Category: ILO

Summer’s over – and LabourStart gets busy again

It’s not been much of summer here in London, but then again, it never is.

Here’s how we’ve spent the last 3 weeks:


We launched one in support of port workers in Gdansk, together with Solidarnosc and the ITF. As today, it has 7,045 supporters and appears in 14 languages, including Polish.

We also launched a new campaign in support of striking workers at the National Gallery in London, together with PSI and the PCS union in Britain. After just a week, the campaign has 6,140 supporters and appears in 9 languages.

We closed down the China campaign, launched in June. It had 10,373 supporters. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions told us that the campaign helped “to spread out the message and to draw attention to the imprisoned labour activists” and “although we did not hear any feedback from the Chinese government, there is one [piece of] legislation which was mentioned in this statement restricting the operation and international connection of NGOs in mainland was postponed.”

After closing the recent Hungary campaign, we receive this from the union: “Tamás Járási, president of MCDSz, thanks all those who supported this campaign. The company was upset by it, and told workers it was not a ‘true’ campaign but ‘only a spam driven from London’, and apparently complained to the Dutch ambassador about it. The union judged the campaign to be a success, and said it strengthened morale among the workers. Meanwhile, the struggle continues.”

We have been asked for help by a union in Congo and have passed this on to UNI, who are looking into it.

We’ve agreed to help BWI with a campaign in the Gulf region later this month.

An Iran solidarity group is keen to have us help with a particular prisoner; we’ve raised this with friends at Amnesty International.  It is not clear which GUF could be called upon to support this particular prisoner.

We had a request for a campaign from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, but have not heard anything back from them after we asked some questions.

We also had a request for a campaign from Zimbabwe that stalled, and we await answers.

Mailing lists

We’ve improved the layout of mailings to our English list to give readers the chance to sign up to campaigns they missed, to donate to LabourStart, and more.

There was an attempt to add over 100 fake addresses to one of our lists, but we spotted it and spent some time dealing with the problem. We’ll need to tighten up security on our campaigns form to prevent this happening in future.


We’ve resumed our partnership with unionized bookshop with a low-key publicity campaign for a ‘book of the month’. This has led to a bit of an overhaul of our state news pages, with the country news pages coming next. (See the US states to see what I mean, for example Kentucky.)

Our Global Labour Movements book is currently being translated into Burmese (by the ILO office in Burma), into Portuguese (by Euan, our correspondent in Brazil) and Canadian (well, a Canadian edition) by Derek. The book is already available in English and French.


Our events module wasn’t working on some pages (e.g., Canada, Portuguese) but is now, having been fixed.

Talks & other publicity

I have been invited to speak about LabourStart campaigns to UNISON Waltham Forest, in North London.

I will also be interviewed by an Italian-language magazine based in Luxemburg, about LabourStart, thanks to Silvana.


Andy has done the translation so that our next Android app will appear in French – in addition to the versions we have in English, Norwegian and Esperanto.

Global Solidarity Conference 2016

We’re still planning on this happening next spring in Toronto, and are waiting to confirm a final date.


A lot of work was done by myself and others to prepare for next week’s Strategic Retreat in Brussels. More here when the Retreat is over.

Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Malaysia, Norway, Burma and Transnistria – another week goes by at LabourStart


We launched a new campaign demanding the release of a jailed Iranian teacher trade union leader, Esmail Abdi, which instantly became one of our largest. The campaign has 6,700 supporters after less than two days online. Canadian teachers unions have launched a Thunderclap to help build support for this.  If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, please sign up to support this and spread the word about it.

We’ve also been asked to support a campaign in Turkey and Morocco this week as well. We’re waiting to hear from the IFJ and EFJ about a possible campaign in defense of a journalist in Transnistria who is a LabourStart correspondent.

I did a followup mailing on the Malaysia forestry workers campaign in English. That campaign is well over 8,000 messages sent, making it our second largest current campaign.  But I expect the Iran campaign to overtake it in a day or two.  Followup emails sent a week after we do the initial mailing are important, and I always do them in English.  If the translators for our other large lists (French, German, Spanish) want to do the same, it might help get several hundred additional supporters for our campaigns.

Mailing lists:

We picked up 974 new subscribers this week following the launch of our Iran campaign. We’re now have 132,173 subscribers to our various lists.

Social networks:

Our Facebook page now has 10,021 likes. I’ve stopped paying for advertising and growth from today will be organic. That ad campaign cost us $95.29 and generated 583 new page likes.


Our Android app in Norwegian is now nearly done — just a couple more tweaks and it will go live on Google Play. We’ll begin work on other languages, using this as the template.


The ILO office in Burma needed a Word version of our global labour movement book; this has been found and sent to them.

Breakthrough in Europe, and more …

eescYesterday, thanks to the initiative of Silvana, I was invited to address the regular meeting of the Workers Group of the European Economic and Social Committee, a gathering of nearly 100 trade union leaders from all over Europe.  LabourStart was given 30 minutes on the agenda and we followed their adoption of a statement on Greece.  I spoke and showed a PowerPoint presentation (see it here as a PDF), and we distributed LabourStart flyers to all delegates.  There was a lively discussion, and some were quite familiar with our work and praised it.  Others were introduced to LabourStart for the first time and are keen to work with us, including the Lithuanian delegation.

Following the online campaigning course last week in Hattingen, Germany, we’ve heard from two participants — one from Malta who has begun translating our campaigns into Maltese, and one from the European Federation of Journalists who will be working with us on our next campaign.

Our Malaysia campaign continues to grow and is up to 6,459 supporters as of mid-day today.

Thanks to our ongoing ad campaign, we’re nearly up to 10,000 fans on Facebook — we have picked up 247 new fans in the last 8 days, and have just 110 to go.

We’ll be able to revive the Labour Video of the Year competition thanks to our ongoing partnership with the London Labour Film Festival, which takes place this year in September.  More details soon.

The ILO office in Burma has asked permission to translate our book on the Global Labour Movement into Burmese and publish it there.  We’ve agreed.

Finally, I visited this week with a London-based web design company which organized the recent Hack Day at Mozilla which had a trade union theme and at which we made a presentation.  They’re keep to help with with technological issues and have some very interesting ideas (and a wealth of experience).  We’re considering sharing office space with them, so this could be the beginning of a kind of partnership which could help us enormously.


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 …


  • 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.

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.


  • 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.

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 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.

Weekly round-up: 4-11 June 2012

Some of the things I’ve been working on for the last week:


  • Closed two campaigns (Kamal Abbas – Egypt, Abdolreza Ghanbari – Iran) without clear results yet.  Both cases continue.  The Ghanbari campaign set a new standard for us, and with over 17,000 messages sent it was our biggest campaign ever.  As Derek Blackadder points out in the comments, this means our next goal has to be 20,000.
  • We also launched new campaigns this week in support of oil workers in Egypt and public sector workers in Algeria; both campaigns have gotten off to a slow start.
  • We expect new campaigns to be launched shortly in support of workers in Korea, Kenya and possibly Turkey and Spain.
  • The campaign counter is now fixed, though not yet fully automated (we’re unable to use ‘cron’ on the new server, for those of you who understand these things.)  I also tweaked a few more things the resulted from the move to our new campaigns server, such as ensuring that ‘ActNOW’ links that appear next to news stories point directly to the new site.  I fixed the campaigns script so you should no longer be able to choose ‘Select your country’ as your country (as many people have done).

Mailing lists: We are very close to 100,000 names.  When we cross this threshold, we’ll need to raise an additional £1,600 a year.  We’re going to attempt to grow the Danish and Swedish lists, and to find volunteer translators to help with mailings to these lists and campaigns.  (This is currently covered by Espen who does it in Norwegian, but it would be better to have versions in all three Scandinavian languages.)

ILO: We’ve gotten no further news from the ITUC and GUFs about the employer attempt to block discussion of workers’ rights at this year’s International Labour Conference. We have told all that we’re ready and willing to do an online campaign on a moment’s notice.

Writing: I had articles published this week in both Solidarity and the Morning Star about the case of US politician John Edwards.

Office: I’ve begun looking for an office for LabourStart as I will be moving house by late September and will no longer be able to work from home.  At the moment we’re budgetting about £600 per month (£7,200 a year), which will either get us a very small office or possibly a studio apartment.

Intern: I looked into what it would cost to hire an intern at the London Living Wage; I think this and an office are the next two steps toward professionalizing LabourStart even more and expanding our capacity.  At £8.30 per hour, and calculating a 35 hour week, that would be an additional £15,100 per year we’d need to raise.

Donations: We received £1,100 in the last week from two British unions (CWU – £1,000; Napo – £100), £126 from the OECTA in Canada and a number of individual donors (£222).

Unions ‘ambushed’ at international labour conference in Geneva – what we can do

News broke last night that employers were going to block all discussion of workers’ rights violations for the first time ever at the International Labour Conference which is held every year in Geneva. Here is what LabourStart is doing about it:

  • Last night, news stories were posted to the website – given a top global priority.
  • Emails were exchanged with figures in a couple of the global union federations about the possibility of a campaign.
  • Links to statements by the ITUC and 3 GUFs were posted by me to UnionBook, and automatically to Twitter and my Facebook status.
  • LabourStart’s own Twitter feed gets 4 postings, one after the other, to our 6,437 followers.  Re-tweeting begins immediately, with the British TUC doing the first.
  • On Facebook, links were posted to the LabourStart page (4,516 likes).
  • I also changed theFacebook banner graphic to now look like this.
  • Marc Belanger has produced an excellent broadcast for Radio Labour devoted solely to this – I’m now giving that some extra publicity as well.

More soon …