Category: 2014 conference

The weeks in review – 17-28 March

Technical innovations: This week we made two technical steps forward. The first is a web app for smartphones and tablets that’s now been tested on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry smartphones and seems to work. The second is our own URL shortening system (like tinyurl.com or bit.ly) that allows us to create addresses like www.labourstart.org/go/peru.

Berlin conference: The number of registrations continues to grow — we’re now up to 494, up 46 in the last 11 days. The number of German participants (crucial if the conference is to be a success) is up to 103, a gain of 12 in this period. We’re currently working on sending visa invitation letters to several dozen registrants who requested it, sorting out solidarity housing for those who can’t afford the hotel or hostel, building the nearly 50 workshops that are planned, getting speakers for all 3 plenaries, organizing the Saturday night party, raising the money to do all this, and much more. The organizing committee in Berlin is growing and meeting regularly. There’s an international Skype conference call each week that Eric, Tom, Gisela and Derek have been holding as well. We have less than 8 weeks to go …

Campaigns: We haven’t launched any new campaigns in the last couple of weeks, but our Casablanca campaign is going quite well and we think we’ll get one of the five sacked call centre workers to come to speak in Berlin. We had a big surge in supporters for our Rana Plaza campaign yesterday after announcing that a couple of companies had agreed to pay compensation. We promoted — for the first time — our new social media links on the campaign page, and this has generated a number of Facebook likes (1,187) and Tweets (185) for that campaign. Not surprisingly, the links to promote campaigns on Google+ and LinkedIn are proving far less popular. We closed our Kazakhstan campaign a few days ago as well (see report by Kirill below).

News: A couple of weeks ago we had only 76 active correspondents (out of some 700); following my appeal to them to get more active, we now have 99 active ones, who have posted 5,003 news stories in March — an average of 179 news stories every day this month, with each correspondent contributing an average of 51 stories, or nearly two per day. The most active correspondents in March were (in order): Derek Blackadder (Canada), Andrew Casey (Australia), Andy Funnell (France), Roy Nitzberg (USA), Patrick Craven (South Africa), S. G??bi?ski (Poland), Efraim Davidi (Israel), and our intern, Tom Harris (UK).

Prizes and competitions: LabourStart has been entered into three international competitions the results of which we will know within a month. See below for details.

The week in review – 8-17 March 2014

Berlin conference: We’re up to 448 registered participants from 68 countries, a gain of 28 in the last 10 days. (We now have 91 from Germany, a gain of 7.) We’re all working on a wide range of issues now, including the conference party on Saturday night, plenary speakers for all 3 plenary sessions, getting visa invitation letters, getting all the workshops set up, and much more. There’ll even be a conference poster!

Campaigns: We launched one new campaign in the last 10 days in support of call center workers in Casablanca; it’s done very well and after just four days, is already larger than the three previous campaigns. With just under 7,000 messages sent already, it looks poised to be our 4th largest current campaign (out of 10) sometime soon.

News: I’ve written to nearly 600 LabourStart correspondents today asking for their help to put more news up. Of the more than 700 correspondents we have, only 76 have posted news so far this month. A number have already written back promising to post news, or asking for new passwords. There’s now a big yellow ‘Add news’ button on the home page in English — this allows correspondents to quickly add news, for new people to volunteer to be correspondents, and for one-off submissions of news.

New languages: We’re just about to do our first campaign in Hungarian.

Books: Our next book (by Dan Gallin) will be ready for sale at the conference in May. We did a lot of work last week formatting it. It’s currently running at 423 pages, but we might shorten that.

Labour History: I’ve fixed the entry form so it’s now working correctly and we can add more dates to our online calendar. There’s now a list of French language entries in the database.

The weeks in review – 21 Feburary – 7 March 2014

Berlin conference:  The list of participants continues to grow — two weeks ago we had 352 registrants from 58 countries; today that’s 420 from 68 countries.  The number coming from Germany is now 84, up from 77.  The team in Berlin is doing a fantastic job, meeting regularly and building up a solid programme of workshops and plenaries.  We’ve now begun weekly Skype conference calls involving myself, Derek and Gisela and this will continue in the run-up to the event.  We are doing a monthly mailing to all those who registered and in last week’s mailing we made a special appeal for people to volunteer as interpreters.  Our volunteer translators have begun translating the conference website into Spanish (as well as English and German), and the registration form now works in 8 languages.  And we now have a donations page in German (in the hope that our raised profile in the German labour movement may help generate donations).  The ITUC has agreed to promote our conference in their next mailing to delegates to their upcoming world congress in Berlin.

Campaigns:  We launched four new campaigns in the last two weeks after a period of relative calm.  Here they are (with the current number of supporters in brackets): Korea [7,178], Bangladesh [4,007], Peru [838], and Canada [508].  The last of these is a Canada-only campaign; all the others are global.  We closed down the Sri Lanka campaign today and the USA (First Energy) campaign last week.  We’re hoping to launch a Ukraine campaign in the next few days.  Finally, our French language ActNOW RSS feed is greatly improved, with French text replacing the English that remained there.

New languages: We’ve had an offer to translate LabourStart into Hindi which is great, and something we’ve wanted for a very long time.  Now that we have a Hungarian language edition, we need correspondents, so I wrote to all the Hungarians I could find on our English language mailing list — and the first of them has now volunteered to be a correspondent.

Books:  Andy completed the translation into French of our second book (global labour movements) which is now on sale at Amazon, CreateSpace, etc.  He did a mailing to our French language list which generated a lot of interest (nearly 50 sales in the first few days), and it appears that we’ll need to have copies of all our books, in English and French, in Berlin for sale to delegates.  We’re also working hard on Dan Gallin’s book in order to get it ready well in advance of the Berlin conference — at which we’ll have book launch with Dan speaking.

My new contact details: Please note that I am contactable in many ways, but no longer at the old phone number.  I’ve written up what I’m doing and why and encourage LabourStart correspondents to use email where possible, and in urgent cases only, to use Telegram or Skype to reach me.

The weeks in review – 7-20 February 2014

berlin-logo-300Berlin conference:  We’ve made lots of progress on a wide range of issues, most of the work having been done by the organizing committee in Berlin.

We’re now up to 352 registered participants from 58 countries with the largest groups coming from Germany (77), the UK (49) and Nigeria (31).

Because of the very large number of people who’ve signed up to come from Africa, we’ve actually done a mailing to all of them and have recruited some new correspondents.  We’ve also been warned that some of these will not be representatives of genuine independent and democratic trade unions and are showing caution in who gets invitation letters (to get a visa into Germany).

Because of number of registrants we did consider moving the conference to a larger venue, but the majority of members of the organizing committee decided to stick with our current venue.

We’re still putting together the agenda, organizing solidarity housing for the 147 registrants who requested it, working on the visas, dealing with interpretation into the various languages, and much more.

Only 3 months to go!

Campaigns:

  • It seems like we’re about to launch a new campaign in support of workers in Korea — details coming soon.
  • We were going to close down the Sri Lanka campaign today, after three months, but IndustriALL has requested an extension.
  • We received a lovely email from the union at the Labatt brewery where our campaign helped them win their very long strike — and we emailed our entire list about this win.
  • We also received a message updating the Huber Ballesteros campaign (see below).
  • We closed two campaigns — Mexico and a UK-only campaign but haven’t gotten updates back from either union.  It’s very important that unions which request campaigns from us report back to us on a regular basis and particularly when a campaign ends.

New language: We now have LabourStart in Hungarian — with some news already added by our only senior correspondent who speaks the language …

News interface: Now available in Italian for our Italian-speaking correspondents.

MailChimp: We’ve had our first mailings done by users other than me (which I need to approve) and these have been successful.  It’s great to share the load here.

Donations: I’ve now fixed the donations page so that if you’re donating in US dollars, the USA becomes your default country; if in Australian dollars, Australia is your default country, and so on.  This had been causing problems for some Americans trying to donate by credit card via PayPal.

The week in review – 31 January – 7 February 2014

Campaigns: I’ve fixed two things that were nagging me — (1) When signing up to support a campaign, you now must choose a country, and “Select a counrtry” doesn’t count.  Previously, we had “Afghanistan” as our first country and had large numbers of people ignoring this and letting that remain.  They’re now being forced to choose.  (2) You now have to enter a valid email address, with a “@” and full stops (periods).  Obviously we’re not completely testing, and some invalid email addresses will slip through., but at least you have to enter something that remotely looks like an email address.

News: See below — this should help expand the reach of our news stories.  (I’ve written to all our correspondents about this today.)

Mailing list: I’ve invited a number of senior correspondents and translators who already do mass mailngs to use MailChimp directly — and very pleased to see that several have taken me up on the offer.  This should speed things up a bit when sending out mailings.  We’ve nearly completed the migration of our language mailing lists from Sendy to MailChimp.

Berlin conference: Lots happening — details to come.

Interface for adding news: Our Finnish and (soon) Italian correspondents will have an interface in their languages when they post news.  This is already the case with a number of the languages.

Books: We’re making progress on the Dan Gallin book, which is already several hundred pages long.  Andy has translated the global labour book into French.  Tom is doing an inventory of books in the office and calculating how many we’ve sold in the first year as a publisher.

Dates of news stories: The dates appearing next to news stories now appear in the more standard dd-mm-yyyy format — an improvement suggested by Andy.

Campaigns:  There are a couple of suggested new ones.  Meanwhile, we closed the Fiji campaign — a big win.

Articles: I had two more articles appear on the KESK trial in Turkey — in Labor Notes and OpenDemocracy.net.

The week(s) in review: 17-31 January 2014

I spent much of the last two weeks travelling — to Istanbul, Geneva and Brussels — so this will have to be a relatively short report as I have much to catch up on.  Apologies if you’re waiting for an answer to an email — I’m struggling to catch up on that.

Campaigns: We launched new ones for Fiji (26 January) and Aeroflot (17 January). The latter, with just under 12,000 messages sent, is our largest current campaign.

Mailing lists: These continue to grow quite well.  The English list now stands at 85,419; the French list is up to 7,215.  The German list is poised to replace the Italian one as our fourth largest list, as it’s now up to 4,072, just 75 fewer than the Italian one.  That German list was around 2,500 a year ago, so it’s grown spectacularly. We’re migrating most of the lists back to MailChimp due to continuing software issues with Sendy.

Berlin 2014: We have 316 people signed up now (this includes some duplicates).  The organizing committee continues to meet and a lot of progress has been made, including on fundraising.  I continue with monthly mailings to all those who signed up — a mailing went out today.  We’ll be holding the meeting for UK participants on 20 February at the TUC.

Books: We have all the content for the next book (Dan Gallin) and I met with Dan in Geneva in order to discuss and to pick up some photos of him.  Andy has finished a translation of our second book (the global labour movement) into French.  Our fifth book, which we could publish in June, would be a collection of papers and speeches from our Berlin conference.

Turkey: I wrote a number of articles about the KESK trial I attended last week.  I’ll publicize these later today from my personal blog.

The week in review – 10-17.1.14

Campaigns:

  • The Cambodia campaign is doing very well — after just a week, we’re up to well over 10,000 messages sent, making it our second largest current campaign (Kazakhstan is the largest).
  • We just launched a campaign yesterday in defense of Colombian unions; it picked up some 4,300 supporters in the 24 hours online.
  • We closed the previous Colombia campaign just in time after it ran for three full months.  Huber is, unfortunately, still in jail.

Berlin 2014:

  • I participated on Saturday in a very good meeting with four members of our organizing committee in Berlin.  Gisela and I also agreed a number of changes to LabourStart’s German language page, some of which have been done.  These include some new pages about LabourStart, a registration form for new correspondents, and so on.
  • The total number of people registered is now 280, up 20 in the last week.  Of those, 59 are from Germany and 42 from the UK (meaning that of those 20 new ones, 7 come from the UK and Germany).
  • I wrote to the more than 100 people who’ve requested help getting a visa to clarify once again that we cannot help with airfares and to ask for some more details; about 19 have responded so far.
  • The TUC is offering us a room to convene a meeting of people from the UK who have registered, or are thinking about coming to Berlin; we’ll hold this in February.
  • We’re doing a lot of targetting of specific countries; Tom is doing some work focussing on the closest neighbours to Berlin: Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.
  • I contacted the ITUC two days ago asking for a meeting when I’m in Brussels but no answer yet.
  • I fixed the link to the conference on our home pages in all languages — it now points to the right place.

LabourStart Books:

  • Dan Gallin has sent us 12 essays with 3 more to come; we’re exploring new ways to produce this as we’re not happy with CreateSpace’s service and will probably use Lulu (who did our calendar).  Our aim is the get the book out fairly quickly and certainly well in advance of the Berlin conference.

Correspondents:

  • I continue with weekly mailings; this time, I aimed to encourage yet again inactive correspondents.  After 24 hours, we saw a result — a 10% increase in the number of correspondents posting news (up from 78 to 85 this month) and increase in stories (up by 326 in just one day — the previous daily average was just 167).
  • We added several new correspondents this week.

French LabourStart:

  • We continue to make progress, having made at least half a dozen fixes this week.  Some of them are small fixes to all languages and are contributing to making the site more useful for non-English speakers.

Canadian LabourStart:

  • I moved some things around on the page at Derek’s request; it looks better now.

Country pages:

  • I’ve fixed the search, which now always brings up the new pages.
  • I’ve also created a search on all languages, which we had on the old site but hadn’t preserved.

Fundraising:

  • It’s been a week since we launched our quarterly appeal to “power users” (people who’ve supported 3 or more campaigns in the last year).  Results have been good — we’ve taken in just over £4,000 in donations this week.  This is similar to how we did last April, and probably better than the two appeals since then.

Travel:

  • I’ll be travelling for most of the next two weeks — all of next week in Istanbul as a guest of KESK, to participate in the opening of the trial of their activists.  The following week I’ll be in Geneva and then Brussels.  This may mean slower response times to emails, but I hope you’ll all understand.

The weeks in review – 1-10.1.14

Campaigns:

  • We’ve closed the Korean teachers’ campaign and will soon be receiving a report back on the results.
  • The Cambodia campaign, launched yesterday, is taking off very quickly — already considerably larger than the Carnival (Crown Holdings) campaign launched a week earlier.
  • We’re now running our first campaign ever in Ukrainian.

Berlin 2014:

  • I’m off to Berlin tomorrow with Tom to meet with the organizing committee.
  • At the moment we have 260 registrants for the conference, 54 of them from Germany, 40 from the UK.
  • We’ve updated the database adding a number of new fields to begin recording where people will stay, their flight details, contact phone numbers, etc. This information will be added by the conference organizers.

Books:

We’ve just heard from Dan Gallin that he’s assembled the texts for our next book, which we can now begin to produce and sell.  This will be LabourStart’s fourth book.

Mailing lists:

We had a problem with Sendy, trying to resolve it with help from them.

French edition:

Derek and Andy have made several suggestions for improvements which we’ve begun to implement.

Fundraising:

  • We’re about to do the quarterly fundraising mailing to people who regularly support our online campaigns.
  • I’ve also written to all our correspondents about the Svensson prize (having already told our entire list about it) and fingers crossed maybe this year LabourStart will be considered for this.

Newswires:

We now have a Vietnamese English-language newswire at the request of our comrades in Australia, and it appears on the website of the committee to protect Vietnamese workers.

News database:

We’re adding additional languages to allow new correspondents to post news without having to deal with an English interface. The Finnish one is now ready and others are on their way.

The weeks in review – 19-31.12.13

Campaigns:

  • The Korea campaign, closing today, was one of the largest we ever ran. In the last 13 days, it grew from 11,295, which was already pretty good, to 14,566 — a gain of 3,271 during the Christmas period.
  • Our Kazakhstan campaign continues to grow, albeit slower — we’re now up to 10,731, a gain of over 730 in the last two weeks.
  • We’ll be a launching a new campaign in support of United Steelworkers Canada after the new year. The earlier version was closed five days ago.
  • We closed two other campaigns (Honduras and UN staff) a week ago.

Berlin 2014: We’re up to 241 registrants, 50 from Germany, 36 from the UK, and the remaining 155 from 51 other countries. In another 11 days, Tom and I head over to Berlin to meet the organizing committee there. I’ve done a mailing to all registrants and we now have the option to de-register people who cannot attend. As I’ve explained before, many of the registrants have asked about subsidies even though we’ve repeatedly explained that everyone must pay their own way.

Mailing lists: These continue to grow and grow. We’re ending the year with 97,100 addresses on our top three lists: English – 84,853; French – 7,112; Spanish – 5,135. A year ago, those three lists totalled 85,501– a net gain of 11,599, or nearly 14%.

Social networks:

  • We picked up another 5 new Twitter followers in the last 5 days, bringing our total to 11,243. It was 8,115 a year ago — a growth of 3,128, or almost 39%. This is much higher than the growth of our mailing lists.
  • We have considerably fewer supporters on Facebook, with only 8,267. A year ago that number was 5,877, so we’ve picked up 2,390 new fans on Facebook — a gain of over 40%.

Book and calendar sales:

  • Calendar sales reached 221 by year’s end — disappointing, but not a disaster.  (We didn’t lose any money, and earned £172.)
  • Sales of our latest book, Firefox OS for Activists, continue to slowly grow.  We sold 97 paperbacks and 115 Kindle editions, for a total of 212.
  • I’ll report on sales of our other titles in the new year.

The week in review – 11-18.12.13

Campaigns: No new campaigns were added in the last 7 days — but we’ve seen tremendous support for the two most recent ones (Kazakhstan and Korea).

The Korea railway workers campaign is our second largest current campaign with 11,295 supporters – it will take another 3,262 to make it number 1, which is unlikely to happen. Still, we picked up 2,522 new supporters in the last 24 hours (that’s right — more than 100 per hour), so you never know.

Our next new campaign is scheduled for launch in the new year (in support of USW members in Canada at Crown Holdings – will replace the current campaign.)

We’ve been talking with the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) about getting our campaigns up in the Georgian language and they’re keen to help.

One new feature of campaigns is I now do a mailing one week after campaign launch to the people who signed up. This is a one-off (they’re not necessarily on our mailing list) and I use it to update them on what’s happening, to thank them, and to encourage them to spread the word (with details on how to do this with Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc). These messages have a VERY high open rate and they are read, so I will do them for all future campaigns.  The next step is to see if we can do this in additional languages.

Mailing lists: I did a full report on the huge growth of our bigger mailing lists — nearly 16,000 new subscribers to the top 10 lists since January. See below for details.

Berlin 2014: The number of registrants has gone up by 26 this week, most of those coming from the UK and Germany. At the moment we have 223 registrants, 49 of them from Germany and 33 from the UK. The registration form is now available in Dutch — as well as English, German, and Russian. Tom and Eric will visit Berlin on 11 January to meet with the organizing committee, which is doing fantastic work on the ground. There’s now an ad with a link to the conference website on all LabourStart home pages in all languages. We now have a way to modify information submitted by registrants. People who live in Berlin and can offer “solidarity housing” now have the option to do so from the registration page. (About half the people who’ve signed up are requesting this, but many of those are people who I do not expect to attend the conference.) We’ve now made some block bookings at a local hotel and hostel — if you’ve not yet booked, please do so soon.