I’ve been late with an update because of a family vacation, but here’s a brief update on the last 26 days at LabourStart. Continue reading
The last seven days at LabourStart …
SF Leather/Mulberry: I sent out a followup mailing to the 70,000+ people on the English list who didn’t open last week’s message. This added a considerable number of new supporters. The campaign is now up to 8,432 supporters. Due to the very low response to our first appeal in Turkish, we drafted an entirely new appeal and sent that out as well. Still, response rates in Turkey remain low, with just 131 supporters for the Turkish language version of the campaign (plus another 90 supporters of the English campaign from Turkey). I have consulted our Turkish comrades and we are discussing why this is happening and what we can do about it.
Esmail Abdi: This remains our largest current campaign, with 12,252 messages sent so far. The Canadian teachers-initiated Thunderclap was successful in the sense that it reached over 330,000 people, but it generated very few new supporters for the campaign. This confirms previous experience with using Facebook and Twitter to promote campaigns — their impact is much less than you might think, and email remains a far more powerful tool. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use social networks — of course we should; in fact, we’re posting more content than ever before to Facebook, reaching a larger audience.
IUF SABMiller campaign: Following the company’s attempt to block messages, we did a mailing to encourage support this IUF campaign.
Translations: I’ve improved an online form I created some time ago which will make it easier and quicker to deal with submitted translations of campaigns (where the translators are unable to upload the campaigns themselves). We’ll start using this from the next campaign we get.
We continue to pick up many new subscribers due to the campaigns. A couple of days ago, I added 256 new subscribers — including 44 new ones for our Turkish language list.
We now have a Sinhalese list, but only one name on it for the moment.
Our Norwegian language app for Android is now available in the Google Play store.
We’ve had 3 large donations from Canadian unions in recent days.
The China campaign now tops 10,000 messages sent and is our largest active campaign.
A followup mailing was sent to the English list, and this generated 1,600 new supporters from the 5,500 people who opened this message (but didn’t open the first one we sent). We should consider doing this for our other large language lists.
The Hindi version of this campaign went live this week.
I discussed the possibility of a LabourStart campaign in support of jailed journalists in Turkey with a former president of the National Union of Journalists (UK) — we’d want to do this as a campaign together with the European or International Federation of Journalists.
We’re still working to get the Portuguese interface working properly for adding news — nearly there. We also now have a transation of the welcome message for new correspondents. Euan has made contact with all our translators and correspondents in Brazil.
We now seem to have a working interface in Sinhalese for our campaigns and have just received the first translation of a campaign — I hope to go live with this very soon.
Books & other publications:
Derek and I have begun looking into printers for the 2016 calendar. Once we know we can do this, and afford this, we’ll begin the work on a photo competition.
With the agreement of my co-author, Jeremy Green, we’ll make our book Firefox OS for Activists, free on the Kindle. And maybe other books later as well.
I’m exploring the possibility of re-opening a LabourStart office in London; we’ve had an offer of (free) space. More details next week.
This week, I added 558 new subscribers to 16 mailing lists – 401 of them in English.
London Labour Film Festival:
Once again, we’ll be involved in supporting this and promoting it to our supporters in the UK. The festival will take place in the fall.
We received a generous donation from the PSEU, a union in Ireland.
I’ve written individually to half a dozen unions in the USA that we have worked with asking for donations.
We launched the China campaign at the request of the HKCTU early last week. It’s now been translated into 16 languages and has nearly 8,500 supporters, making it our second most popular campaign at the moment.
With the agreement of the ITF, we closed the Jimena Lopez campaign today.
We’ve begun efforts to grow LabourStart in Brazil, and are being helped by Euan Gibb who works for one of the unions there. Euan’s translated our news interface into Portuguese, as well as our China campaign and mailing. We had a long and detailed discussion about next steps.
We’re having problems with the Sinhalese interface for campaigns but hope to have this sorted in the next few days. We’re gotten the German interface for adding news working properly again, having converted it to Unicode.
This is taking place on Friday; I’ve prepared a “shopping list” of tech things we need done but I haven’t had the time or skill to do.
I’ve sent appeals to a number of US unions we have worked with in the recent past. Two Canadian unions made donations.
At the request of the editor, I submitted an article to International Union Rights on the investigation conducted by the Israeli Police into the campaign we did in support of Palestinian garage workers. I conducted an email interview with Assaf Adiv of WAC Maan to do this.
Global Solidarity Conference 2016:
We have a date and a venue, which I hope to announce in the next day or two.
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has given us a campaign which will go live in the next day or two.
We’ve been in touch with a group that works to support Iranian political prisoners.
I did a followup mailing to build support for our current Iran campaign after it turned out that two of the prisoners have been released on bail.
Our campaigns interface has now been translated into Sinhala, a language spoken by about 16 million people.
We helped BWI with their FIFA/Qatar Thunderclap, boosting it substantially.
The link to show more campaigns on the Swedish campaign page was broken; I have now fixed it.
Our Berlin group now has access to add campaigns directly to our database.
I have begun fixing the redirect when you key in the URLs for languages like this: http://www.labourstart.org/no — they now go to the ‘news’ directory rather than the ‘2013’ directory, part of a long-term project to migrate everything over.
Small changes made to the Norwegian home page, at Espen’s request.
We’ve had a problem with the German interface to add news; I’ll be helping Gisela to sort this out.
We have a new search engine which I’ll deploy next week; it was set up in response to a request from a Canadian academic doing research on lockouts and works better than our current one.
On 12 June we’ve been invited to participate in this event, mentioned earlier (see my post from 14 May). I’ve done a short ‘shopping list’ of some of the many tech things we need help on. If any of you have any suggestions or things to add to that list, please let me know.
Books & Publications:
I’ll resume work on the 2016 Global Labour Calendar next week after a few months of inactivity.
20 copies of Dan Gallin’s Solidarity have been ordered for sale at Northern College in the UK this summer.
I’ll prepare a detailed report on sales in recent months in an upcoming report.
We’ve had another donation from a Norwegian union, and PSI has pledged £3,090.
I’ve begun contacting US unions one by one to get their support for the next year.
Our donations page is now translated in Spanish, and we did a mailing to our Spanish list (but with very poor results).
The British TUC has asked us to look into making our newswires secure (using SSL) so we’ve ordered this from our ISP. This will allow the newswire to appear again on some popular TUC sites, such as unionreps.org.uk.
We picked up 123 new subscribers this week, and 928 last week.
New campaigns launched: We’re launching two new campaigns today — one in defense of jailed trade union activists in Iran, the other in support of workers in Hungary dealing with a union-busting Austrian multinational.
Online campaigning course: There are just 11 days left to register for the ETUI / LabourStart course on online campaigning – for European trade unionists only. Details are here.
LabourStart campaign subject of police investigation: Asaf Adiv of the Workers Advice Center in Israel reports that a police complaint was filed regarding our campaign in support of Palestinian workers at the Zarfaty garage. Asaf writes:
The Israeli Police are finding it difficult to deal with Ethiopian immigrants who demonstrate in Tel Aviv against their discrimination, but yesterday they found the time to interrogate me on charges that I was responsible for the LabourStart email campaign last summer to support the struggle of Palestinian workers in the Zarfaty Garage. The complaint of the Garage owner to the police against me as the leader of WAC MAAN union that organizes the workers, came after their previous complaint against the chair of the workers committee in the Garage Hatem Abuzeadeh was canceled and proved to be fake. On May 12 WAC MAAN and Hatem’s lawyers will be in court to fight to reinstate the leader of the workers to his job in the last 17 years.
LabourStart correspondent arrested: One of our correspondents, Sergei Ilcenko, has apparently been arrested by the KGB (yes, the KGB) of Transnistria, back in March. We’re trying to get more information about this and there may be a need for a campaign.
Survey of correspondents: At the beginning of the year we did a survey of LabourStart correspondents (most of the work done, I think, by Gisela). Martina has now done a full report of what we learned, available to download in English or German.
Correspondents: I did a mailing yesterday to all our correspondents to encourage them to get active. As a result, we had a 25% increase in the number of correspondents active in May, and several wrote to me asking for their passwords, or promising to get more active.
Annual survey of trade union use of the net: We missed the one in 2014, but are ready to go with a new version, probably later this week.
Fundraising: We raised a few hundred dollars more this week, and two global union federations promised to repeat their donations from 2014, which could amount to another £5,000.
May Day in Berlin: Here’s a report from Martina — this should help explain the cookies, above:
“How many people worldwide are in LabourStart’s mailing list?” That was one of the questions from our wheel of fortune at our LabourStart stall in Berlin. The right answer: about 130,000. The share of Germans is 5,000. One more reason to become active in Germany and promote LabourStarts unique digital platform for the international trade union movement and workers’ solidarity.
We had a busy and nice day at our stall. We’ve talked to a lot of people about LabourStart, offered our nice self-made cookies. The wheel of fortune was always running and gave us a good opportunity to explain what LabourStart is about and that online campaigns make a difference in organising union power internationally. Those we could convince to join LabourStart mailing list were able to register online at our stall.
Reiner Hoffmann (DGB General Secretary) visited our LabourStart stall, too. There he met and had a chat with volunteers from LabourStart Network Berlin and some students of the Global Labour University.
Thanks to Heiko (DGB Berlin) for his amazing support. Thanks to the bakers. Thanks to all visitors at the stall.
First of all, happy May Day to all of you.
Second, here’s a report on the last 10 days activity on LabourStart:
Much of our work in the last week has focussed on fundraising. Our mailing went out in English (twice) and Czech, Danish, Esperanto, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish. Thanks so much to all our volunteer translators, and to several of you for helping me to draft the text of the appeal.
The total amount raised in the first week is £2,602 (PayPal); £25 (cheque); and £5 (bank transfer) – for a total of £2,632.
We’ve had no new campaigns recently, though we’ve been approached now by unions in Hungary to launch one, and in China – to support an existing one. We’ve finally closed down the Turkish hospital campaign, which had been reopened at the request of our German comrades.
Other than that, much of the time has been spent working on our upcoming retreat, on a research project that some of you will be involved in, and a possible joint project with the New Unionism Network. More on all that soon.
It was my intention to update the blog weekly, but that hasn’t happened for the last few weeks, so here are short reports on the first month of spring …
- English: Andromo has made the fix we requested which will stop closed campaigns from showing in the app. I need to test this fully the next time we close a campaign, which will be next week, and once I’m satisfied that this works, the new version of the app will go live in the Google Play store.
- Norwegian: I did a lot of work on the Norwegian language Android app, which will serve as a model for our apps in other languages. It’s very nearly done.
- Even though the Rio Tinto campaign has been closed down, I’ve helped IndustriALL keep up the pressure by publicizing and participating in their recent protest in London at the Rio Tinto AGM.
- The closed Turkish hospital campaign was reopened for a couple of weeks at Gisela’s request, as Ver.di was going to help publicize the campaign. Unfortunately, after a full week online, only 6 additional supporters have signed up to the campaign.
- At the request of IndustriALL, I’ll let the Holcim campaign run for another few weeks.
- PSI has helpfully offered to publicize the Swaziland campaign which we launched at the request of the ITUC on 24 March. That campaign is growing slowly and has just 6,733 supporters today.
- European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) course on online campaigning in June: This is a course we helped developed and run, and for the first time we’ve been given the green light to publicize it. I’ve done this with emails and through social media, repeatedly, in the last few weeks. LabourStart correspondents who are based in Europe should apply to attend.
- I also publicized the Global Labour University course at their request.
- We’ll do our annual fundraising appeal next week; I’ve sent around a request for thoughts to a few senior correspondents and will shortly be circulating a draft appeal.
- This has been growing slowly as we’ve only had one new campaign in this period. New campaign supporters continue to be added on a weekly basis.
- I don’t normally report on this, but we should never forget how much work is being done every day by our volunteer correspondents. So far in April (first 20 days), 65 of our 775 volunteer correspondents have posted 4,002 news stories to LabourStart — averaging 200 stories per day, or 61 per correspondent so far this month. Leading the pack are some very active correspondents including Andrew Casey (809), Olivier Delbeke (718), Derek Blackadder (517), Roy Nitzberg (392) and Ginger Goodwin (203).
- Europe: Thanks to Silvana’s initiative, I’ve now met with senior figures in the European Economic and Social Committee Workers’ Group, and have been invited to address the group — which consists of trade unionists from across Europe — in July. Two EESC staffers are now LabourStart correspondents.
- Italy: Silvana has done some excellent work reaching out to Italian trade unions – a more detailed report is coming soon.
- We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for the LabourStart retreat in Brussels in September, working closely with ETUI on this.
- This is a possible new project we might help with – especially with publicity. We’re working closely with the New Unionism Project on this. More details soon.
Sorry for the delay in getting this report out, but I spent a full week away from London doing research for my upcoming book. Nevertheless, it’s been a busy 20 days — and for want of a better idea, here are the main stories in alphabetical order:
Campaign initiatives: We’ve asked BWI about possibly supporting striking forestry workers in Gabon; Andy passed this one on and we’re waiting to hear back. We asked the ITF if there’s any Iranian campaigns coming up, as some comrades in the UK have been keen to get us involved in that issue again. We approached Unite in the UK to try to get a campaign going in support of their effort to block the docking in the UK of a ship named for a Nazi war criminal; Shell eventually backed down and there was no need for a campaign.
Donations: We’ve gotten substantial commitments from unions in Norway and Canada; thanks very much to Derek and Espen for making the push. We received a generous donation from IndustriALL.
Greece: We did a mass mailing several languages in support of the German trade union leaders’ appeal. Several thousand people responded but many had difficulties both with the language (much of the appeal was not translated from the German) and the software, which was unreliable. Nevertheless, our effort was appreciated and thanks to Andrea, Silvana, Gisela and the comrades in Berlin for encouraging us to do this.
Mailing lists: We picked up a fairly large number of new subscribers to our English list thanks to the Rio Tinto campaign, and we now have 86,705 subscribers to that list. The French list, our second largest, is up to 8,224. In the last year, the English list has had a net gain of about 1,500 and the French one has gained 800.
New correspondents: Among new correspondents we’ve added recently is a Norwegian trade unionist based in Palestine; I hope this will help improve our coverage of Palestinian trade union news.
Right to strike: We were asked by a Canadian union to do a special mailing to support their campaign on the right to strike, and did so yesterday. We’ve also been providing news coverage of actions around the world.
Rio Tinto campaign: We launched this two weeks ago and had an immediate reaction from the company. Working together with our partners in IndustriALL and two NGOs, we’ve sent the company a very short letter in response. More details coming soon. At the moment, the campaign has 8,822 supporters and appears in 12 languages.
Support for existing GUF campaigns: We publicized both a BWI and IUF campaign in a recent mailing. The IUF campaign focusses on Sheraton and highlights the struggle in Addis Ababa — the local union leader there will be familiar to some of you as he attended our conference in Berlin last May; we have been passing on details of their fight to the IUF and are delighted to have helped support them.
Next generation LabourStart
The number of users of our Android app in English, launched on 11 November, has grown to 587 (gained only 25 new users in December); the average reviewer gave it 4.88 stars. Our Android app in Esperanto, launched on 26 November, has been installed 17 times.
Our iOS app (for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) has just been approved by the Apple App store (we submitted it on 3 December at first) and will be launched in the next two days. This app was designed in Como, which we can use to create apps for both Android and iOS, and will do so.
We have received the translation for the Norwegian version of our apps and expect this go live shortly.
We’ll have more to report on this throughout January.
A reminder was sent to all correspondents to respond to the pre-retreat survey; so far we’ve had 58 responses and will provide a full report soon.
We launched only two campaigns in December and closed one of them fairly quickly at the request of the union – these were the ones surrounding the jailing of Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros, and the other concerned Luis Isarra in Peru. The Peru campaign has generated only 5,634 messages of protest so far, while the Colombia campaign generated 7,450.
We closed three campaigns in December — Deva in Turkey, USA IKEA and the Colombia industrial accident campaign, which resulted in a big win.
At the moment, we are running only four active campaigns — and three of those will close within the next four weeks.
A trade union leader in Bangladesh has offered to translate our campaigns into Bengali; I have sent him the framework file to translate.
We launched our first Romanian language campaign, and mailing list.
Online campaigning course
The European Trade Union Institute has approved our proposal for a 3-day course on the subject of online campaigning, to be held in Germany in June. More details soon.
Our latest book, Dan Gallin’s Solidarity, is being translated into Russian by Masha.
I’ve signed a contract with Professor Joe Atkins for a LabourStart book due to appear at the end of 2015 about migrant workers. More details coming soon.
We received a generous donation from the Education International.
I wrote to all correspondents about the annual Svennsson prize which could be major boost to LabourStart if we ever win it.
We ran a mini-campaign to raise the issue of workers’ rights at Fairphone, which briefly got a lot of attention and a phone call from the company.
We learned (from Mahesh) that there was a problem with our code that allowed people to tweet any news story that appeared on LabourStart — if there was an apostrophe in the story title, it didn’t work. This has now been fixed.
I also fixed the drop down menu showing country names on the French language home page, and a couple of other small fixes to the page.