The month in review – November 2014

It’s been a very busy month for us at LabourStart, with progress made on several important fronts.

Next generation LabourStart

androidOur Android app was finally launched on 11 November, 19 days ago, and has over 550 active users at the moment. Nearly all the reviewers have given it five stars in the Google Play store, and all the written reviews have been positive. We’ve been answering comments and noting suggestions for improvement.

We have also launched (today) an Android app in Esperanto, and next week will launch the Norwegian version. We’ll be approaching translators for the major languages (French, German, etc) in the next few days.

We’ve purchased an annual subscription to use Como, which will allow us to quickly create apps for iOS as well as Android and we hope to have the iOS version of our app available soon.

If you’ve not yet downloaded the app for your Android phone, please do so today: English / Esperanto

Retreat in Tunis – 20-23 March 2015

The first 20 people have been invited to attend.

We’ve finalized a survey for all LabourStart correspondents. This should go out next week.

We held a Skype conference call with organizers from North America, Europe and Australia to discuss this.  And Eric and Gisela have had a couple of separate Skype calls as well to discuss.

Campaigns

stopwizzWe launched only one new campaign in November — in support of Wizz Air workers trying to have a trade union. After just four days it has 7,200 supporters and has already been translated into 14 languages.  If you’ve not yet done so, please sign up to the campaign and spread the word in your union.

We did a big second round of publicity for our Deva (Turkey) campaign, and have boosted it to more than 10,000 supporters.

We closed the following four campaigns (details in posts below): Thailand – Andy Hall, Poland – LOT, Netherlands/Belgium – IKEA, Israel/Palestine – Zarfati Garage.

We discussed doing a campaign in support of Palestinian public sector workers with PSI, but nothing came of it.

We supported the IUF campaign on McDonald’s Korea with a mass mailing.  With our help, that campaign is now up to 8,800 supporters.

We have been asked to help with campaigns in Georgia, Nepal and Iran — waiting for our partners at the moment.

Internationalization

Swedish: Espen and I visited Stockholm – see the full report below. There are now a number of recent Swedish language news stories on the site, and we continue discussions with Swedish unions.  All our campaigns and mailings are now being translated into Swedish.

Italian: We’ve revived our Italian language campaigns and mass mailings — after a gap of three months — and launched three of these in November.  We have around 30 volunteer translators at the moment, which is fantastic.

Finnish: One of our new correspondents in Finland has agreed to coordinate efforts there, so he’s been given the contact details for the other seven.

Esperanto: We’ve also resumed sending out mailings and translating campaigns in Esperanto after a long gap; our list there is now nearly 100 subscribers.

Radio Labour

We continue to work together. In addition to having a Radio Labour page in the app, we now feature the latest Radio Labour broadcast on our home page in English, just under the top news stories.

Today in Labour History

While the database in French is comprehensive, we’re still missing data in English for many days — can anyone help with this?

Starting in January, we’ll begin work on a printed 2016 calendar which we’ll want ready for sale by Labo(u)r Day in North America.

Online campaigning course

We’ve submitted a proposal to the European Trade Union Institute, at their request, for a 3-day course for European Trade Unionists which will take place some time in 2015. More details soon.

Five campaigns!

One new campaign, one coming up, and three closed — it’s been a busy week!

Yesterday we launched a new campaign in support of the workers trying to form a union at Wizz Air, at the request of the European Transport Workers’ Federation and the European Trade Union Confederation.

Soon, we will be launching a campaign in support of striking Georgian railway workers.

Today we’re closing the Andy Hall campaign which has resulted in a partial victory.  Here’s what the campaign sponsor, Owen Tudor of the British Trades Union Congress, has to say:

The campaign helped keep his case in the public eye and on the diplomatic agenda. Thanks to the support and high profile Andy has got, the EU embassies in Thailand have begun to press the Thai government to take steps to stop their courts being used to harass human rights defenders like Andy. And together with other campaigns run on other websites resulted in the Judge throwing out the first case against him and delaying the second case for several weeks. However, that case hasn’t been stopped, and there are other cases that will start soon, so the campaign will continue in other ways. So we may be back….

Last week we closed two campaigns.

The first, opposing ‘social dumping’ by IKEA in Belgium and the Netherlands, got 10,672 supporters, making it one of our largest campaigns.  But we don’t know yet what the effect was, as the union hasn’t gotten back to us.

The second protested union busting at Poland’s LOT airlines.  It got 8,586 supporters and we have a report from Kemal Ulker at the International Transport Workers Federation on its effect on the ground — the bottom line is that we’ve not yet won this dispute:

On 25 July 2014, the vice-president of the ZZPP, Andrzej Je?ewski was dismissed by LOT Polish Airlines.

LOT has a bad record of similar anti-union practices. Over the last five years, the airline dismissed eight trade union leaders.

The ETF Civil Aviation Secretary tried to talk the CEO of the airline with no avail.

On 4 August 2014, the ITF and ETF section secretaries sent a joint letter to the CEO, demanding the reinstatement of the dismissed union leader.

On 20 August 2014, in partnership with the LabourStart, the ITF and ETF launched the protest letter campaign.

On 21 August 2014, the ITF and ETF general secretaries set a joint letter to the President of Poland.

On 25 August 2014, the ETF sent a letter to the chief executive of the Association of European Airlines (AEA), Athar Husain Khan, to ask him to intervene with the management of LOT to establish good and fair industrial relations with the trade unions.

Similar letters have been sent to 47 European Parliament members, reminding them of the role of trade unions in regaining freedom and sovereignty, as well as the country’s obligations as signatory of ILO conventions, and asking them intervene with the Polish government to resolve the issue: http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/10835

On 1 September 2014, the ZZPP received a response from Grazyna Wereszczynska, Director of Citizen Letters and Opinions Office, informing us on behalf of Mr Komorowski that our letter had been referred to the Ministry of State Treasury. 

On 26 September 2014, we received a response from the CEO of LOT Polish Airlines, refusing to comment on the dismissal of Brother Je?ewski as there is an ongoing legal proceeding. However, in his response the CEO emphasised that Je?ewski’s dismissal was “strictly on the basis of the Polish Labour Code”.

 On 9 October 2014, the ITF and ETF section secretaries sent a joint letter to the Minister of Treasury of Poland.

 The Minister of Treasury of Poland responded saying they don’t deal with labour disputes and repeating LOT’s arguments regarding why Andrzej was dismissed.

 

Swedish LabourStart begins to take off

stockholmEspen Loken and Eric Lee spent two days in Stockholm this week as the guests of the the LO-TCO Secretariat of International Trade Union Development Co-operation to discuss the re-launch of LabourStart in Sweden.

Even though the Swedish labour movement is one of Europe’s most powerful (with well over three million members), LabourStart has never successfully been engaged there, and our mailing list is barely more than 200 (while in neighboring Norway, it’s nearly 3,000).  Early in the week we had 8 Swedish correspondents none of whom has been active recently.

The first day the Secretariat organized a two-hour workshop at the national headquarters of TCO, one of Sweden’s national trade union centers, which was attended by representatives of a number of unions including public sector workers and teachers.  As a result of that meeting, six new correspondents were signed up and the unions renewed their commitment to translating and promoting LabourStart campaigns.

The following day, Espen and Eric met with several staffers at LO (the other big trade union center) to discuss cooperation.  One idea which was floated (no commitments here yet) was to host the next (2016) LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Stockholm following the LO conference in May-June, which will also be attended by a number of international guests.  Yesterday afternoon, Eric had further meetings at the Secretariat and with staff at the food workers union.

As part of the process of reinvigorating our dormant Swedish site, we’ve had to make a number of tweaks and improvements to the site.  Meanwhile, our small Swedish mailing list has started to grow, picking up 10% more subscribers in just the last two months.

Our new app – a best-seller, almost

In the last three days, 83 people have started using our new Android app, and 6 of them have reviewed it — and all 6 reviews gave it five stars.

In the Google Play Store, our app ranks 21st on the list of “Top New Apps” for the category “News and Magazines”. 

I’ve not yet done the big publicity mailing, which should reach about 10 times as many people as the publicity so far, so with any luck, we could pick up another 830 new users as a result of this.  This would push us toward a goal of 1,000 users of the app as soon as possible.

Here is what I’d like you all to do:

  • If you’ve not yet downloaded the app, and you own an Android phone or device, please do so today.
  • If you’ve downloaded it but not yet posted a review, please do so.
  • If you’d be interested to help with translations of the app into other languages, please let me know.
  • If you have any skills with app development, especially for other platforms (e.g., Apple iOS), please contact me.

Thanks!

The next generation of LabourStart is here – download it today!

If you have an Android phone or tablet, you’re invited to be among the first users of our new app, which you can download from the Google Play store:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/next

After you’ve installed it, please try out all the features.

If something’s not working or can be improved, please email me ([email protected]).  Constructive criticism is most welcome!

If you’re happy with our app, please post a review to the Google Play store and give it a high rating.

And of course — please spread the word in your union!

(This is the English version of the app; versions in other languages coming out soon.)

New Canadian Edition of Our Guide to Global Labour Coming

A couple of weeks ago I met with the International Development Working Group of the Canadian Labour Congress.  The senior staff doing international work from all the major unions (and a few smaller ones) form the Working Group.

There was unanimous agreement to move forward with producing, early in the new year, a ‘Canadianized’ version of the the book.  I’ll keep you posted as things develop but it seems to me that once a readability edit is done of the existing GUF and other global institutions sections and a couple of missing GUFs are added, all that will be needed to produce a series of national versions of the book are some pieces solicited from unions and central labour bodies.

My hope for the Canadian edition is that each union will commit to buy a certain number of copies for their internal use.

As a (useful) aside, I have been able to locate a unionized printer in Toronto that offers a ‘print-on-demand’ service with products certified as union-made.

Derek Blackadder – Canada

LabourStart at Halifax (Canada) Conference

I was invited to do a workshop a week ago on doing international work at the local union level and how it can help internal organizing and strengthen a local union.  The workshop was part of the annual ‘Troublemakers Conference’ which the Halifax Labour Council (a regional body composed of local unions affiliated with almost all the national unions) holds each year.

The event was aimed at activist workplace level leadership.  There were about 70 activists at the conference; 10 in my workshop.  It was well-received by the organizers of the conference and by the participants.  The conference organizers didn’t have the money for my transportation but I was able to use my frequent flyer points and to stay with friends in the area.  I had also hoped to use the trip as a chance to connect out in meatspace with a few of our volunteers in the Halifax area but had a cold and spent time in bed instead.

The ‘Troublemakers Conference’ concept flows from the American labour magazine Labour Notes and these conferences are being run in a growing number of locations in the USA and a few in Canada.  The Labour Notes folks loosely co-ordinate the conferences and make suggestions for content.  We may see some further invitations as a result.

One small note: a conference like this would have been ideal for selling our calendar. These events, where we can have a display and where the calendar can be properly viewed, have always sold out.  If or when we produce another calendar I’m thinking we might want to maintain a small inventory in Canada.  In the worst case scenario I would look at sending them out sometime in April or May as a thank-you to some of our supporters and volunteers.

If anyone wants to see the workshop outline or to use it in your neck of the woods, just let me know.

Derek Blackadder – Canada

LabourStart in Numbers – October 2014

This is a short report – sorry. Only mailing lists this month.

We’ve seen substantial net growth to the English list, picking up 477 new subscribers this month.  Significant growth for our Turkish list too, with 199 new subscribers. The Spanish list grew by 50. The other lists either shrank, stayed the same size, or grew by considerably less.

Growing lists are shown in green; shrinking lists are in red. The previous month’s total follows.

Mailing lists – with 200 or more subscribers :

English: 85,672  – 85,095
French: 8,166  – 8,152
German: 5,503  – 5,502
Spanish: 5,328 – 5,278
Italian: 4,097 – 4,124
Turkish: 3,579 – 3,380
Korean: 3,080 – 3,080
Norwegian: 2,804 – 2,807
Russian: 2,468 – 2,480
Dutch: 1,675 – 1,687
Chinese: 1,106 – 1,106
Polish: 752 – 752
Finnish: 687 – 686
Japanese: 483 – 483
Arabic: 463 – 463
Portuguese: 353 – 353
Indonesian: 343 – 344
Hebrew: 266 – 267
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 242 – 242

The month in review – October 2014

This report will be brief, but I hope I’ll be covering all the highlights of the month.

Next generation LabourStart: Our Android app is ready, and I’m making some final tweaks before submitting it to the Google Play store and elsewhere, and then publicizing it widely. I do think this is a huge step forward for us, we’ve gotten good feedback from those who’ve seen it, and mobile apps like this one are increasingly going to be our main platform.

2015 Retreat: We now have an organizing committee of 7 people, and have been putting together the basic elements. We’ll have a Skype conference call in November and will begin inviting people then.

Campaigns: We only launched two campaigns in October (as compared to 5 in September) — for the trade union at WIPO (5,813 supporters) and for workers at Zara in the USA (5,004 supporters). More campaigns are on the way, including another one from the ITF.  We gave a lot of help at the beginning of the month to IndustriALL, which was doing a Thunderclap on precarious work.

Fundraising: Some good news this month as the National Executive of Unison in the UK votes to give us £3,000 and the Norwegian union Industrie Energie votes to donate $5,000. In addition, Kevin Curran’s marathon run for us generated £1,202 (71 individual contributors).

Internationalization: We’re doing a lot of work to make sure the languages we campaign in and post news in stay alive, even when individuals who were doing the work drift away.  Big efforts were made to recruit new correspondents in Denmark and Finland this month with good results in the latter country.  Italian remains our biggest mailing list that is not getting regular mailings, so we appealed this week to our entire Italian list producing dozens of volunteer translators.