Category: Publicity

LabourStart’s first-ever strategic retreat

On 18-20 September, about 25 LabourStart senior correspondents and translators, together with partners from the global union federations, met at the offices of the German national trade union centre in Brussels for our first-ever strategic retreat.

It was a meeting with few speeches and lots of discussion and resulted in a long action plan, including the creation of a very small Executive and a number of working groups.

The Executive members (pictured below) are Espen Løken, Andrew Casey, Kirill Buketov, Silvana Pennella, Eric Lee (editor), Gisela Neunhöffer, and Derek Blackadder.


More details to follow in the next few weeks.

Here are some other highlights of the last two weeks (in alphabetical order by subject) …

Bank: Our bank, the trade-union-owned Unity Trust, has changed its sort code. If you need to make transfers to our account, write to [email protected] and I’ll send you the new details.

Books: I have ordered, and will be distributing, 60 copies of our red book on online campaigning at the upcoming FES event on online campaigning in Berlin, early next month.


  • We launched a new campaign in support of workers in Kyrgyzstan, working together with IndustriAll.
  • Mulberry, the target of our current Turkey campaign, has written to everyone who sent a message laying out their side of the story. IndustriALL will be giving us a response.
  • We are in discussions with FIM, the musicians’ GUF, about a possible campaign in support of their affiliate in Cameroon.
  • We sent out a mass mailing in English to promote our victory in Aeroflot — and to encourage people to sign up to all our current campaigns.
  • Though not a formal campaign, we gave extensive publicity on the site and on social media to the death in custody of an Iranian trade union activist, Shahrokh Zamani.

Conference: Our Global Solidarity Conference will be held in Toronto in May 2016. More details coming soon.

Inside LS (this blog): I’ve tried to fix the automated mailings of new posts from here so that the subject line isn’t always “Breaking News” — we’ll know in a moment if that worked.

Mailing lists: We added 193 new subscribers this week, 245 last week, and 580 the week before that, for total of 1,018 — mostly to the English list.

Portuguese/Brazilian LS: We’ve gotten our Facebook and Twitter feeds going now. We also now have a ‘What is LS?’ page there in Portuguese.


  • The German national trade union centre DGB has a major article on LabourStart in their magazine, both the print and online versions.
  • I completed the text of an interview about LS for an Italian language magazine published in Luxemburg.
  • I was invited to speak at two meetings of Waltham Forest UNISON in North London, and publicized our campaigns, giving out our flyers to a few dozen members.
  • Several of us met in Brussels with the head of communications of the European Trade Union Confederation and discussed cooperation.

UnionBook: We’ve had to migrate control of the domain name ( from our previous provider, and managed to get this to work, though the site was offline for several hours. We’ve removed all references to LabourStart from its front page as we consider next steps for this social network.

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


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.

The month in review – 28 March – 25 April 2014

Berlin conference: We’re now just 4 weeks away from the conference opening on Friday, 23 May. The number of people registered since I last reported 4 weeks ago has gone up by 85 — we now have 579 registrants. It is very likely that this will pass 600 in the next week.

The majority of registrants (300) come from just 11 countries — Germany (129), the UK (61), USA (20), Russia (18), Canada (16), the Netherlands (15), Switzerland (12), and Ukraine (11). There are 17 coming from three Nordic countries. More than 30% of all registrants in the last month came from Germany.

There are some large delegations registered from developing countries, though we’re not certain how many of these people will actually be able to attend. These include: Nigeria (31), Liberia (25), Bangladesh (20), Pakistan (20), and Cameroon (17).

In total, we have delegations registered from 70 countries.

The 61 coming from the UK is larger than the total number of participants in our London conference in 2008, and the 36 coming from North America probably exceeds the total number who attended our Washington conference in 2009.

LabourStart will have a stall at the ITUC World Congress which is happening in Berlin just before our event. In addition, a number of LabourStart correspondents will be attending the ITUC as journalists. If you can be at the ITUC event, please let me know. We’ll need help staffing that stall and raising LabourStart’s profile there in general.

Publicity: We now have a global media list with over 200 addresses on it. We’ve now sent out our first three press releases to that list. If you have any suggestions for journalists who should be added to the list, please send them on.

We’ve now prepared a new LabourStart flyer which will be published initially in English, German and Russian. Thanks to Gisela and Derek who helped write the text and to Masha who did the graphic design. If you’re coming to Berlin, please make sure to leave room in your luggage to take copies of the flyer home with you.

For the second time, LabourStart is a sponsor of the London Labour Film Festival which takes place next week. We have a large ad in the festival programme, and we did two mailings to our UK list urging people to attend.

Books: We’re nearly ready with Book 4 (Dan Gallin) — this will be ready for sale at the book launch in Berlin.

Campaigns: We’ve launched just two new campaigns in the last six weeks — supporting Georg Fischer workers in Turkey and union leaders sentenced to jail in Ecuador, launched this week. Both campaigns are growing well and quickly.

We closed down the Crown Holdings (Canada) campaign after some 4 months online. We are keeping a couple of older campaigns going at the request of their initiators — Aeroflot and Cambodia. Both have very large numbers of supporters (+12K).

In addition, we’ve helped give extensive publicity to campaigns launched by our friends. We just did a mass mailing yesterday to support the IUF campaign for North Carolina tobacco workers. We also gave extensive publicity to the Amnesty International campaign in support of jailed union leaders in Bahrain.

Finally, we launched a Canada-only campaign last month — also in support of the Crown Holdings workers, but targetting the premier of Ontario.

News: As I reported earlier this month, there’s now a new, quick way for correspondents to add news links to LabourStart. The number of active correspondents has grown; in mid-March we only had 76 actives and today that number is 92. We need to continue working to ensure that many more LabourStart correspondents post news regularly.

Fundraising: April is one of the months that we tend to do a fundraising appeal and our totals this time were disappointing. The total donations for this month are nearly £6,400 — more than £1,000 less than the average we get for the months we do such appeals (though considerably better than we did in July 2013). I discussed these issues in a post below, and have decided to move toward annual, rather than quarterly, appeals.

In addition to that money, we have received a pledge of yet another donation from Unite Here (in the USA). And we’ve received substantial support from German trade unions and foundations for our Berlin conference. Finally, we don’t appear to have won any of the three competitions we were entered into (see my post from 19 March). Darn.

The week in review – 20-23 July

This will be my last update for a while — I will be back at my desk on 12 August for a week and a half, and then back to work after the summer break on 28 August.

Mailing lists: I fixed the link on the English and new French home pages to ensure that anyone signing up to mailing lists there is added to our old MailChimp lists.  I migrated some who had subscribed (prematurely) to the new Sendy lists.  We’re not yet using Sendy for English or French, but we will.

Campaigns: I’ve sent out monthly reminders to our partners in general, and specific ones to our friends at the 3 Cosas campaign in London and GE workers in Erie, Pennsylvania campaign at the two-month mark.  We’ve promoted the Maruti Suzuki campaign in Hindi to more than 300 Indians who are on our English language mailing list.  We’re beginning to grow a small mailing list in Hindi as a result.

Books: I’ve followed up with CreateSpace and our bank about missing royalty payments totalling over £500.  We’ve been asked to ship 60 copies of our Global Labour Movement book to the founding congress of the International Domestic Workers Network in Montevideo in October.

Asia: I’ve followed up with the 15 trade union communicators I met at the recent ILO course in Turin, asking them to support, publicize, and translate our campaigns, and to signup as volunteer correspondents.

Publicity: I was interviewed this morning for an article to appear in Labour Research.

Kiev conference in November: Edd and I have been invited to participate in an event linking together trade unionists and democratic socialists from across the former Soviet Union.  One of the days will be devoted to a meeting of LabourStart correspondents from across the region.

Brussels course in October: I’ll be teaching trade unions from across Europe about campaigning in a course organized by the European Trade Union Institute.  I did this last year by Skype; this year, they’re bringing me over to Brussels.

LabourStart home page in French: Edd has done a lot more work on this and we are nearly ready for launch.  We’ll be meeting Andy in London in August and can finalize then.

The week in review – 27 June – 5 July


Bangladesh: The ITUC is proposing a new campaign in support of changes to the labour laws; it could be launched today.

India: We’ve been asked to do a campaign in support of Suzuki workers.  We’re waiting for an answer from IndustriALL on this.

Turkey: We’re up to 21,634 supporters for this, our largest-ever campaign.

Canada: Our campaign in support of brewery workers is rapidly approaching the 5,000 mark, which is exceptionaly good for a campaign in just one language, targetting only one country.  It was helped by the IUF promoting it in a mailing.

PepsiCo India: We helped the IUF promote this important campaign on their site, which is now up to well over 9,400 supporters.

Thailand: Our campaign in support of Andy Hall was closed, and we await news from BWI and UNI about the results.

International Training Centre of the ILO – Turin, Italy

I spoke yesterday at a seminar for trade union communicators from Asia.  There were 15 participants from a wide range of countries and for most of them it was their first exposure to LabourStart.  Each of them left with copies of both of our books.  I’ll be following up with all of them as individuals.

LabourStart books

Our total sales for Campaigning online and winning is 904 (78 in French, 826 in English), and for the Global labour movement it’s 427 (English only).  Of those 1,253 books, 92 were Kindle editions and all the rest, paperbacks.  We’re working hard on books 3 and 4 now, and will have more details very soon.


We did the quarterly fundraising mailing on Monday to our 19,692 core supporters (people who’ve supported at least 3 LabourStart campaigns in the last 12 months).  There were some issues with the payment system (until today, it only accepted one currency) and some people were confused about how to change the default country it was showing. Nevertheless, we’ve received a considerable number of donations, totalling £1,523 (US$2,283).

Labour history calendar

We’re now getting closer to publishing this and today are writing to a number of key LabourStart correspondents and translators in different countries to get the best 13 illustrations we can for this.

New home page

Edd has been working together with Espen and Andy to finalize the migration of our last two remaining language editions of LabourStart to the new format introduced some time ago in Englsh.  The Norwegian version is now live and the French one is coming soon.

The week in review – 19 – 26 June


The Turkey campaign has now reached an unprecedented level of support, with over 21,250 messages sent.  For the first time, German is the second language with 1,076 messages sent — a new record.  (This will be very helpful in raising our profile in Germany prior to our conference in Berlin next year.)

We launched a new Canadian campaign in support of beer workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.  It’s gotten over 1,530 messages sent in the first few days online – making it larger already than the UK-only campaign in support of University of London cleaners.

It’s been more than 3 weeks since we launched a global campaign, and as we expect to soon shut down the Thailand campaign (this week) and the USA Vancouver lockout campaign (in about 20 days), we may soon have just two live global campaigns running.

Next global solidarity conference – Berlin, May 2014

Eric, Edd and Gisela met in London on Monday in the first face-to-face discussion about the conference.  It was a very productive meeting and has been followed up with the creation of a shared Evernote notebook in which members of the organizing committee in Berlin and London are sharing ideas and information.


Our list of press contacts continues to grow, and we now have over 80 journalists we’ll be writing to regularly.  If anyone reading this has email addresses of journalists who cover labour news, please share those addresses with us.  Thanks.

I’ve been invited to speak next week at the ILO International Training Centre in Turin, Italy to a group of 15 trade union communicators from 9 countries in Asia.  There will be people from unions in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.  One of the subjects I’m expected to cover is LabourStart campaigns.  I’ll be giving each of the participants copies of the two LabourStart books and will attempt to awaken their interest in our project with a view toward recruiting more correspondents, translators, etc.

LabourStart books

Sales at last weekend’s Ideas for Freedom in London were disappointing.

The total sales CreateSpace reports on the Global Labour Movement book since its publication two months ago is 364 plus 27 Kindle editions, for a total of 391.  This doesn’t include sales from our office.

As for the Campaigning Online book, CreateSpace reports sales of 630 copies sold, plus 65 Kindle editions, for a total of 695.  In addition, we sold over 62 copies from our office and gave away at least 44, including review copies, so the total distribution of this book is over 800.  In addition,  the French edition of the Campaigning book has sold 78 copies through CreateSpace.


We just heard that a large British union has contributed £1,000.  Next week I’ll do the quarterly mailing to our 15,923 19,692 “power users” — the people who tend to support all our online campaigns.  The last mailing raised several thousand pounds, so I hope that this time we’ll do as well — or better.

Today in Labour History

We’ve made some progress in identifying a supplier and costing for the print calendar.  And we’ve made sure that for the next few weeks (until the end of July), there will be history items every day on our home page.

New home page

We’ve come up with draft home pages in the new format for the last two remaining languages — French and Norwegian.

The week in review – 10 – 18 June


The focus has been on Turkey, of course — our largest campaign ever and soon to be the first to break the 20,000 mark.  This week we launched a Turkey Twitter campaign in which hundreds of people tweeted the same message at Prime Minister Erdogan.  We live blogged developments, here on Inside LabourStart.  We ran a live feed on our Facebook page with reports from Ron Oswald of the IUF in Taksim Square.  A Greek language version of the campaign will go live today – our first-ever campaign in Greek.

The 3 Cosas campaign in the UK has been the focus of some attention as well — we’ve gotten a commitment from the student unions in London to email their members, thousands of students, many of whom are expected to support the campaign.

In Canada, we’re about to close one campaign and launch another one.

We raised the possibility of a Nike campaign with IndustriALL and are waiting to hear from them.

We followed up this week with the ITF regarding the Vancouver, Washington port dispute.  The campaign is now two months old and is just under 10,000 messages sent.

And as we do once a month, we wrote to all our campaign partners with updates and reminders.

Next global solidarity conference – Berlin, May 2014:

There’s been a lot of discussion by email about this, and next Monday, Eric, Edd and Gisela will meet in London to discuss.  We have draft 2 page conference document in English and German versions.  Matt and others have been scouring Berlin to find the best venue for our meeting.


As I reported earlier this week, we suspended the Facebook ad campaign.

We’ve begun building a list of press contacts in the hope of getting some coverage in mainstream (and alternative) media for LabourStart.  Within minutes of our first mailing yesterday (to about 70 addresses), the British left-wing magazine Red Pepper posted a very short version of what we sent them as a tweet to their nearly 10,000 followers.

LabourStart Books:

Sales remain slow, though have picked up slightly in mid-June.  We sold 11 copies of the Global Labour Movement book last week and 4 copies of the Online Campaigning book.

We have two more books in the pipeline both of which will come out in 2013.

Dormant languages:

As I reported, 11 of the approximately 30 languages on our website are not updated regularly. Edd and I selected the six most important (where we have mailing lists, or do campaigns, or both) in an effort to revitalize. We’ve recruited some new correspondents and will be checking to see if any of these pages have come alive. The next step is to deal with the other five languages.

Today in Labour History:

We’ve begun work on the next step of this project — a print calendar, to be available for purchase in Q4 of 2013.

Facebook campaign – closed

Our latest ad campaign on Facebook is now closed.  We spent US $336.89, showed our ad to 75,546 people, and picked up 773 new likes for our page.  In other words, each new like cost us about 50 US cents.  We’re now up to 7,585 likes for our page.  To reach 10,000 (getting another 2,415 likes) would cost us $1,200.  There is very little evidence to show that these new likes translate well into participants in our campaigns, correspondents, translators, or donors.  Any thoughts on whether we should continue to invest in Facebook ads?

The week in review – 29 May – 10 June

Turkey – This is the big one, likely to become the largest campaign we’ve ever done, and possibly even reach my personal goal of 20,000 messages sent, sometime this week.  Lots of updates below.
Small screen version goes live – Our campaigns now look MUCH better on smartphones and tablets, a first example of “responsive web design” on LabourStart, with more to come.

Berlin 2014
Edd and I drafted a very short document explaining what we’re hoping to achieve in Berlin at next year’s LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference.  We’ll be having a phone call with the ITUC today and a meeting with Gisela, who is based in Berlin, in two weeks, in London.

We’ve been running a Facebook ad campaign for nearly 3 weeks now.  It’s cost us $288.00, the ads have been seen by 68,389 people in the UK and Germany, and we’ve picked up 677 new ‘likes’.  As a result of this, we now have 1,694 likes from the UK and 185 from Germany — making it our 6th strongest country.
As reported below, we got good publicity in the German/Austrian Esperanto magazine.

Book sales continue to be slow.  In June, we sold only 19 copies of the Global Labour Movement book, and 4 of Campaigning and Winning (all in English).

Site traffic
As reported below, we’ve started using Clicky to provide real-time updates on traffic to our sites.  It was quite fun to watch a world map light up when we launched the Turkey campaign.

We’ve identified 11 “dormant languages” on our news pages where correspondents have ceased to be active.  We prioritized six of these (Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Portuguese, Farsi, Italian) and have posted a message on each one explaining that the page is not currently being updated, but asking for volunteers to help.  We’ve also begun writing to each mailing list in these languages and have already gotten some new correspondents.
We have been able to do those mailings and post messages in those languages because we have picked up a number of new volunteer translators.  We did this by writing to people from different countries who had signed up to the English language version of our Turkey campaign.  As a result, we have an unprecedented 24 languages for the Turkey campaign.
Finally, we continue to constantly update our news pages.  Most recently, our French-language Canada page is shaping up well, with top stories now for the first time.

We now have a proper form to submit events and people have begun submitting them.  We’ll set this up so that events for specific countries are automatically sent by email to the appropriate editors who will decide what to post.  We’ll begin publicity to all our correspondents and subscribers once things quiet down a bit here …