We’ve been asked by IndustriALL to launch a campaign this week in support of a worker in Colombia who’s been treated exceptionally badly by his employer — to the point where he recently attempted suicide. And the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in the USA has asked us to launch a campaign to pressure IKEA to play fair with its workers. These campaigns are being rolled out step-by-step over the next few days, as I’m travelling all week, not back at my desk until Friday.
Remember the campaign we launched in May at the LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in support of striking German workers at Autogrill?
5,930 people signed up to support, though it only appeared in English and German.
That campaign, called by the NGG union, has now resulted in a victory. The IUF which supported our initial campaign and later ran its own version, is running this statement:
The German Food Workers Union (NGG) have announced a successful conclusion to their fight for a first-ever collective agreement at Autogrill Germany, where workers in Bavaria and Thuringia have been holding strikes since April. On September 9, Autogrill Germany announced it would be joining the national employer organization for the sector, which would bring Autogrill employees under the national collective agreement for the sector. The NGG has warmly thanked the many thousands who supported the campaign.
Finally, IndustriALL is likely to be asking us to do a campaign in support of a worker in Colombia who’s been engaged in a 13 year battle to get compensation after a workplace accident, and who recently attempted suicide.
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.
Several people have complained that they were unable to fill in our campaigns on their mobile phones. We were not able to reproduce the problem, but as it kept coming up, we have to assume that certain phones under certain circumstances will have an issue. As a result, there’s now a fairly prominent link on the English campaigns to a page that according to 3 people who tested it, does work. All the campaigns in other languages use that same page, so no one should have issues other than English speakers, and it was fewer than 10 people reporting the problem.
A comrade at a British trade union pointed out that you can no longer see how many supporters we had for a campaign that’s been closed. This has now been fixed — see, for example, our recent Gaza campaign. If there’s no campaign total, there’s a link to click on to generate one, as needed.
Finally, I’ve long wanted to create a proper system for our volunteer translators to submit their campaign translations. Some of them — a minority — go directly into our system and add campaigns. But most still send on campaigns by email, often as attached Word documents. Some of the translators continue to translate too much — including bits of the interface that are already translated. Some try to embed photos or change fonts, when this is already part of the built-in interface. It’s not clear to some of the translators what’s optional (e.g., the default message to the target). And sometimes the translations come through and it’s not clear to me what’s what (especially in non-Latin character sets). That’s why I’ve introduced this. (Feel free to have a look, but do NOT submit a translation.)