We publish our first book since 2014 – and it’s a great one

We’re reviving our publications programme with four new books in the pipeline, and that will just take us through the winter.  This is an ambitious plan and we’re starting off with a great one, with huge potential interest from the labour movement and others.

The first book of this new season is The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Workers Movement, edited by Joseph B. Atkins.  This 136 page book offers readers compelling insight from 10 writers around the world (including LabourStart’s Eric Lee) about migrant workers’ rising consciousness of their rights and ability to assert those rights in a global economy that seems to place all power in the hands of mega-corporations. From tobacco workers in North Carolina to Vietnamese domestic workers in Taiwan and the network of organizations that support them, a movement is emerging that will pose a growing challenge to neoliberal rule.  The book costs just $9.99 and is available from Amazon and most bookshops.

Order your copies here: http://www.labourstart.org/go/strangers  And please – post reviews of the book on Amazon and elsewhere.

Spread the word!

LabourStart in Numbers – June – December 2016

Some highlights:

* Note that this report covers a six month period as we missed our September report.
* Good news on traffic to the website – very big gains in traffic to both the news and campaigns sites. Over 61,000 unique visitors to news site was a gain of nearly 50% compared to the first half of the year.There was an even bigger gain for the campaigns site.
* There’s been a very significant growth in interest in our news site in India.
* While most of the mailing lists either stayed the same size or shrunk, the Portuguese language list stands out for having grown by 36% in the last half year. Also our Brasilian presence on Facebook has shown enormous growth.
* Once again, the Canadian Twitter feeds in English and French have grown dramatically, while the USA Twitter following remains quite small.
* Of the five top campaigns in this half year, two came from the International Federation of Journalists (our first campaigns ever with the IFJ) and three of the five are currently active campaigns.

Mailing lists

English: 86,697 – 88,242
French: 8,929 – 8,791
German: 5,997 – 6,021
Spanish: 5,525 – 5,531
Turkish: 4,314 – 4,268
Korean: 4,170 – 3,965
Italian: 4,021 – 4,044
Norwegian: 2,681 – 2,701
Russian: 2,444 – 2,449
Dutch: 1,720 – 1,774

Swedish: 1,242 – 1,235
Chinese: 1,112 – 1,112
Polish: 798 – 798
Portuguese: 647 – 475
Finnish: 638 – 687
Japanese: 518 – 518
Arabic: 418 – 478
Indonesian: 346 – 346
Hebrew: 284 – 296
Tagalog: 254 – 254
Farsi: 231 – 242


UnionBook was closed in 2016.

Linked In

LabourStart group: 2,044 – 2,012


Union group on Flickr: 821 – 806


Correspondents: 845 – 826

LabourStart.org (news)

Unique users – 61,279 – 41,506

Top countries (by sessions):

USA 23% – 23%
Canada 14% – 15%
UK 13% – 12%
India – 6%
Australia 5% – 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

Home page – English 51,618 – 34,337
USA – English 21,045 – 8,294
Canada – English 10,210 – 6,297
India – 11,069 – 1,807
Home page – Norwegian 4,091 – 2,746

LabourStartCampaigns.net (campaigns)

Unique users – 56,270 – 37,851

Top countries (by sessions):

UK 15% – 16%
USA 13% – 14%
Canada 9% – 10%
Germany 5% – 7%
Belgium 5%

Most popular pages – page views:

South Korea: Release jailed trade unionists, respect workers’ rights – 8,969
Iran: Freedom for teacher union leader Esmail Abdi – 8,940
Korea: Don’t let Han’s death be in vain – 8,659
Turkey: Press freedom is essential for democracy, set journalism free! – 8,651
AFP: Demand fair terms for freelance photographers – 8,153


English: 16,922 – 16,188
Canada English: 6,404 – 5,661
Canada French: 1,633 – 1,071
USA: 639 – 608
Italian: 475 – 458
Indonesia: 365 – 368
Swedish: 374 – 356
French: 230 – 225
Portuguese: 191 – 92
German: 92 – 91
Spanish: 71 – 73
Japanese: 21 – 22
Russian: 18 – 18


Like LabourStart.org page (English): 11,990 – 10,528
Members of LabourStart group: 8,388 – 8,521
Friends of LabourStart Brasil: 3,232 – 1,681
Like LabourStart page (French): 551 – 535
Like LabourStart page (German): 478 – 472
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 177 – 175
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 155 – 155
Members of LabourStart Vostok (Russian): 89 – 109

Esmail Abdi’s long struggle for justice

esmailEsmail Abdi, a leading Iranian teacher trade unionist, was the subject of two LabourStart campaigns in the last year, the first one after he was blocked from attending a congress of the Education International (EI) in Canada.

This week we’ve launched a third campaign at the request of the EI now that he’s been sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Here are the results of those campaigns:

  • July 2015: 12,698
  • February 2016: 6,307
  • November 2016 (so far): 4,367

Please take a moment to spread news of this campaign in your country and to your unions — especially teachers unions.  Thanks.

Meet our new interns

Meet John and Eda.
Meet John and Eda.

LabourStart has hired two new interns.  I asked them to say a few words about themselves.

Edanur Yazici:

“I’m very excited to be joining the LabourStart team. I have been an active member of a small union, the IWW for some time and I am currently serving as a local branch officer. I look forward to be able to put the skills I have gained there to good use at LabourStart. My academic background is in Politics and I have a fair bit of experience in various grassroots campaigning organisations and movements.”

John Millington:

“I am proud to be working with LabourStart. I am a former national newspaper journalist, health campaigner and currently a union activist. I am looking forward to using my skills and seven years experience to promote workers’ rights throughout the world.”

Talking with Belgian transport workers – and looking back at an old campaign

ABVV/BTBToday I’m in Mechelen, a town in between Brussels and Antwerp, where I was invited to speak with a group of about 35 members of the Belgian transport workers union BTB/ABVV.

Two years we ran a campaign with them against “social dumping” by IKEA, which was replacing unionised Belgian truck drivers with workers from Eastern Europe at much lower wages and with no social protections.

I get to speak to trade unions quite a bit about online campaigns, but in this case I was able to speak a bit about that campaign which we did, how it turned out, and what we can do together in the future.  I thought this part of my talk may be of interest to you:

The campaign was one of our larger ones, attracting 10,672 supporters.

It ran in 15 languages – translated by volunteers at LabourStart. Of course it ran in all the usual European languages including English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

But it also ran in Norwegian, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Slovenian and Ukrainian. And because workers outside Europe should also oppose social dumping, it ran in Indonesian and Hebrew too. It was even translated into Esperanto, the international auxiliary language.

It got support from all over Europe and all over the world – 1,456 people in Britain, where I live, supported it. 1,332 Americans signed up. It got over 1,000 Canadians and over 500 Australians too. The English version of the campaign got the support of 320 people in Belgium and another 309 in the Netherlands.

Nearly 550 people supported the Dutch version of the campaign and well over 1,000 supported the French version.

These are good numbers, but they also show that within the Belgian and Dutch labour movements, awareness of the campaign was quite small. The campaign had more support from Canadian workers than it did from Belgian workers.

And that is what we have to change.

We now have tools to mobilise the tens of millions of people in the international trade union movement, but we must first learn to mobilise our own members.

Next time, we must do better.

What was the result of this campaign?

We have not yet won. There have been ongoing negotiations with IKEA, involving BTB, the FNV and a Swedish trade union working together. A meeting took place in September with IKEA’s world-wide HR person. Unions continue to tell IKEA to either work with us to stop social dumping, or we will bring this to the attention of the media.

The struggle continues. Maybe we will have to do another campaign.

Major new campaign on Korea

hansangyuThis was launched today with the support of the ITUC and most of the GUFs.

It’s not our first campaign about Korea, but it’s an important one and I hope everyone reading this will make a special effort to mobilize support in your union and your country.


From campaign drought to campaign flood

flood-vs-droughtCampaigns seem to be seasonal affairs; there are months when we have almost none, and other times when we need to launch several campaigns at almost the same time (which is a pretty bad idea).

Today we’re in the process of launching two major campaigns — one in support of health care workers in Liberia whose leaders languish in jail; the other in support of the jailed leadership of the South Korean labour movement.  Both campaigns are supported by a wide range of powerful international trade union bodies and, I hope, will gather lots of support.

In addition, we’re expecting a major campaign in support of Turkish journalists — so three new campaigns, probably all being launched this week.

This places an exceptional burden on our volunteer translators and I’m doing what I can to space the campaigns apart, and to encourage our partners to supply us with very short texts — with only limited success.

Meanwhile, our latest campaign (in support of Egyptian shipyard workers) is doing quite well, coming up on 7,500 supporters. I’m hoping that at least one of the three campaigns we’re about to launch can break the 10,000 barrier — but this depends in large part on how much our partner unions help us to promote it.

Why our newest campaign is also our largest current campaign

Some campaigns just take off.  Our campaign in support of the shipyard workers in Alexandria, Egypt is one of these.  After just one week online, it’s already almost (and by the time you read this, it will be) our largest current campaign, rapidly nearing 6,000 supporters.  Why is this the case?

Actually, there’s no mystery here: the main difference between this campaign and the campaigns in support of teachers in Ecuador or photographers at AFP is that this campaign appears in German.  We have a number of languages, German among them, for which we have substantial mailing lists, but where not all our campaigns get translated.  For example, we have 5,700 people on our Korean and Dutch mailing lists — but our campaigns are rarely translated into those languages.

There was a time when the only list that mattered was the English one, but that is no longer the case.  30% of the supporters of the current Egyptian campaign are doing so in languages other than English.  Of the three most recent campaigns, this is the highest percentage of non-English supporters, and it will probably grow when we launch the Spanish version later today.

So it’s becoming increasingly clear that for our campaigns to be much larger, we need to translate them into more and more languages, and in particular German, Korean and Dutch.  And those lists need to continue to grow.  Something to keep in mind.