Category: Campaigns

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.

Once again, the UN system fails on workers’ rights

moncefFor the second time in the last 13 months, we’ve been asked to launch a LabourStart campaign in defense of workers’ rights in a UN agency — this time at the World Intellectual , Property Organization (WIPO), where Moncef Kateb (pictured), the head of the staff union has been sacked because … he was a troublemaker.

Last time this happened, we helped persuade the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to change his mind and eventually agree to recognize and negotiate with his staff union.  (See the campaign – which attracted over 14,500 supporters – here.)

Please sign up to this campaign and help us spread the word.  Thanks.

Big victory following LabourStart campaign at NXP in the Philippines

A big victory followed an international campaign, including LabourStart’s ActNOW appeal.

Remember this campaign?  (“Philippines: Stop union-busting at NXP Semiconductors”).

It generated 8,500 messages of protest, 885 Facebook likes, 61 Tweets and appeared in 13 languages.

And this week we learned that we have won — a big victory for the workers.  

Full details are here.

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.

Another campaign targetting union busting in Turkey

Petrol-Is: Host of the 2011 LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Istanbul.

We’ve been asked by IndustriALL to launch this new campaign targetting union-busting in Turkey.

The union being busted is Petrol-Is, the energy workers’ union which hosted the 2011 LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Istanbul.

Petrol-Is were very helpful and generous towards us when we needed them; now it’s time to show them how supportive we can be when they need help.

2 new campaigns going live this week

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.

Victory at Autogrill following LabourStart and IUF campaigns

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.

Summer’s over — three campaigns in one week!

Luis Cardenas - beaten up for his trade union activity.
Luis Cardenas – beaten up for his trade union activity.

UNI has given us this campaign — we’re beginning publicity today.  It involves the defense of trade unionists facing physical violence for their union activities — always a top priority for us.

We’ve also been asked by BWI to help promote their new campaign supporting forestry workers in Malaysia.  We’ll get the word out about that today.

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.

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.