Category: Correspondents

Campaigns supporting workers in Estonia, Turkey, India, Yemen, Israel, etc.

Most of the work in the last 13 days has focussed on campaigns:

  • We launched a new campaign at the request of the ITF, in support of workers in Estonia.
  • We’re keeping our Turkey/Mulberry campaign live at the moment at the request of IndustriALL pending some developments there.
  • I wrote to Sharan Burrow at the ITUC offering our help in growing the joint campaign with the ILO “50 for Freedom”. She replied and is happy to have our help.
  • We gave extensive publicity to the IUF’s new PepsiCo campaign on our home page, to our mailing lists, and on social media.
  • We received a campaign request from WAC Ma’an in Israel; this is on hold pending developments in the region and we also await a reply from the Histadrut.
  • We gave publicity to an IFJ campaign in support of kidnapped media workers in Yemen on social media.
  • I completed work on the new Translations Dashboard which is being used by our volunteer translators. It shows who is translating our campaigns, and prevents duplication of effort.

In other news … Continue reading

LabourStart in Numbers – Q3 2015

This quarterly report raises more questions than it answers, and here are some of them:

1. We’re showing the total number of downloads from Google’s Android store for the first time. As we can see, after some time, many users who downloaded an app cease to be active users, or delete it from their phones. What can we do to sustain our numbers and grow them?

2. Nearly all our mailing lists are either shrinking or static (Swedish is an artificial growth – imports from the English list). What can we do to grow our lists over time? (Short answer: get unions which request campaigns to promote them to their members and allies.)

3. Only 5 new correspondents added in the last 90 days — how can we bring in new ones, especially to replace those who become inactive over time?

4. Traffic to our news pages remains quite low, especially to the non-English ones. We have twice as many unique users of our campaigns as we have of news.  What can we do to drive traffic to our news site? Ads on Google and Facebook?

NEW: Android app downloads (totals)

First number is current, second number is total installs

English: 428 / 686
Norwegian: 33 / 31
Esperanto: 28 / 76

Total: 489 current installs

Mailing lists

English: 85,962 – 86,373
French: 8,299 – 8,276
German: 5,793 – 5,700
Spanish: 5,462 – 5,431
Italian: 3,998 – 4,039
Turkish: 3,755 – 3,650
Korean: 2,996 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,749 – 2,790
Russian: 2,384 – 2,408
Dutch: 1,775 – 1,743

Swedish: 1,239 – 387
Chinese: 1,103 – 1,103
Polish: 734 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Portuguese: 373 – 355
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 282 – 278
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Social networks

Twitter followers

English: 14,881 – 14,676
Canada English: 4,613 – 4,422
Canada French: 803 – 728
USA: 524 – 521
Indonesia: 341 – 292
Italian: 330 – 290
French: 225 – 224
Spanish: 76 – 76
German: 75 – 76
Japanese: 21 – 21
Russian: 19 – 19
Portuguese: 8 – 7


Like page (English): 10,078 – 9,893
Members of LabourStart group: 8,526 – 8,500
Like LabourStart page (French): 478 – 478
Like LabourStart page (German): 433 – 428
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 165 – 161
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 145 – 143


Members: 5,885 – 5,879


LabourStart group: 1,948 – 1,944


Union group on Flickr: 791 – 790


Correspondents: 789 – 784 (news)

Unique users – 18,711 – 24,170

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 27% – 28%
Canada 15% – 14%
UK 8% – 8%
Australia 6% – 8%
India 5% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 33,294 – 44,076
USA – English 14,883 – 13,854
Canada – English 6,543 – 6,791
Home page – Norwegian – 2,493
Australia – 2,234 – 2,673 (campaigns)

Unique users – 39,436 – 30,849

Top countries (by sessions):

Canada 19% – 23%
USA 15% – 15%
UK 15% – 12%
Germany 6% – 7%
Australia 5% – 4%

Most popular pages – page views:

Iran: Free Esmail Abdi now – 13,947
China: Stop police violence against workers fighting for their rights – 13,105
Turkey: Union busting at €1,000 hand bag producer SF Leather – 10,211
Malaysia: Stop union busting in SFI – 9,058
Poland: Stop sackings and union busting at port – 4,760

LabourStart in Numbers – Q2 2015

Some highlights of this, our second quarterly report for 2015:

Mailing lists

Mailing lists have largely stagnated or shrunk in the last 3 months, though we’ve seen some modest growth for English, Swedish, French, Portuguese and Hebrew.

English: 86,373 – 86,077
French: 8,276 – 8,238
German: 5,700 – 5,708
Spanish: 5,431 – 5,446
Italian: 4,039 – 4,059
Turkish: 3,650 – 3,684
Korean: 3,080 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,790 – 2,803
Russian: 2,408 – 2,418
Dutch: 1,743 – 1,762

Chinese: 1,103 – 1,107
Polish: 752 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Swedish: 387 – 345
Portuguese: 355 – 353
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 278 – 277
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Other ways to count …

Social networks

Twitter followers

Unlike our mailing lists, we’re seeing continuous growth for our bigger Twitter accounts. In the last quarter, we picked up 532 new followers in English, for example, as compared to just 296 new subscribers to our mailing list.

English: 14,676 – 14,134
Canada English: 4,422 – 4,073
Canada French: 728 – 666
USA: 521 – 492
Indonesia: 292 – 230
Italian: 290 – 255
French: 224 – 221
Spanish: 76 – 75
German: 76 – 73
Japanese: 21 – 21
Russian: 19 – 19
Portuguese: 7 – 7


Helped by an ad campaign, our biggest growth this quarter was on Facebook, where our English language page picked up 740 new likes, far more than Twitter or the mailing list.

Like page (English): 9,893 – 9,153
Members of LabourStart group: 8,500 – 8,338
Like LabourStart page (French): 478 – 463
Like LabourStart page (German): 428 – 407
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 161 – 149
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 143 – 135


Members: 5,879 – 5,862


LabourStart group: 1,944 – 1,892


Union group on Flickr: 790 – 787


Correspondents: 784 – 773 (news)

Unique users – 24,170 – 35,252

Top countries (by sessions):

This has proven to be remarkably consistent from quarter to quarter, except for Australia’s fall to 4th place.

USA 28% – 25%
Canada 14% – 14%
UK 8% – 7%
Australia 8% – 16%
India 5% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 44,076 – 54,062
USA – English 13,854 – 15,024
Canada – English 6,791 – 8,049
Australia – English 2,673
UK – English 2,644 (campaigns)

Unique users – 30,849 – 41,682

Top countries (by sessions):

The very significant growth of Canadian traffic to our campaigns may be explained this quarter by a couple of Canada-only campaigns. One of these was even the third most popular page on our campaigns site.

Canada 23% – 12%
USA 15% – 17%
UK 12% – 14%
Germany 7% – 7%
Australia 4% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

China: Stop police violence against workers fighting for their rights – 12,804
Malaysia: Stop union busting in SFI – 5,419
Tell Premier Wynne and Minister Flynn of Ontario to Stand on the Side of Canada’s Workers! – 5,278
Iran: New wave of arrests of labour activists prior to May Day – 4,525
Hungary: Hödlmayr does not respect trade union rights – 4,524

China campaign has broken the 10,000 barrier and more news from the 2nd week in June

The China campaign now tops 10,000 messages sent and is our largest active campaign.
A followup mailing was sent to the English list, and this generated 1,600 new supporters from the 5,500 people who opened this message (but didn’t open the first one we sent).  We should consider doing this for our other large language lists.
The Hindi version of this campaign went live this week.
I discussed the possibility of a LabourStart campaign in support of jailed journalists in Turkey with a former president of the National Union of Journalists (UK) — we’d want to do this as a campaign together with the European or International Federation of Journalists.

We’re still working to get the Portuguese interface working properly for adding news — nearly there. We also now have a transation of the welcome message for new correspondents. Euan has made contact with all our translators and correspondents in Brazil.
We now seem to have a working interface in Sinhalese for our campaigns and have just received the first translation of a campaign — I hope to go live with this very soon.

Books & other publications:
Derek and I have begun looking into printers for the 2016 calendar. Once we know we can do this, and afford this, we’ll begin the work on a photo competition.
With the agreement of my co-author, Jeremy Green, we’ll make our book Firefox OS for Activists, free on the Kindle.  And maybe other books later as well.

I’m exploring the possibility of re-opening a LabourStart office in London; we’ve had an offer of (free) space. More details next week.

Mailing lists:
This week, I added 558 new subscribers to 16 mailing lists – 401 of them in English.

London Labour Film Festival:
Once again, we’ll be involved in supporting this and promoting it to our supporters in the UK. The festival will take place in the fall.

We received a generous donation from the PSEU, a union in Ireland.
I’ve written individually to half a dozen unions in the USA that we have worked with asking for donations.

Another week supporting workers in Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, etc.


  • We’ve done most of the mass mailings for the two campaigns launched last week, and gotten them translated into 11 languages, and the results so far are 5,079 supporters for the Iran campaign and 5,037 for the Hungary campaign. A reminder mailing to more than 70,000 on the English list went out yesterday.
  • After 4 months online, we closed the Holcim Lafarge campaign, which had 8,580 supporters — IndustriALL says: “Clearly the campaign made its impact and was noted by the management of Lafarge and Holcim. Thanks to workers’ mobilisations both on site and through LabourStart we hope there will be more readiness on the side of the management to our demands now.”
  • A possible Indonesia campaign was to go live today, but is on hold for now.
  • I’ve posted information on both about our existing Iran campaign and offering help — so far, no takers.

Online campaigning course: Just 4 days left to register — for European trade unionists only:

Activating correspondents: The number of active correspondents increase by 63% following my mailing to all correspondents. In addition, we’ve picked up a few new correspondents.

Facebook Group: Our group continues to expand with many new participants (8,436 members today) and quite a high level of activity. There’s been a problem of spammers, but our team of volunteer admins is on the case.

London Hackathon: There’s an event taking place on 12 June at the Mozilla Foundation offices in London at which people with programming skills will work on pro-labour tools — and we’ll be there and are part of the planning.  I met with the organizer this week.  On the event website they write: “The aim is to provide a forum where people can meet, share ideas and start building some apps that will help workers to organise.”  This could result in getting some things done for LabourStart which have long been on our collective to-do list.

Followup on the police complaint in Israel regarding the LabourStart campaign: We’ve been asked by International Union Rights to do an article on this for next month.

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.

LabourStart in Numbers – Q1 2015

Some highlights of this, our first quarterly report for 2015:

For the first time in a while, we have some fairly accurate statistics from Google Analytics, which answers the question – how many people look at LabourStart? The short answer seems to be — about 42,000. That’s the number of unique visitors to our campaigns in the first three months of the year. Of those, about 35,000 have also visited our main (news) website.

There are some significant differences in how LabourStart is used in different countries.  For example, while Australians are big consumers of our news, providing us with one in six viewers of our news, they only provide one in twenty supporters of our campaigns.

Our mailing lists total over 125,000 — our top 11 lists, all of which have 1,000 subscribers or more — total 124,382. So the number of people who visit our campaigns are only about a third of the size of our mailing list.

Our presence on social media continues to grow, with our biggest growth being on Twitter. We’re also experiencing good growth on Facebook as well.

Mailing lists with 200 or more subscribers – the second number is from the previous quarter

Where the numbers are unchanged, it’s likely that we did no mailings to that list during this period – these are therefore the dormant lists. Of our largest lists, the dormant ones are therefore Korean, Chinese, Polish, Finish and Japanese. Were we to find volunteer translators to regularly mail to those lists, we’d instantly reach 6,109 people, which would generate 300 – 600 new supporters for every campaign.

English: 86,077 – 85,230
French: 8,238 – 8,202
German: 5,708 – 5,568
Spanish: 5,446 – 5,414
Italian: 4,059 – 4,088
Turkish: 3,684 – 3,668
Korean: 3,080 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,803 – 2,801
Russian: 2,418 – 2,466
Dutch: 1,762 – 1,695

Chinese: 1,107 – 1,106
Polish: 752 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 687
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Portuguese: 353 – 353
Indonesian: 346 – 344
Swedish: 345 – 236
Hebrew: 277 – 270
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

Other ways to count …

Social networks

Twitter followers

Note the spectacular growth of the new Italian feed. Also very good growth for the main English and Canadian and US feeds, as well as our Indonesia feed.

English: 14,134 – 13,646
Canada English: 4,073 – 3,800
Canada French: 666 – 624
USA: 492 – 442
Italian: 255 – 14
Indonesia: 230 – 179
French: 221 – 218
Spanish: 75 – 73
German: 73 – 71
Japanese: 21 – 22
Russian: 19 – 18
Portuguese: 7 – 7


Our Group – where people can post their own material – continues to grow much faster than our page, picking up 80 new members this quarter, while the page only grew by half that amount. The fastest growing page of ours on Facebook is the Hebrew one, growing by 20% this quarter.

Like page (English): 9,153 – 9,112
Members of LabourStart group: 8,338 – 8,258
Like LabourStart page (French): 463 – 463
Like LabourStart page (German): 407 – 391
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 149 – 144
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 135 – 112


Members: 5,862 – 5,846


LabourStart group: 1,892 – 1,835


Union group on Flickr: 787 – 786


Correspondents: 773 – 762 (news)

Unique users – 35,252 – 7,869

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 25%
Australia 16%
Canada 14%
UK 7%
India 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 54,062
USA – English 15,024
Canada – English 8,049
Home page – Norwegian – 3,515
India – 3,284 (campaigns)

Unique users – 41,682 – 10,810

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 17%
UK 14%
Canada 12%
Germany 7%
Australia 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Don’t tarnish your love with Rio Tinto’s dirty diamonds and gold! – 11,390
Turkey: 98 health care workers sacked for joining a union – 10,212
Lafarge Holcim: No merger without workers’ rights! – 9,416
Kenya: Truckers held at gunpoint for protesting over 24 hour shifts – 8,360
Ecuador: Reinstate Jimena Lopez this International Women’s Day – 7,882

New campaigns, improved tools and an instructional video

I was travelling for most of the last two weeks, but here are some updates anyway.


  • We launched a new campaign in support of Kenyan truckers at the request of the International Transport Workers Federation.  Over 5,300 people have already signed up to support the campaign.
  • We closed down the Rio Tinto Valentine’s Day campaign at the request of IndustriALL and the Peru campaign given to us by Public Services International.  The campaign got over 9,000 messages sent to the company and definitely got their attention.
  • We did a followup mailing and additional publicity in support of sacked Ecuadorian union activist Jimena Lopez, adding another 1,110 new supporters to the campaign. Increasingly we do followup mailings to people who didn’t open the first message and this produces good results.  That campaign has just over 8,000 supporters.
  • We now have a new template for our mass mailings which includes some good links not just to forward the mail but to post to Facebook, Twitter, etc.

International Women’s Day:

  • We sent all correspondents a link to short instructional video on how to tag working women’s news stories on LabourStart. (We’ll be making more videos like this – let me know what you’d like done.)

New campaign, working women’s news, online forum, 2015 retreat, new address – another 6 days at LabourStart …


We launched a new campaign yesterday in support of the ITF’s fight to get Ecuadorian trade unionist Jimena Lopez reinstated. The campaign is linked to International Women’s Day. In less than 24 hours, the campaign was live in three languages and had just under 3,000 supporters.

We did a special mailing on Monday in support of forestry workers in Gabon. They approached us for help, we turned to BWI and BWI have done their own online campaign which we’re supporting.  As a result of our effort, over 5,000 people visited their campaign page.

We’re about to close another Latin American campaign – this one was launched on the eve of the climate change summit in Peru. It was a somewhat small campaign for us, getting fewer than 6,000 supporters. I’ve asked PSI to update us on the results.

The fight with Rio Tinto has heated up. Tonight there’s a conference call with all the partners, led by IndustriALL — I’ll let you all know what’s happened. That campaign has already sent over 9,000 messages of protest, and the company is rather upset about all this.

Our largest current campaign remains the Turkish health care workers, with 10,639 supporters, a gain of 99 in the last 6 days. Some comrades in the UK have begun an effort to do a paper version of this campaign, and will be inputting the signatures manually.

IndustriALL have decided to use a different campaigning platform for their upcoming Turkey campaign which looks likely to be a big one.

Working Women’s News Page:

This has been updated and promoted, and we’ve gotten several more volunteer correspondents as a result. The page is here: The next step, I think, is to create pages in languages other than English. Any suggestions for pages we should be linking to are most welcome.

Correspondents’ forum:

I’ve downloaded some forum software we haven’t used before and will begin setting it up in order to test it. Update coming soon.

Solidarity Retreat 2015:

I’ve arranged a meeting with the European Trade Union Institute on 7 April in Brussels; I hope to be able to nail down dates before then if possible.

New contact details:

We have a new generic inbox for LabourStart — [email protected]. Expect to see more and more of this address being used.

We also have a new mailing address:

Suite 504
394 Muswell Hill Broadway
London N10 1DJ


We’ve sent a long list of issues to Ning, which is the platform we use for UnionBook, and have gotten a detailed response today. One of our more enthusiastic UnionBook members has been working on this, but the site remains largely dormant, though it has 5,857 members.

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.