nearly 2,000 in the last week, in part due to a second mass mailing to the nearly 73,000 people who did not open the first message we sent. We can do this in languages other than English if translators are willing to help. Support for the campaign is still lower than we would have hoped, and the previous three campaigns all have more supporters than this one.

It seems that there has been a problem with long messages in our campaigns, which recently may have been causing some bounces. This is now fixed, we think.

Our mailing lists continue to grow; this week we added 164 new subscribers, most of them to the English list, but a significant number to the German as well.

Every day we share a number of stories on social media, and highlight one major one which gets publicised across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This week, those highlighted stories included a blog on gender-based violence within trade unions, a ban on strikes in Colombia, the announcement by South Africa’s new national trade union centre SAFTU that it was on course to have 1,000,000 members by the end of the year, Indian tea workers who demonstrated at the same time as there was a big UN conference in Geneva about business and human rights, and Friedrich Engels’ birthday.

We’re almost ready with a leaflet for the new year, just waiting on some photos.

Svensson prize: we’ve had a discussion about who LabourStart might recommend for next year’s prize, and this week we’ll inform the organisers.

Our next book is the second volume of Dan Gallin’s writings. We made progress this week, but are a bit stuck with some low-quality PDFs which need to be converted to text. Anyone who has ideas about how to do this, or is willing to help, please make contact. Meanwhile, one full chapter has now been formatted correctly.

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