LabourStart in Numbers – June 2010

The last month saw another big net gain for our mailing lists – especially English, French, and Spanish.  We have now topped 70,000 subscribers to the lists.  And we’re getting close to 800 correspondents, 99 of whom posted news in June.  I’ve added Google’s stats for absolute unique visitors, which shows a decline compared to May.  Here are the totals with the changes since the end of May in brackets:

  • Mailing lists – subscribers: 70,464 [+1,254]
  • LabourStart’s English language mailing list: 57,153 [+1,182]
  • Absolute unique visitors according to Google: 39,510 [-4,714]
  • UnionBook – members: 4,650 [+87]
  • Facebook – members of LabourStart group: 3,438 [+222]
  • Twitter – followers: 2,228 [+57]
  • Correspondents: 785 [+14]
  • Union group on Flickr: 556 [+4]
  • LinkedIn – members of LabourStart group: 180 [+9]

Some highlights from the mailing lists — the other large groups are:

  • Norwegian 2,699 [+23]
  • French 2,064 [+147]
  • Spanish 1,174 [+127]
  • German 792 [+31]
  • Italian 505 [+31]
  • Russian 415 [+20]
  • Turkish 316 [new]
  • Polish 302 [+4]
  • Portuguese 235 [+6]
  • Swedish 228 [+2]
  • Dutch 224 [+9]
  • Chinese 166 [new]
  • Danish 162 [+5]

Quick updates after a week’s vacation

Now back at my desk, our conference only 11 days away, and I’ll post some updates on what I’ve been up to here:

  • Closed down the Guyana campaign after more than 3 months, at the request of the ICEM.  This campaign had 2,685 supporters in the end.
  • The Polish language RSS newswire seems to be working again – getting this confirmed.
  • We now have a conference poster.

Fourth weekly podcast – this time about LS itself

My fourth weekly podcast is on the subject of how we post labour news to LabourStart — comparing what we do to automated news aggregators like Google News.  I think correspondents will find this of interest.

Meanwhile, listenership of my podcasts is rising from week to week.  The first three podcasts had the following total number of listeners:

  • Geocities and Facebook [11.6.10] – 555 listeners
  • LabourStart’s Global Solidarity Conference [4.6.11] – 255 listeners
  • Twitter [29.5.10] – 30 listeners
Written by ericlee in: Radio LabourStart |

Coming soon: Campaigns in Korean, Arabic

Thanks to the efforts of our friends and comrades we should shortly be launching some of our campaigns in Korean and in Arabic.  As Arabic is estimated to have anywhere between 150 – 250 million native speakers, and Korean to have 60 – 78 million native speakers, these are hugely important developments.  More details coming soon.

Written by ericlee in: Campaigns,Internationalization |

How LabourStart differs from Google News

In the course of updating LabourStart news this morning I stumbled across the incredible story of 3,500 miners in Peru standing up to an American-owned company, blockading roads, confronting police and troops, risking their lives to save their jobs.

And it reminded me of how we gather news, and what we do with it, and why LabourStart’s news-gathering is so different from automated news aggregrators like Google News.

First of all, we can use human intelligence to follow a story by first searching on obvious terms like “strike”, but then focussing on the name of the town (La Oroya) and the company (Doe Run).  And we can tell what’s a credible news source (AFP) and choose to lead with that.  And we know to search immediately to see what the relevant global union federation (ICEM) is doing.  And when we see that it doesn’t have anything yet on its website, we can write to them to point this out.

There are already reports of some injuries in La Oroya, which can lead us to escalate our coverage, to try to get statements from other mining unions, to involve NGOs like Amnesty International, and if needed, to launch an online campaign.

These are just some of things that make our news coverage different because we’re activists and trade unionists with experience and knowledge — something that no press clipping service, however sophisticated, can offer.

Written by ericlee in: News database |

Old campaigns

Three old campaigns have reached their “sell-by” date and I thought I’d let you know how we cope with this.

The Seher Tumer campaign (Turkey) has been extended a bit due to the very late translation into Turkish.  We want to give the Turkish comrades a chance to show their support.

The union in Guyana asked us today if we could extend the campaign, and I agree to do so for a month.

And I’ve just written to the UE asking if we can now suspend the 3-month old Mexico Pemex campaign.

All the other campaigns are two months old or less.

It’s not always easy to determine who is actually responsible for a campaign as sometimes we’re approached by several different GUFs or national unions and NGOs, and then when we do identify who’s in charge, getting agreement to close a campaign down is not always easy.

Still, it’s important that we do this, as we want to keep our (very long) list of active campaigns short and up-to-date.

Written by ericlee in: Campaigns |

Friday updates in brief

  • We’ve launched a new campaign in support of striking Dis-Chem workers in South Africa.  A campaign in support of Mexican workers in Cananea may come online next week; we’re liaising with ICEM about this one.
  • We now know for sure of over 100 people attending our conference — with two thirds of them having paid registration fees in advance.
  • My latest Labour and Technology podcast is now online, here.
Written by ericlee in: 2010 Conference,Campaigns,Radio LabourStart |

Campaign season

We can go for weeks without getting a single request for a campaign, and then all at once everyone has an urgent action for us.  Today we’re likely to push three different campaigns on three continents:

  • In Europe, a union in Turkey is asking for our help — and the ITF is encouraging us to be involved.  (I have just learned that the ITF has created the campaign on its website – so we will be linking to that.)
  • In Africa, we’ve once again been asked by SACCAWU to help out in a dispute with a company.
  • In Asia, we’re been approached a number of times around the arrest of a Thai labour activist.  The Clean Clothes Campaign has already launched this as an online campaign so we need only link to them.

And within the last ten days, we’ve launched our Apple/Foxconn campaign in China and at the request of the IUF asked people to support their West Bengal (India) tea workers campaign.

And these are only the campaigns that we’ve agreed to help out with … there are others that we say no to.  (E.g., the teachers union in Michigan and our comrades in Poland.)

Increasingly we’re forced to refuse help on the grounds that we need to stay focussed on workers rights — dealing with jailings and killings of trade unionists in particular — and cannot take up every difficult employer, for example.  It’s not always easy to make these decisions.

In light of this, I suggest we consider adding a sentence to what we have published online.

Here is what we currently say:

LabourStart runs online campaigns at the request of trade unions around the world. Our preference is for campaigns to be submitted by global union federations, national trade union centres and national unions, but will in some circumstances accept campaigns from local and branch unions. We do not normally accept campaigns submitted by individuals or NGOs which are not unions. Campaigns which would benefit from global exposure and support are more likely to be approved than campaigns that will be of no interest outside of your locality or country. Our campaigns run for three months and if the issues are not resolved by then, LabourStart reserves the right to suspend the campaign. Unions which request campaigns from us are expected to keep us updated and to promote the campaign to their own members and others. We never charge unions for running these campaigns and the service will always be free.

I suggest that we add:

Campaigns which focus on violations of workers’ rights are more likely to be adopted than campaigns in support of everyday issues which arise in relations with employers, such as problems negotiating a collective agreement.


Written by ericlee in: Campaigns |

Conference countdown [updated]

Our conference is now 34 days away.  We have 204 registrants of whom 58 have paid their fees — for a total of C$8,252. The conference website is now located here.

I have spoken about the conference in my weekly “Labour and Technology Podcast” – click here to listen.

Written by ericlee in: 2010 Conference |

Donations continue to come in

I’m pleased to report that the five weeks since we launched our May Day appeal have seen a real outpouring of generosity by unions and individual trade unionists.  The total raised so far has been £10,594, donated by 148 unions and individuals. The largest donations were:

  • £2,943 – CFMEU (Australia)
  • £1,298 – USW (Canada)
  • £1,177 – NSWTF (Australia)
  • £1,010 – Individual donor (USA)
  • £851 – SAK (Finland) – invoiced
  • £347 – PSI (global union federation)
Written by ericlee in: Fund-raising |

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