Report on the LabourStart Retreat in Brussels last month

This report was drafted by Martina and edited by Eric. Comments are open — please feel free to make comments and ask questions below.

The LabourStart Retreat had the character of a working meeting. Presentations by Dan Gallin, Martina Hartung, Eric Lee and Gisela Neunhoeffer prepared the basis for discussions and we worked concretely on specific subjects in working groups or in a World CafĂ© format. This mix of presentation and discussion enabled the successful integration of all participants on all subjects and the result wasa detailed and concrete future action plan. Unfortunately, one speaker had to cancel due to illness in the short term. Besides that, there weren’t any further changes to the program.

At the LabourStart Retreat 24 trade unionists from Europe, Canada and Australia attended; including nine women. The global trade unions were represented as well as national trade unions and long standing LabourStart activists as well as new activists. Five participants were under 35 years old.

The focus of the discussions at the LabourStart Retreat was primarily on questions about the future of online campaigns in the context of global trade union movement and on the future structure of LabourStart as an international trade union platform.

The news platform was discussed in detail. The focus was on technical aspects, design, the focus on contributions from the Anglo-Saxon areas as well as the network of correspondents. The discussion then focused primarily on the key areas of activity for a user-friendly website and platform for the correspondents.

In the discussion about the online campaigns the strength of LabourStart was emphasized with its focus on a narrow trade-union-specific audience. However, the analysis also showed that the number of participants of the English mailing list has stagnated in recent years. In addition, the cooperation with the Global Union Federations with regards to preparation and follow up of the campaigns was discussed. The fact is that the success of a campaign depends on cooperation with the partner unions.

The participants in the retreat agreed on the uniqueness and importance of LabourStart and in the future of LabourStart this very strong LabourStart profile and matching strategic online campaigns will become more important.

Retreat participants were particularly positive about the idea of ??offline groups (local LabourStart groups), which was discussed. The pioneering work has been done by the Berlin Offline group. It turns out that it is a essential to have a self-concept of Labour tart, which the local groups have to agree on and support. Within this framework it will be possible to combine online campaigns by Labour Start with local actions in the future, e.g. actions in front of corporate headquarters or embassies. Furthermore, offline groups provide the opportunity to create international networks of trade unionists.

Structural issues were discussed. All participants agreed that future work should be shared on several LabourStart activists’ shoulders. With regards to closer cooperation with the trade unions and especially with the global unions we established an Executive Committee. This decision-making body represents on the one hand the most active regions, on the other hand, this committee provides a structure for sustainable future work.

During our discussion on fundraising for LabourStart the participants in the retreat decided to keep the previous structure. The participants agreed to keep LabourStart’s autonomy. A working group will continue the discussions on fundraising and work on concrete actions.

The Executive Committee chosen consists of Eric Lee (founder), Derek Blackadder (Canada), Andrew Casey (Australia), Espen Loken (Norway), Gisela Neunhoeffer (Germany), Kirill Buketov (Russia) and Silvana Penella (Italy). The Executive Committee represents LabourStart to the trade union world and on the other hand, it coordinates the work of the new working groups.

The following working groups were formed on the LabourStart Retreat and staffed with people: (1) Fundraising, (2) Web page (3) Labour Start Conference 2016, (4) Own editorial contributions, (5) News Service, (6) Publications, (7) International support for trade unionists in jail and (8) Campaigns.

The next steps for LabourStart include the relaunch of the website, the strengthening and expansion of the content, including our own news report, and the concrete support for trade unionists in jail. It will also be important to strengthen online campaigns and growing the mailing lists. LabourStart not only needs more people in its active network and therefore will target young people and women, but also needs more people who use the news website and participate in the online campaigns. For these issues strategies will be developed, actions implemented in the respective working groups in the future.

The redistribution of responsibilities within the Executive Committee and working groups put some women in some first place positions of responsibility in LabourStart.

Written by admin in: 2015 Retreat |

1 Comment »

  • If the site is to be overhauled, maybe we could use the gettext system to make it more easily translatable.

    Comment | November 25, 2015

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