I’ve been late with an update because of a family vacation, but here’s a brief update on the last 26 days at LabourStart. Continue reading
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
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 (unionbook.org) 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.
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.
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 Powells.com 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.
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
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
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 LabourStart.org 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
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
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
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).
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 Powells.com. 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.
Our Turkey campaign (SF Leather/Mulberry) with well over 9,000 messages sent, is now our third largest current campaign, having displaced the Malaysia forestry workers’ campaign. We’ve finally seen an increase in the number of supporters from Turkey itself, with 299 supporting the Turkish-language version of the campaign and another 120 people from Turkey supporting the English version.
In the next five days I expect to close two campaigns launched in early May — in support of workers in Hungary and Iran. Both campaigns attracted fewer than 7,000 supporters each, while all the campaigns since then have been considerably larger. Our current Iran campaign, for example, is 78% larger than the one we launched in May.
As a result of these campaigns, our mailing lists continue to grow. I just added 195 new supporters to our lists, with 144 of them going to the English list.
We publicized the IUF’s latest campaign (hotel workers in Myanmar) both through our Facebook page and group, and in a mass mailing. Following our mailing, the number of supporters for that campaign has nearly doubled.
There had been a problem when we posted a link to one of our country news pages (e.g., Canada) on Facebook. We had no control over the image that was shown, nor was the text particularly suitable. These have now been fixed.
We’ve been approached by the Palestinian postal workers union who are asking for our help in getting connected internationally. I’ve passed this on to UNI and we’ll explore helping them make links directly with postal workers unions in different countries.
The last seven days at LabourStart …
SF Leather/Mulberry: I sent out a followup mailing to the 70,000+ people on the English list who didn’t open last week’s message. This added a considerable number of new supporters. The campaign is now up to 8,432 supporters. Due to the very low response to our first appeal in Turkish, we drafted an entirely new appeal and sent that out as well. Still, response rates in Turkey remain low, with just 131 supporters for the Turkish language version of the campaign (plus another 90 supporters of the English campaign from Turkey). I have consulted our Turkish comrades and we are discussing why this is happening and what we can do about it.
Esmail Abdi: This remains our largest current campaign, with 12,252 messages sent so far. The Canadian teachers-initiated Thunderclap was successful in the sense that it reached over 330,000 people, but it generated very few new supporters for the campaign. This confirms previous experience with using Facebook and Twitter to promote campaigns — their impact is much less than you might think, and email remains a far more powerful tool. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use social networks — of course we should; in fact, we’re posting more content than ever before to Facebook, reaching a larger audience.
IUF SABMiller campaign: Following the company’s attempt to block messages, we did a mailing to encourage support this IUF campaign.
Translations: I’ve improved an online form I created some time ago which will make it easier and quicker to deal with submitted translations of campaigns (where the translators are unable to upload the campaigns themselves). We’ll start using this from the next campaign we get.
We continue to pick up many new subscribers due to the campaigns. A couple of days ago, I added 256 new subscribers — including 44 new ones for our Turkish language list.
We now have a Sinhalese list, but only one name on it for the moment.
Our Norwegian language app for Android is now available in the Google Play store.
We’ve had 3 large donations from Canadian unions in recent days.
We launched a new campaign in support of workers at SF Leather in Turkey, suppliers to the luxury British handbag company Mulberry, who are fighting for the right to join a union. Within 24 hours, the campaign was in six languages and had over 5,000 supporters.
We also launched a new Canada-only campaign in support of striking municipal workers in Hay River, Northwest Territories. They’ve been on strike for more than five months and need all the help they can get. If you’re reading this, feel free to sign up to support them — even if you don’t live in Canada.
Our campaign in support of jailed Iranian teacher trade unionist Esmail Abdi is our largest current campaign, with just under 12,000 supporters. I had a meeting with an Iranian human rights activist and we discussing deepening our cooperation. LabourStart is apparently quite well-regarded in these circles and there is much we can do.
It turns out there will be no need for us to a campaign in support the jailed LabourStart correspondent in Transnistria; according to reports we’ve received, he has now been released.
There remains the possibility of a campaign in Germany; a member of our Berlin group is looking into this.
Our mailing lists grew today as we added 246 new supporters, mostly for the English list.
The campaign to free Esmail Abdi, the jailed Iran teacher trade unionist, is now the largest current LabourStart campaign, with 11,401 messages sent in the last 12 days. (The runner-up is the China campaign, live since 1 June, but with only 10,293 messages sent.) There’s been considerable interest shown by some teachers’ unions, especially in Canada, and we’ve made a determined effort including followup emails to our lists.
One of the more unusual tactics this time has been to write to people on the English list who come from non-English-speaking countries and to send them the mailing in their own country’s language, to see if they’ll respond to that and therefore strengthen those lists.
The Abdi campaign message was therefore sent out to people on the English list who may want to be on the Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Czech, Turkish, Swedish and Dutch lists. There were over 5,000 of these. The number of Swedes on the English list exceeded the number of people on the Swedish list, and there were over 1,000 people each from Spanish-speaking countries, Norway and Turkey on the English list, all of whom got mailings in Spanish, Norwegian and Turkish.
In addition, our tiny Hindi list (just 31 names) is being strengthened by a mailing to the more than 840 people from India on our English mailing list.
The overall result of these efforts, including the rapid growth of the Abdi campaign, is that we picked up a net gain of 1,449 people to our lists — the vast majority of them in English.