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 – 12-19 July


We closed two campaigns last week – the very short Bangladesh campaign which did flood the labour minister with messages and for which the ITUC was grateful, and the Mitsui Vancouver port campaign, which had run for the full three months.  We launched two new campaigns together with the ITF and IndustriALL on India and the Philippines.  Meanwhile, our newly-globalized Canada campaign is well above 9,000 messages sent.


We’re proceeding at a good clip with the research and writing of our third book this year.  More details at the end of August.

Sales of the first book (campaigns) rose substantially from just 7 sold in July to 32 (including 15 distributed at the Global Labour Institute summer school).  Sales of the second book (global labour movement) rose in July from 11 to 31, also including 15 at the GLI event.

2014 Conferences:

There’s been a draft paper written about the Vancouver (Canada) conference to be held in the fall of 2014.  And a small organizing committee is to meet in August in Berlin to make further plans for the May 2014 conference there.


Unite the Union, Britain’s largest, made a substantial donation, as pledged.  The total amount donated to LabourStart in July is £3,549.


We now have campaigns in Hindi — something we’ve been planning for 5 years and now finally realized.

We’ve also decided to focus much more on the languages where we already have substantial mailing lists, but for which we do not always have translations of campaigns and mailings.  The top five language priorities for us are English, French, Spanish, Italian and Turkish.  We’re working to make sure that the top 10 languages, all of which have mailing lists of 1,000 or more, are translated for each campaign, and a mailing done each time.  (The other five languages — also very high priorities for us — are German, Norwegian, Russian, Dutch and Chinese.)

Meetings in the real world:

Edd attended the GLI summer school and wrote up an account (see below).
Eric had a meeting with Elizabeth Tang, head of the International Domestic Workers Network and we discussed many potential areas of cooperation.


Summertime and the living’s easy …


Eric will be travelling with very limited Internet access from Thursday, 25 July through Sunday, 11 August, and again from Thursday 22 August through Tuesday 27 August.

For all LabourStart matters, please write to eddmustill@labourstart.org.

All requests for new campaigns will be received by him.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |

Our first campaign in Hindi

Our Maruti Suzuki campaign is now available in Hindi, thanks to contacts in IndustriALL who did some translation for us.

This means we can begin to create an email list in this important world language and hopefully translate future campaigns as well.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Report back from the GLI summer school

Edd attended the Global Labour Institute’s (GLI) International Summer School at Northern College, UK, last week. Here’s a short report back and some thoughts from a LabourStart point of view.


The theme of the school was ‘the political agenda of the international trade union movement’, and most sessions were bound together by the idea that we need to put socialism back at the heart of the labour movement. Among the 100+ participants, 21 countries were represented and there was a good mix of ages and experience – most, but not all, of the younger trade unionists came from here in the UK. In this country, the sort of labour-internationalism pushed by the GLI is a very necessary counterweight to the prevailing internationalism in the unions, which too often goes no further than whether or not your branch is affiliated to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign…

One of the recurrent themes of the school was the increasing prevalence of ‘precarious’ work across all sectors of the global economy, which is making the establishment (or re-establishment) of collective bargaining more difficult. Some unions are beginning to rethink and reshape their structures to deal with this, aiming to bring these workers into the movement. Comrades from the global south made the point that what we call precarious and informal work has been the norm in their countries for decades or longer. It struck me throughout the week that unions in the ‘West’ probably now have more to learn from these comrades than to teach them.

The school was marked by a genuine atmosphere of open debate – on issues like the re-emergence (or not) of the WFTU, for example. A South African comrade whose union is not affiliated to the WFTU nevertheless said he could understand why other unions were attracted to it, given the lack of political lead from the ITUC. A live video Q&A session with Sharan Burrow from the ITUC on the Thursday showed a fair amount of dissatisfaction with the organisation, particularly from young people. There were also differences of opinion, for example, on how the All-China Federation of Trade Unions should be approached (if at all) – a comrade from Hong Kong was fairly optimistic about the chances of workers democratising it by mass pressure from below, even if this takes several years.

There was a really interesting session with a critical assessment of the ‘organizing model’ of trade unionism. This is being questioned in the US now, not long after it has started to really take root in other countries. The gist of the discussion was that the practice of setting up organiser training academies has its advantages, but is in danger of creating an insular group of professional organisers within the union, rather than equipping, for example, shop stewards, to take on organising work themselves (although this is made difficult by a lack of facility time, etc).

There was only one significant potential contradiction I saw in the politics of the event: everyone wants a strong independent union movement with explicitly socialist politics, but also a ‘broad alliance’ of unions and civil society groups against the effects of neo-liberal capitalism. My worry is that, at least in this country, the ‘broad alliance’ language is often cover for the further watering down of the unions’ politics. This is an issue which I don’t think is being adequately addressed yet in debates within the movement – can we place unions at the head of such an alliance and keep good politics? If so, how?


Obviously there’s a lot of crossover between LabourStart and the GLI in terms of the people involved. Quite a few LabourStart correspondents were there, particularly from the IUF millieu, and the British trade unionists present had generally heard of us and were in many cases on the mailing list. We made a new contact from IUF India who may be able to help us out finding volunteer translators for Indian languages, which would fill a huge gap in our global campaigns. Gisela, who has been helping out organising the Berlin 2014 conference, and I also had a discussion with Dan Gallin who gave us some ideas about what sort of sessions we could run in Berlin next year, particularly with regard to the Eurozone crisis and the union response to it. I also gave 15 copies of each of our books to people who had expressed an interest in us and the work we do.

I think we should make a big effort to involve some comrades from the global south in the Berlin conference, as well as trying for a balance of male/female speakers. There are a couple of speakers from the GLI event that Gisela has already talked to about Berlin 2014, or will shortly.

There’s a lot more I could mention – feel free to ask anything in the comments below or email me at <eddmustill@labourstart.org>


Written by admin in: Events |

Bangladesh campaign – closed

At the request of the ITUC we’re closing the Bangladesh campaign after just 11 days and 6,472 messages sent.

The government passed a labour law that wasn’t entirely to our liking, but our campaign did have an effect.

According to our source, “the labour minister himself mentioned to me how many emails he had received when I saw him last week”.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Third campaign in 10 days – Maruti Suzuki


This is a big one — hundreds of workers jailed, a mass hunger strike about to begin … Please support it and help spread the word: http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1889

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Another union leader killed in the Philippines – new LabourStart campaign launched

Let’s try to make this one as big as we can, even if summer campaigns (here in the northern hemisphere) are notoriously hard to do …

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

The week in review – 6 – 11 July


At the request of the ITUC we launched a campaign in support of labour law reform in Bangladesh. It will not be live for very long. After 6 days online the campaign has 6,143 supporters in 8 languages.

We also turned our Canadian brewery campaign into a global one, and it now has 8,365 supporters in 3 languages. The IUF is supporting this one.

We’re going to launch two new campaigns (one is definite, one is a maybe) tomorrow — in support of Maruti Suzuki workers in India, and to protest the killing of a trade union leader in the Philippines. We’re working with the ITF and IndustriALL on this.

At the request of the IUF, we promoted their Mondelez Lebanon campaign to our English list and via social media. It shot up from 4,007 to 6,464 supporters in just two days.

In our campaigns, we added a new feature — a link to the Radio Labour report or interview linked to the campaign. You can see this on the right side of our campaigns pages.

And as “Select a country” had become one of our most popular countries for campaign supporters, I’ve now deleted this option which so many people were accepting as the default.

LabourStart books

We now have the beginnings of a rudimentary Publications page on our site, This will be tweaked and improved and probably moved off Inside LabourStart. We’ll be adding reviews as we find out about them.

I met with co-author Jeremy Green to make final plans for one of our next two books, about Firefox OS as a tool for social change. I’ve been writing a lot of text for it, and we hope to have it ready for sale by early September.

We’re still hoping to publish a selection of Dan Gallin’s writings as well, so 2013 should see at least 4 LabourStart books published.

Sales remain sluggish, with only 7 copies of the campaigning book and 11 copies of the global labour movement book sold by CreateSpace this month.


Our July 1st appeal to readers did not produce the results I’d hoped for, in part because it’s July, and in part because we allowed donations only in British pounds for the first few days.

That’s now been corrected and the donations page works in six popular currencies.

The total raised from the 19,962 campaign supporters so far has been £1,843.72.  This is less than half what we raised in April.

We received a donation from the Lipman-Miliband Trust (yes, that Miliband) and commitments from the IUF, Unite and the RMT.


We recruited 4 new Italian correspondents in an effort to revitalize our Italian news page, following a mailing to our entire Italian list about this.


New campaign launched – Bangladesh

This campaign may be live for only a couple of weeks – but it’s hugely important.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

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