Raising money for LabourStart – reaching out to a wider audience

SECOND & FINAL UPDATE FOR TODAY: After 6 hours the total is £661.42; this does not include a number of people who requested details for bank transfers. 

How does this compare to previous efforts?  As I wrote in January: “In the first few hours of our quarterly fund-raising appeal, we’ve raised over £1,500. We’ve had 35 donations so far in 5 different currencies, and pledges of more to come.  By comparison, in our previous appeal (October) we managed to raise £2,985 in the first 3 days — and £2,188 of that in the first 21 hours. In July we did poorly, raising only £1,844 in the first 10 days online. And last April we raised about £4,050 in the first week of the campaign. So it’s a good start …”

UPDATE: After 1 hour, we’ve gotten the message translated into 2 more languages (German and Hebrew), so it’s gone out to 90,117 people.  Of those, 16 have already responded and donated a total of £145.77.  There were several requests for bank details for bank transfers, and at least two of the donations were the first of new monthly payments.

For the first time in a very long time we’re reaching out to all of LabourStart’s 120,000+ supporters in a fundraising appeal, which is going out today.

All of our recent appeals have gone out to “power users” — people who’ve signed up to several of our campaigns — but this time, we’re reaching out to everyone on our list (pretty much all of whom will have been campaign supporters).

Please do what you can to spread the word and encourage your union to make a substantial donation to LabourStart.

Here is the text of the appeal:

The first three months of 2014 have been a very busy time at LabourStart — and we expect things to get much busier in the next three months.
In just a few weeks, we’ll be holding our largest and most ambitious Global Solidarity Conference ever, in Berlin.
We launched new campaigns in support of sacked call center workers in Morocco, garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia, public sector workers in Peru, pilots at Russian airline Aeroflot, Colombian union leaders facing attacks, and jailed trade union leaders in South Korea.  We ran a short and successful campaign demanding that charges be dropped against trade union leaders in Fiji.
We participated in, and covered for labour media, the trial of public sector workers in Istanbul.
We published a second book in French (on the global labour movement) and are preparing our fourth book in English, which we’ll launch at our conference in May.
We have new editions of LabourStart in Hungarian and Hindi.

We’re just about to launch our web app — allowing you to view LabourStart on any smartphone or tablet.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point.
LabourStart has become an invaluable resource for the international trade union movement.  
But it costs money.  We pay rent for an office in London, employ a small staff in the UK and in Germany, and have mounting expenses maintaining our websites and mailing lists.  
Obviously we get no money from big corporations and governments.  We rely on you, the people who support our campaigns, who understand just important our work is.
I’d like to ask each of you to consider donating at least $25.00 US (£15.00; Euros 18.00).  If you can give more, please do.  Whatever you can afford will be appreciated.
Please click here to donate — and then please share this message with your fellow union members.
Thank you very much.

Written by admin in: Fund-raising |

The weeks in review – 17-28 March

Technical innovations: This week we made two technical steps forward. The first is a web app for smartphones and tablets that’s now been tested on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry smartphones and seems to work. The second is our own URL shortening system (like or that allows us to create addresses like

Berlin conference: The number of registrations continues to grow — we’re now up to 494, up 46 in the last 11 days. The number of German participants (crucial if the conference is to be a success) is up to 103, a gain of 12 in this period. We’re currently working on sending visa invitation letters to several dozen registrants who requested it, sorting out solidarity housing for those who can’t afford the hotel or hostel, building the nearly 50 workshops that are planned, getting speakers for all 3 plenaries, organizing the Saturday night party, raising the money to do all this, and much more. The organizing committee in Berlin is growing and meeting regularly. There’s an international Skype conference call each week that Eric, Tom, Gisela and Derek have been holding as well. We have less than 8 weeks to go …

Campaigns: We haven’t launched any new campaigns in the last couple of weeks, but our Casablanca campaign is going quite well and we think we’ll get one of the five sacked call centre workers to come to speak in Berlin. We had a big surge in supporters for our Rana Plaza campaign yesterday after announcing that a couple of companies had agreed to pay compensation. We promoted — for the first time — our new social media links on the campaign page, and this has generated a number of Facebook likes (1,187) and Tweets (185) for that campaign. Not surprisingly, the links to promote campaigns on Google+ and LinkedIn are proving far less popular. We closed our Kazakhstan campaign a few days ago as well (see report by Kirill below).

News: A couple of weeks ago we had only 76 active correspondents (out of some 700); following my appeal to them to get more active, we now have 99 active ones, who have posted 5,003 news stories in March — an average of 179 news stories every day this month, with each correspondent contributing an average of 51 stories, or nearly two per day. The most active correspondents in March were (in order): Derek Blackadder (Canada), Andrew Casey (Australia), Andy Funnell (France), Roy Nitzberg (USA), Patrick Craven (South Africa), S. G??bi?ski (Poland), Efraim Davidi (Israel), and our intern, Tom Harris (UK).

Prizes and competitions: LabourStart has been entered into three international competitions the results of which we will know within a month. See below for details.


At long last, LabourStart is now ready for the smartphone

iphone5The last time I wrote about this was some six months ago.

At the time we were struggling to create a version of LabourStart that would work on phones — this after several failed attempts to create native versions for iPhones and Android phones and later even for Firefox OS.

But today we have finally got a working version of LabourStart for the hundreds of millions of people who access it on smartphones.

You can see it by going into your web browser on your smartphone and going to

That’s right — no change to the URL.

It’s using a form of “responsive design” so that it detects whether you’re using a large desktop computer or a tiny smartphone, and renders the correct version.

What you should see is something like what I’ve illustrated this article with, above.

To get this to appear on your phone’s home screen, follow the instructions.

On an iPhone or iPod Touch, tap on the ‘Add to home screen’ link in your browser.

You should then see this icon appearing on your phone’s home screen:

The next step is to internationalize this, as for the moment it’s only working in English.

We also need to test it on all kinds of phones.  It seems to work fine on Apple and Windows devices, but it would be good to test on Android, Blackberry and Firefox phones too.

We’ll also need to write up instructions to people on how to install it, as it’s not a native app you’d download from the iTunes Store or Google Play — it’s a web app, so it downloads differently.  We may even want to do this as a short video.

And we’ll want to tweak it even more, making it look less and less like a web page, more and more like a proper app.  We may even want to break it up (it’s now a long scroll) into separate pages for news and campaigns.

I look forward to reading your feedback and learning from your experiences before we introduce this to the wider world.

Written by admin in: Mobile |

Another way LabourStart can be useful – a request from lawyers in the USA

supreme_court_buildingWe’ve recently received this request from a lawyer (who we knew years ago as a labour movement activist):

“You may or may not have heard that about a year ago, the US Supreme Court gutted an important US law, the Alien Tort Statute, that we had been using for international human rights cases against US companies. Our area of law is now in flux, and US corporations have an incredible amount of impunity for harm they do overseas. We are looking for new cases to test out new legal theories. Since you receive reports from around the world of the sorts of violations that could form the basis of a test case, I thought you might be able to keep an eye out for potential cases for us. The ideal test case would involve a US company and a relatively egregious harm (so for example a factory fire in which people died or were seriously injured, where the factory supplied to a US company). The stronger the connection to the US company the better, as ultimately we need to sue a US-based defendant. … [we] would have the opportunity to be a part of re-establishing mechanisms for international corporate accountability in the US.”

I’ve asked around and everyone I spoke to thought we should help.  So I’m appealing today to all LabourStart correspondents to keep an eye open for this sort of thing and let me know when they find something.  We’ll review this again in two months to see if we’ve come up with anything worthwhile.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |

Our very own link shortener – and why it matters

When we promote LabourStart campaigns on Twitter and elsewhere, we often need to shorten the link so that it will fit.

For example, we take this link to the current Morocco call centre campaign —

— and we shorten it using to this —

We’ve done this for years, and it’s a great tool.  (We’ve used alternatives to as well, including tinyurl.)

But there are a couple of downsides:

First, the URL created is not instantly memorable, nor would you want to say it aloud at a public meeting, or radio interview or over the phone.  (Just try saying “”.)

Second, to do this, we rely on external hosts — which we do not pay for — to relay our traffic.  So far we’ve had no problems with this, but it would far better if there were a way to do this on our own server.

In other words, LabourStart could use its own URL shortener.

And now we have one.

Thanks to the people who wrote YOURLS I’ve now been able to create these shortened URLs easily: -> -> ->

And we’re not limited to campaigns.

For example, correspondents who want to login to post news now have to key in this:

This is easier to remember, and shorter:

So, LabourStart now has its own URL shortening system.  And here are the advantages:

  • Easier to say.
  • Easier to remember.
  • Fits better onto a tweet.
  • More secure and reliable than an external host.
  • And finally, preserves our branding — labourstart instead of
Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Followup to our Kazakhstan campaign


Kirill Buketov writes:

Labourstart is closing its fourth on-line campaign in support of Zhanaozen workers. This campaign was launched on the birthday of Rosa Tuletaeva at the World Human Rights day on December 10, 2013, was run by Labourstart correspondents in 17 languages and became one of the largest in Labourstart history by gaining support of 11,399 activists around the world. This was a strong message to Kazakhstan authorities, which played important role in their decision to transfer Rosa from prison to a settlement colony in January 2014. As long as the workers activists still detained, the struggle for their release will be continued, we will re-launch the campaign after a short break.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Are we feeling lucky?

We never actually win anything, but in recent weeks we’ve submitted LabourStart to three different competitions.

The first and most important is the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights.  Every year we’re a candidate but we’ve never won.  There were 14 nominations this year and the committee will announce a winner on 25 April. The prize is NOK 500,000 (approx. EUR 63.000 / USD 84.000).

Second, this year we entered a new competition, the Care2 Impact Award.  The prize is £500 and the winner will be announced on 10 April.

Finally, we’ve pitched LabourStart this year to win the Why I Chose .org prize for $5,000. The winner will be announced sometime after 31 March.

Written by admin in: Fund-raising |

We close another campaign: Kazakhstan

More than 3 months after launching this important campaign, we’ve now closed down the Kazakhstan: Free jailed oil workers campaign.

The campaign was our third-largest current campaign, with 11,399 supporters in 17 languages.

It was the most languages we had in our current campaigns, and possibly the most ever.

We’ll report back once we’ve heard from the campaign partners what effect, if any, the campaign had.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

The week in review – 8-17 March 2014

Berlin conference: We’re up to 448 registered participants from 68 countries, a gain of 28 in the last 10 days. (We now have 91 from Germany, a gain of 7.) We’re all working on a wide range of issues now, including the conference party on Saturday night, plenary speakers for all 3 plenary sessions, getting visa invitation letters, getting all the workshops set up, and much more. There’ll even be a conference poster!

Campaigns: We launched one new campaign in the last 10 days in support of call center workers in Casablanca; it’s done very well and after just four days, is already larger than the three previous campaigns. With just under 7,000 messages sent already, it looks poised to be our 4th largest current campaign (out of 10) sometime soon.

News: I’ve written to nearly 600 LabourStart correspondents today asking for their help to put more news up. Of the more than 700 correspondents we have, only 76 have posted news so far this month. A number have already written back promising to post news, or asking for new passwords. There’s now a big yellow ‘Add news’ button on the home page in English — this allows correspondents to quickly add news, for new people to volunteer to be correspondents, and for one-off submissions of news.

New languages: We’re just about to do our first campaign in Hungarian.

Books: Our next book (by Dan Gallin) will be ready for sale at the conference in May. We did a lot of work last week formatting it. It’s currently running at 423 pages, but we might shorten that.

Labour History: I’ve fixed the entry form so it’s now working correctly and we can add more dates to our online calendar. There’s now a list of French language entries in the database.


New campaign launched in defense of sacked call centre workers in Morocco

This campaign is a joint initiative of the Moroccan union UMT, UNI Global Union and the Solidarity Center.

Let’s promote it widely, get it translated into many languages, etc.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

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