Category: News database

The last 16 days at LabourStart


We closed our Hungarian campaign after three months. We also closed our Iran May Day campaign, noting that all the jailed trade unionists we mentioned have now been released.

We publicized on social media a USW campaign supporting striking steelworkers, an IndustriALL campaign and an ITF campaign supporting workers at the port of Beirut.

We answered a request for help from a farm workers union in Honduras; we may launch a campaign on this.

We proposed launching a campaign in support of striking workers in the National Gallery in London to their union and PSI.

We publicized Unite the Union’s campaign targetting Pizza Express (UK) with a dedicated mailing to our UK list, and publicity on our news pages and on social media – on our initiative.

We did a dedicated mailing to our Australian list to support the AMWU’s Asbestos campaign – at their request.

I will be attending the FES conference on global labour campaigning in October in Berlin.

I began work on the code for our campaign page to compel users to enter a country and email address (for some reason this no longer works and some have made submissions with this field blank).

Mailing list:

We added 89 new subscribers so far this month.

Our Swedish list is now considerably larger as we’ve migrated hundreds of Swedes who were on our English list – back in the days when we didn’t regularly campaign in Swedish. It has grown from 387 in early July to 1,245 today. (The Norwegian list remains considerably larger at 2,763.)


We’re attempting to revive the Turkish home page; got one existing correspondent to commit to working on this.

We made a special effort to give comprehensive coverage of the London Underground strikes earlier this month, and promoted that coverage on social media.


We’re slowly reviving our partnership with unionized bookshop See our home page in English – with more to come.


We removed an old link (very prominent) from the top of our Working Women’s News page.

We contacted UNI about an application for membership from a Palestinian postal workers union.

2016 conference, new China campaign, and much more – a busy week

Global Solidarity Conference 2016:

We have a date and a venue, which I hope to announce in the next day or two.


The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has given us a campaign which will go live in the next day or two.
We’ve been in touch with a group that works to support Iranian political prisoners.
I did a followup mailing to build support for our current Iran campaign after it turned out that two of the prisoners have been released on bail.
Our campaigns interface has now been translated into Sinhala, a language spoken by about 16 million people.
We helped BWI with their FIFA/Qatar Thunderclap, boosting it substantially.
The link to show more campaigns on the Swedish campaign page was broken; I have now fixed it.
Our Berlin group now has access to add campaigns directly to our database.


I have begun fixing the redirect when you key in the URLs for languages like this: — they now go to the ‘news’ directory rather than the ‘2013’ directory, part of a long-term project to migrate everything over.
Small changes made to the Norwegian home page, at Espen’s request.
We’ve had a problem with the German interface to add news; I’ll be helping Gisela to sort this out.
We have a new search engine which I’ll deploy next week; it was set up in response to a request from a Canadian academic doing research on lockouts and works better than our current one.

London Hackathon:

On 12 June we’ve been invited to participate in this event, mentioned earlier (see my post from 14 May). I’ve done a short ‘shopping list’ of some of the many tech things we need help on. If any of you have any suggestions or things to add to that list, please let me know.

Books & Publications:

I’ll resume work on the 2016 Global Labour Calendar next week after a few months of inactivity.
20 copies of Dan Gallin’s Solidarity have been ordered for sale at Northern College in the UK this summer.
I’ll prepare a detailed report on sales in recent months in an upcoming report.


We’ve had another donation from a Norwegian union, and PSI has pledged £3,090.
I’ve begun contacting US unions one by one to get their support for the next year.
Our donations page is now translated in Spanish, and we did a mailing to our Spanish list (but with very poor results).


The British TUC has asked us to look into making our newswires secure (using SSL) so we’ve ordered this from our ISP. This will allow the newswire to appear again on some popular TUC sites, such as

Mailing lists:

We picked up 123 new subscribers this week, and 928 last week.

The month in review – December 2014

Next generation LabourStart

The number of users of our Android app in English, launched on 11 November, has grown to 587 (gained only 25 new users in December); the average reviewer gave it 4.88 stars. Our Android app in Esperanto, launched on 26 November, has been installed 17 times.

Our iOS app (for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) has just been approved by the Apple App store (we submitted it on 3 December at first) and will be launched in the next two days. This app was designed in Como, which we can use to create apps for both Android and iOS, and will do so.

We have received the translation for the Norwegian version of our apps and expect this go live shortly.

Tunis Retreat

We’ll have more to report on this throughout January.

A reminder was sent to all correspondents to respond to the pre-retreat survey; so far we’ve had 58 responses and will provide a full report soon.


We launched only two campaigns in December and closed one of them fairly quickly at the request of the union – these were the ones surrounding the jailing of Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros, and the other concerned Luis Isarra in Peru. The Peru campaign has generated only 5,634 messages of protest so far, while the Colombia campaign generated 7,450.

We closed three campaigns in December — Deva in Turkey, USA IKEA and the Colombia industrial accident campaign, which resulted in a big win.

At the moment, we are running only four active campaigns — and three of those will close within the next four weeks.

A trade union leader in Bangladesh has offered to translate our campaigns into Bengali; I have sent him the framework file to translate.

We launched our first Romanian language campaign, and mailing list.

Online campaigning course

The European Trade Union Institute has approved our proposal for a 3-day course on the subject of online campaigning, to be held in Germany in June. More details soon.


Our latest book, Dan Gallin’s Solidarity, is being translated into Russian by Masha.

I’ve signed a contract with Professor Joe Atkins for a LabourStart book due to appear at the end of 2015 about migrant workers. More details coming soon.


We received a generous donation from the Education International.

I wrote to all correspondents about the annual Svennsson prize which could be major boost to LabourStart if we ever win it.


We ran a mini-campaign to raise the issue of workers’ rights at Fairphone, which briefly got a lot of attention and a phone call from the company.


We learned (from Mahesh) that there was a problem with our code that allowed people to tweet any news story that appeared on LabourStart — if there was an apostrophe in the story title, it didn’t work. This has now been fixed.

I also fixed the drop down menu showing country names on the French language home page, and a couple of other small fixes to the page.

After 15 years, a new way to post news quickly and easily to LabourStart

bookmarkletPeople have been asking for something like this for a very long time.  Today I finally wrote the code to do it.

Login to post news as you normally would.  On the second screen, the one that’s entitled “Main Menu”, look at the text highlighted to the left.  The yellow arrow is pointing at it.

Drag the red box that says “Add2LS” up to your bookmarks toolbar.  (The bookmarks toolbar varies from browser to browser, but usually it’s the part of your screen immediately above the web page you are viewing.)

Leave it there — it will say “Add2LS”.

You only have to do this once.

Now, go visit a website that’s a source of labour news.

Find a news story you want to put on LabourStart.

Click on the “Add2LS” link in your toolbar.

And magic — you can begin adding the news story.

The link sits there permanently in your toolbar, and you never have to login again.

News stories always appear in one window (or tab) and the form in another so that you can glance back at the news story for stuff like the name of the publication, the title, and so on.

This should make it easier and quicker than ever for correspondents to post news stories.

Try it and let me know what you think — and how it can be improved.

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!


  • 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

Getting trade union news out to a much wider audience

facebook16twitter16Every news story on LabourStart, in every language, and even on our country and state/province pages, now has a Twitter and Facebook icon next to it. I completed the writing of the code for this today.  Click on the icons and you can tweet the story or post it to Facebook.  (You need to be logged into Twitter or Facebook to do this.)  This will (potentially) greatly expand the readership of these stories and provide a huge boost to unions trying to get their message out to an international audience.  Try it out!

The weeks in review – 1-10.1.14


  • 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.


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.


  • 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.


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 week in review – 11-17 September

Calendar: Sale of our LabourStart Calendar for 2014 have stalled — we only sold 18 in the last 6 days (of those, 8 were in Canada, 5 in Australia, 3 in the UK and 2 in the USA).  I’ve already done two rounds of publicity and today will be mailing to nearly 500 state federations of labor and central labor councils in the USA in an attempt to boost sales there.


  • August was an exceptionally slow month for us, so 5 days ago I wrote to all our campaign partners — GUFs and others — asking if anyone needed help.  We got answers from a number of them an expect to launch several new campaigns in the next couple of weeks.
  • Edd and I met with a leader of the UN staff union and they have been facing a brutal attack on workers’ rights from the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and will probably be needing a campaign from us in the next few days.
  • We closed down the Philippines campaign one month early (see below) and the GE Erie campaign one month late (at the request of the union).
  • We did a special mailing to our Canadian subscribers boosting a number of campaigns there (not all of these were hosted by LabourStart).

Intern: As I reported below, Edd is leaving us at the end of this month (though will continue working one day a week for LabourStart) and we’ve begun the process of recruiting a replacement.


  • The biggest improvement, described below, is that now you can get beyond the first 50 news stories on any of our country pages.   (This will soon work on our home pages in the different languages as well.)
  • I’ve also fixed a problem with links to the country names that were appearing on the home page in English — the first time the name appeared, the link would take you to our new, correct country news page, but the second appearance of the country name still took you to an old page.
  • With so much coverage of the British TUC conference last week, we did a special mailing to our UK list promoting the news page.  It’s very important that we continue to draw attention to our news service, as many of the people on our mailing list are familiar with our campaigns — but not with the news we provide.


  • As reported below, a correspondent can now change their default language and country — either temporarily or permanently.  This caused a small problem for senior correspondents, as Derek discovered, but this has now been fixed.
  • We’ve been struggling to make sure that we have current email addresses for all the correspondents and Edd has nearly completed this task.
  • This week, I resumed weekly mailings to correspondents and I intend to keep doing this.


  • Our failure to sustain LabourStart news in any Nordic language except Norwegian has been with us for some time.  This week, I wrote to all our subscribers on the English list from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden and have received responses from 10 of them — at least one has volunteered to be a correspondent, others have already contact their national trade union centres in the hope of growing interest in LabourStart.
  • Our French home page was the last one to be converted to our new format and this is now complete.

Kiev 2013: There will be a meeting of LabourStart correspondents from Russia, Ukraine and Georgia (and other countries?) in Kiev at the beginning of November.  Masha has drafted an invitation letter which I’ve read and approved, and Edd has found email addresses for all our correspondents from the region who have been invited.  I will be attending myself.

Berlin 2014: I’ve fixed a meeting at the ITUC in Brussels for two weeks from today to discuss how our conference ties in with theirs.  They’ve been exceptionally cooperative and this is hugely important for the success of our global solidarity conference.

Small screen version of LabourStart: Edd’s been working on a version of the site that will automatically appear when you view it on a smartphone, as we’ve done with campaigns.  This is nearly ready.

Daily tech tips for trade unionists: I  wrote ten of these which appeared over the last couple of weeks and got some nice and interesting feedback.  Would be interested to know if comrades would like this to continue.  Meanwhile, I’m pausing the effort.

Better late than never – easy access to older news stories

If you visit any of our country pages (e.g., the USA), you’ll now see at the very bottom, after the last story, a link for more news.
If you click on it, it will show you the next 50 stories, and then after that, another 50 stories, and so on.
At the moment this is only working on the country pages, but tomorrow I’ll aim to get it working on the home page in all languages as well.
We’ll also be adding Search once again to the site, but this new function — which took quite some time to get right — is a huge improvement over where we stood until very recently.