Category: Campaigns

Victory in Turkey

Today we closed our 3-month-old campaign in support of forestry workers in Turkey, launched at the request of BWI. The campaign had 6,736 supporters and appeared in 15 languages.  We have been thanked by BWI for our efforts, and sent this statement:

Turkey: Win for workers struggling to save the forests in Cerattepe

The mining project that risks destroying the forests, jobs and water for the people in the Artvin province in Turkey has been halted following a court decision. The local people and members of the union TARIM ORMAN-IS who have supported the struggle is celebrating a big victory after the Council of State in July rejected an expert report that claimed that they would be able to protect the environment while mining.

Since 2012, the Turkish company “Cengiz Holding” has tried to mine gold, silver and copper in “Cerattepe”, a small district of Artvin province in northern Turkey. Local people have been resisting the mining plans to protect the natural resources in their village with the support of various NGOs and political parties. The forestry workers’ union and BWI affiliate TARIM ORMAN-IS has supported the struggle in the area since the beginning of the resistance. More than 6600 people signed the online petition that the union initiated to protect workers’ rights and environment in Cerattepe.

In December 2014, 264 complainants, including lawyers, associations, political parties, Green Artvin Association and TARIM ORMAN-IS, opened a case against the Environmental Impact Report which claimed that there are effective methods to protect ecologic conditions while mining. In 2015, the local court rejected the report that favored mining activities. Following this, the company appealed the decision to the Council of State – the highest court of cases related to administrative law – and requested a new Environmental Impact Report. These reports are prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation to assess the environmental impacts in order to reinforce or prevent the implementation of such projects.

In July 2016, the Council of State finally approved the local court’s rejection of the first Environmental Impact Report which means that the project is halted. Unfortunately, the decision does not mean that the mining project is cancelled completely. As the company has a new Environmental Impact Report which supports the mining activities in the area, a new case was opened in June 2015 with 751 complainants for the rejection of the second report — the biggest environmental case in Turkey. Therefore, people are now waiting for the final decision for this ongoing court case and hope that this will also be ended with a verdict similar to the decision of the Council of State to block mining efforts in Cerattepe.

The struggle for workers’ rights and natural resources has gained strength and addition to the abovementioned decision, the pressure on forest workers in Cerattepe has also been removed with the help of support from all over the world. In this regard, TARIM ORMAN-IS, Green Artvin Association and the BWI would like to thank all supporters who signed the campaign and showed their solidarity.

The August slump — and how you can help us cope

school-closedAugust is a month when many our readers go on holiday; some unions maintain only skeletal staffs.  The only comparable time of year is Christmas, when many union headquarters simply shut down for a week or two. As a result, our campaigns launched at this time of year tend to do rather poorly.

Of our 7 current campaigns, none have more than 6,700 supporters.  We usually have at least one with 10,000 or more, but that’s not the case in summer.

The most recent campaign on Ecuador, where the government is trying to break the teachers’ union, is a case in point.  This would normally be quite a large campaign, and we would expect many members of teachers’ unions to be signing up.  But this is not the case.  (And teachers often do get a summer break, which may explain why many of them are not online to respond to the appeal.)

I’d like your help to promote this campaign — which is available in 13 languages — and to help bring it up from its current 5,104 supporters to a more respectable number.  How do we do this?  Here are some ideas:

  1. If you know anyone in the teachers’ union in your country or region, can you please write directly to them, sending a personal email encouraging them to get involved and sign up their members?
  2. Can you share the campaign’s URL – – in an email message to your trade union contacts, including those who are not teachers?  This is a major violation of workers rights and should be the concern of workers everywhere.
  3. If you have an account on Facebook, can you post that link, telling people that you supported this campaign and encouraging them to do the same?
  4. If you are fluent in a language which is NOT one of the 13 this campaign appears in, can you help us translate the campaign and mass mailing?  We are missing translations, for example, into Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Japanese, Arabic and Chinese and yet we have mailing lists in those languages, with thousands of names of trade unionists who would support this campaign if they only knew about it.
  5. Finally, can you print out the campaign page and a numbered list, and ask people at meetings if they would support the campaign?  If you get a list of people who support it, please send us their names and email addresses (ideally in a plain text file) and do indicate which language they speak, so we can add them to the correct mailing list.

Thanks very much!

We close our most popular campaign

Uktam Pardaev, fighter for human rights in Uzbekistan.
Uktam Pardaev, fighter for human rights in Uzbekistan.

Nearly four months after it was launched, yesterday we closed down our campaign in support of Uzbek human rights defender Uktam Pardaev.  The campaign, which ran in 15 languages, had the support of 10,474 trade unionists.  It was our largest current campaign and one of the rare ones to break the 10,000 mark.  We are currently waiting to hear what effect, if any, it had on the ground.

Meanwhile, our most popular current campaign is in support of UNI activist Orhan Akman who was deported from Peru.  That campaign is due to close in just a couple of days and has 7,632 supporters.  In a couple of weeks we’ll also be closing our campaign in support of forestry workers in Turkey, which currently has 6,676 supporters.

All the remaining campaigns have fewer supporters than these three.

So, how do we get campaigns to regularly have 10,000 or more supporters? Part of it has to do with the campaigns themselves.  Usually campaigns that focus on extreme violations of workers’ rights (such as the case of Pardaev in Uzbekistan) tend to attract more supporters than campaigns which focus on bread-and-butter issues such as disputes over collective bargaining and union recognition.  Nevertheless those campaigns, while not as popular, sometimes have a great effect on the ground.

While I was away …

Eric with Bernie and Larry.
LabourStart editor Eric Lee meeting Bernie Sanders and Larry Sanders in Philadelphia.

I spent the last couple of weeks in the United States, mostly attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, I managed to do a few LabourStart tasks:


Following the abortive military coup and the increase of repression, I contacted our comrades in Turkey as well as a couple of global union federations about a campaign. So far, there has not been any interest.

DISK did issue a statement, which we publicized widely. We’ve also given extensive publicity to statements issued by global unions about the situation in Turkey.

A request came in for another Turkey campaign, unrelated to the coup. However, it appears to be an internal union dispute, so we will not pursue this.

I followed up with the International Federation of Journalists, which has launched an online effort in support of Turkish journalists, and they are considering working with us on a campaign.

AFP campaign:

I sent out the campaign mailing in additional languages. I also added a link to the LabourRadio interview. I did a followup email to English list; the campaign had 4,289 supporters; the follow-up mailing went out to 74,008 people. As a result, the campaign now has 5,341, a gain of over 1,000 people. It remains, however, a small campaign.

SFI campaign:

At the request of BWI, we’ve launched another campaign in support of forestry workers in Malaysia. It has 3,367 supporters as of today and appears in 9 languages with more coming. Our mailing also promoted the IUF’s current campaign on India, which has received a boost due to our effort. I publicized this campaign on Facebook and Twitter and sent out mailings promoting it in a number of languages.

Uzbekistan campaign:

As three months have now passed, I’d asked for permission to close this down. It’s our largest current campaign with well over 10,000 supporters.


I offered LabourStart’s help with a Philadelphia airport workers campaign. The strike however was settled on the eve of the Democratic Convention.

I’ve informed the Workers Independent News Service that I’ll not be submitting additional “Working World” broadcasts as I did for several months this year.

Food workers in Turkey thank LabourStart for our recent campaign

The following is the text of an email message we received this week from Turkey.

Through your e-mail, we have been informed that campaign of the CP Chicken Workers has been completed and closed.

First of all, I would like to thank you and LabourStart family standing in solidarity with us. Although it had started much late than we suppose, we had a great opportunity to strengthen our struggle through this campaign. As you know, we are maintaining the struggle in the Labour Court and keeps on organizing workers at the company. In this sense, the campaign has also encouraged the fired workers who are still waiting for the result of Labour Court. Furthermore, with this campaign, we had an opportunity to discuss the struggle of CP workers with IUF. Now, we are working on a new international campaign at CP Chicken Company as well as reassembling our organizing campaigning. I would like to say that all these new steps have been sparked by the LabourStart campaign.

Your support and your solidarity always encourage us and strengthen our working class struggle in Turkey.

In Solidarity.
Comradely greetings.

Seyit Aslan
(Union of Food Industry Workers of Turkey)

LabourStart in Numbers – March-May 2016

Some highlights:

* Significant growth to the English and Turkish mailing lists.
* Slow growth on social networks except for the LabourStart Brasil Facebook presence, which grew by nearly 50% this quarter.
* 24 new correspondents – on average, 2 new ones per week.
* Significant growth in traffic to our news website with 10,000 more unique users than in the previous quarter.
* Our campaigns site also experienced significant growth, with nearly 38,000 unique visitors in this period.
* Downloads of our Android app have slowed dramatically, and fewer people are using it than in the past.

Mailing lists

English: 88,242 – 85,445
French: 8,791 – 8,438
German: 6,021 – 5,870
Spanish: 5,531 – 5,455
Turkish: 4,268 – 3,722
Italian: 4,044 – 4,029
Korean: 3,965 – 3,965
Norwegian: 2,701 – 2,736
Russian: 2,449 – 2,438
Dutch: 1,774 – 1,774

Swedish: 1,235 – 1,255
Chinese: 1,112 – 1,112
Polish: 798 – 798
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 518 – 518
Arabic: 478 – 450
Portuguese: 475 – 468
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 296 – 286
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Social networks

Twitter followers

English: 16,188 – 15,817
Canada English: 5,661 – 5,207
Canada French: 1,071 – 956
USA: 608 – 582
Italian: 458 – 448
Indonesia: 368 – 368
Swedish: 356 – 345
French: 225 – 226
Portuguese: 92 – 71
German: 91 – 90
Spanish: 73 – 74
Japanese: 22 – 22
Russian: 18 – 18


Like page (English): 10,528 – 10,319
Members of LabourStart group: 8,521 – 8,572
Friends of LabourStart Brasil: 1,681 – 1,198
Like LabourStart page (French): 535 – 500
Like LabourStart page (German): 472 – 462
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 175 – 168
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 155 – 151
Members of LabourStart Vostok [Russian]: 109 – 89


Members: 5,929 – 5,915


LabourStart group: 2,012 – 1,996


Union group on Flickr: 806 – 802


Correspondents: 826 – 802 (news)

Unique users – 41,506 – 31,026

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 23% – 25%
Canada 15% – 16%
UK 12% – 11%
Australia 5% – 5%
France – 4%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 34,337 – 37,618
USA – English 8,294 – 2,788
Canada – English 6,297 – 2,129
India – 3,853 – 1,098
Home page – Norwegian 2,746 – 2,309 (campaigns)

Unique users – 37,851 – 21,763

Top countries (by sessions):

UK 16% – 15%
USA 14% – 14%
Germany 7% – 10%
Canada 10% – 9%
France 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Uzbekistan: Defend human rights activist Uktam Pardaev – 12,011
Colombia: Free academic and unionist Miguel Ángel Beltrán – 10,780
Peru: Union organizer expelled – 8,497
Gambia: Justice for Sheriff Diba – 8,233
Turkey: Support the union members fighting to save the forests of Cerattepe – 4,939

Android app downloads (totals)

First number is current, second number is total installs. The numbers in brackets are from the previous quarter.

English: 370 / 795 [387 / 757]
Norwegian: 41 / 49 [38 / 48]
Esperanto: 25 / 105 [33 / 99]

Total: 436 [458] current installs

Our next book, new campaign, donations, and more


Work is being done on our book on migrant labour which we hope to launch in Toronto. We have a cover and the inside pages are nearly done.


I’ve asked the KCTU and HKCTU for permission to close down the Korea and China campaigns, both of which have been running for a long time.
A new campaign in support of Turkish union GIDA-IS is about to go live.
The campaign submission page has a new field for videos so these can be incorporated into future campaigns.
I did the monthly review of translations into our major languages and identified some problems, especially with German campaigns.


Weekly mailings to all correspondents continue. One focussed on the use of states and regions in news stories; the other encouraged the 90% who’ve been inactive to get active.


We received a large donation from a branch of Unite the Union in the UK. The Education International and UNI have also made substantial donations to us.


Mahesh pointed out a problem with tweeting a news story with a apostrophe in the title.


I have submitted weekly programmes to WINS on the terrorist attacks in Brussels and the new crackdown on independent unions in Egypt.


On Thursday, I’ll be speaking on a panel with a leader of Unite the Union and Amnesty International’s Shane Enright on corporate campaigning, in London.