Category: Fund-raising

What a week! Police investigate, a correspondent is arrested, new campaigns and solidarity cookies

cookies

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.

stall

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.

May Day 2015: Focus on fundraising for LabourStart

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.

Spring begins at LabourStart …

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 …

Apps

  • 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.

Campaigns

  • 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.

Courses

  • 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.

Fundraising

  • 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.

Mailing list

  • 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.

News

  • 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).

Outreach

  • 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.

Retreat

  • We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for the LabourStart retreat in Brussels in September, working closely with ETUI on this.

Union Made

  • 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.

The last 20 days

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.

The month in review – December 2014

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.

Tunis Retreat

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.

Campaigns

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.

Books

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.

Finances

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.

Fairphone

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.

Tweaks

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.

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.

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.

Run, Kevin, run!

Snowdonia Marathon 2010

UPDATE – 10 September 2014: Following a mass mailing to the English list and publicity on social media yesterday, we’ve raised $1,194 (£741) from 43 donors — a good beginning.


 

For the first time ever, someone has suggested that they run a marathon on behalf of LabourStart — and what a marathon this is.  

Kevin Curran, former general secretary of the GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, who is currently chair of the central London hotel workers branch of Unite, is the runner.

And the race is the Snowdonia Marathon, held on 25 October, and is considered one of the most difficult races in the UK (it encircles the highest peak in England and Wales).

Click here to make your donation and spread the word:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/kevin

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.

The last 3 weeks in review: 8-29 July 2014

Summer is NOT a quiet time at LabourStart …

Campaigns:

  • We launched our Gaza Ceasefire campaign on 22 July; it is already our second largest active campaign.
  • We launched a campaign in defense of jailed Iranian trade unionist Reza Shahabi on 10 July.
  • The Ecuador campaign was closed after 3 months.
  • I’ve followed up with the translators for our top 15 languages, trying to make sure that as many campaigns as possible appear in as many languages as possible.
  • We did very well with the recent Turkish Georg Fischer campaign and promoted news of our victory to our list, as did with the victory at LATAM in South America.  That’s two victories this month that we contributed to.
  • Using a voucher we had from Google for some free advertising, we ran ads supporting out Polish LIDL campaign; they were seen by nearly 24,000 people, but only 103 clicked on the link.

Fund-raising:

  • We received a generous donation from Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) and from the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).
  • We’ve had an offer from a well-known comrade to run a Marathon in Wales in October to raise funds for LS; more details soon.

Events:

  • Our under-utilized Events module just got better — now you can tag an event not only by country, but by state/province as well. You can see the results by checking out our UK/England news page.

News:

  • People noticed that visiting our home page took you to a URL that included ‘2013’. This has now been fixed and instead of ‘2013’ it says ‘news’. Most people will not have noticed.

Office:

  • I’ve been given warning that we’re to be kicked out of our offices very soon. I visited possible alternatives in Finsbury Park, Bethnal Green and Muswell Hill. I’m leaning towards working from home for a few months, which will save us several thousand pounds.

Speeches:

  • LS has been invited to provide a speaker for a Unifor event in Canada.  Derek will probably do it.
  • Eric has also been invited by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) to help teach a course in Germany in September.

New contacts:

  • A comrade from a group in France called ReACT came to our offices for a meeting; we discussed many ways of cooperating.
  • I had a long meeting in London with the Morocco-based representative of the Solidarity Center; we discussed among other things the possibility of a correspondents’ meeting in the region, maybe in Tunis.
  • I followed up with all those who attended the IndustriALL communicators event last month in Italy, at which I spoke, and invited them to cooperate. Two replied, and we picked up a new correspondent in Cambodia as a result.

 

Books:

  • I’ve been encouraging comrades to post reviews of the Dan Gallin book on Amazon; some have already done so.
  • Even though book sales haven’t been amazing, for the first two months of our current financial year (June-July), book sales have made up about 10% of LabourStart’s income, though this is unlikely to continue.
  • I’ve begun adding reviews to the Gallin book to our page promoting the book — so far, only two.
  • I wrote to everyone who requested a review copy (PDF) and asked them to let me know when their reviews appear.
  • Thanks to Matt Heaney, the book is now on sale at ver.di’s bookshop, both off- and online.
  • I wrote to all 130 people who spoke at our Berlin conference reminding them that we want all their texts for our next book by the end of July.

Photo of the day:

  • For those who post these photos (mostly Derek) there’s now an explanation of how to post country-specific ones. If anyone wants to do this, email me and I’ll explain how it’s done.
  • The photo of the day is also now available on our mobile edition for the first time.

Enough for now … and now back to work …