Workshop Invitations Picking Up in Canada

In addition to doing a series of sessions for Unifor, the largest public sector union in Canada, we’ve also recently done a session on LabourStart itself at union conferences in Alberta and New Brunswick and just received an invitation to do a session on international work for the Halifax Labour Council in late October.

I don’t know quite why this surge in interest but I suspect it has something to do with some generational turnover in mid- and senior-level trade union leadership. The people now moving into those positions have kinda grown up with LabourStart.

In any case, so far we’ve been able to say yes to all the requests.

 

Derek Blackadder

LabourStart in Numbers – August 2014

This is a much-shortened version of the monthly report, as it’s already mid-September and due to my holiday, the report had to be delayed.  So this time, it’s just focussing on the 20 biggest mailing lists.  Growing lists are shown in green; shrinking lists are in red.  The previous month’s total is in brackets. The third number — in italics — is where we stood one year ago.

The following lists have gained 1,000 or more new subscribers (net) in the last 12 months: English, French, German, and Korean.  In the same period, the Polish list has nearly tripled in size, and the Indonesian list has more than doubled.

Mailing lists [with 200 or more subscribers]

English: 85,611 [85,191] 81,907
French: 8,188 [7,917] 6,443
German: 5,529 [5,376] 3,312
Spanish: 5,279 [5,234] 4,905
Italian: 4,124 [4,098] 4,017
Turkish: 3,454 [3,450] 3,283
Korean: 3,080 [3,080] 154
Norwegian: 2,853 [2,839] 2,433
Russian: 2,505 [2,514] 2,051
Dutch: 1,691 [1,378] 1,377
Chinese: 1,106 [1,106] 1,011
Polish: 734 [640] 282
Finnish: 684 [655] 577
Japanese: 483 [483] 334
Arabic: 463 [451] 313
Portuguese: 353  [353] 248
Indonesian: 338  [325] 153
Hebrew: 265 [248] 215
Tagalog: 254 [254] 254
Farsi: 242 [242] 207

Summer’s over — three campaigns in one week!

Luis Cardenas - beaten up for his trade union activity.
Luis Cardenas – beaten up for his trade union activity.

UNI has given us this campaign — we’re beginning publicity today.  It involves the defense of trade unionists facing physical violence for their union activities — always a top priority for us.

We’ve also been asked by BWI to help promote their new campaign supporting forestry workers in Malaysia.  We’ll get the word out about that today.

Finally, IndustriALL is likely to be asking us to do a campaign in support of a worker in Colombia who’s been engaged in a 13 year battle to get compensation after a workplace accident, and who recently attempted suicide.

Run, Kevin, run!

Snowdonia Marathon 2010

UPDATE – 10 September 2014: Following a mass mailing to the English list and publicity on social media yesterday, we’ve raised $1,194 (£741) from 43 donors — a good beginning.


 

For the first time ever, someone has suggested that they run a marathon on behalf of LabourStart — and what a marathon this is.  

Kevin Curran, former general secretary of the GMB, one of Britain’s largest unions, who is currently chair of the central London hotel workers branch of Unite, is the runner.

And the race is the Snowdonia Marathon, held on 25 October, and is considered one of the most difficult races in the UK (it encircles the highest peak in England and Wales).

Click here to make your donation and spread the word:

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

The month in review: August 2014

Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.
Goodbye, Lee Valley Technopark.

August was NOT a quiet month for LabourStart.

I guess the big news is that I have completed the move from our Tottenham Hale office to working at home. The office was finally emptied and the keys returned yesterday. This will not only mean a considerable savings (over £6,000 a year) but we will also get back a deposit of £1,470 soon.

That money will help to re-fill our coffers following several months where we spent considerably more than we took in, reducing our reserves by many thousands of pounds. But there’s been good news in the last few days. We were able to raise nearly $600 from UnionBook members to pay for the hosting on Ning for the next year — that’s the full amount we need. The IUF has once again made a substantial donation to us. Norwegian unions will apparently be transferring a good sum to us very soon. And the Geneva-based FDHT is resuming its donations to us conditional upon us continuing with the project to grow LabourStart in the Portuguese-speaking world (more on this soon).

It’s been a very busy month for our campaigns — we closed just one (Gaza, following the agreement to a cease-fire) and launched five new ones:

  • Palestine/Israel – against union-busting in Mishur Adumim
  • Swaziland – prime minister threatens to strangle trade union leaders
  • Belgium/Netherlands – against social dumping at IKEA
  • Poland – LOT sacks union leader
  • Thailand – Drop the charges against Andy Hall

In addition, I made three improvements to our campaigns – offering an alternative option for some cellphones; a new supporters count for closed campaigns; and a form for translators to submit campaigns. Details on all these appear in a post below.

We ran a promotion offering free versions of our Kindle books for the first 5 days of August. A total of 2,442 books were downloaded — the most popular of which was Dan Gallin’s Solidarity (696 copies). I followed up with over 1,500 people who seemed interested in the books, asking them to post reviews, but with very limited success.

In September, I’ll be helping to teach a course in Hattingen, Germany organized by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) together with the DGB. This should help introduce LabourStart to union communicators across Europe. This will be followed up in October by my session at a Brussels workshop of ETUI on campaigning. ETUI is also now considering a proposal to host a course dedicated to online campaigning which LabourStart would teach.

3 improvements to LabourStart campaigns

Several people have complained that they were unable to fill in our campaigns on their mobile phones.  We were not able to reproduce the problem, but as it kept coming up, we have to assume that certain phones under certain circumstances will have an issue.  As a result, there’s now a fairly prominent link on the English campaigns to a page that according to 3 people who tested it, does work.  All the campaigns in other languages use that same page, so no one should have issues other than English speakers, and it was fewer than 10 people reporting the problem.

A comrade at a British trade union pointed out that you can no longer see how many supporters we had for a campaign that’s been closed.  This has now been fixed — see, for example, our recent Gaza campaign.  If there’s no campaign total, there’s a link to click on to generate one, as needed.

Finally, I’ve long wanted to create a proper system for our volunteer translators to submit their campaign translations.  Some of them — a minority — go directly into our system and add campaigns.  But most still send on campaigns by email, often as attached Word documents.  Some of the translators continue to translate too much — including bits of the interface that are already translated.  Some try to embed photos or change fonts, when this is already part of the built-in interface.  It’s not clear to some of the translators what’s optional (e.g., the default message to the target).  And sometimes the translations come through and it’s not clear to me what’s what (especially in non-Latin character sets).  That’s why I’ve introduced this.  (Feel free to have a look, but do NOT submit a translation.)

Our third Polish campaign goes live today

This really is a coincidence, I think.

After years of almost no contact with the Polish labour movement, we now find ourselves hosting three campaigns in defense of workers in Poland:

Mass mailing is going out soon …

Amazon reviews: an update

Sales of our four LabourStart books (both paperback and Kindle editions) depend in part on there being positive reviews on Amazon’s websites.  

Our recent effort to promote the book resulted in just five days in 2,442 downloads and hundreds of new readers.

But these have not generated new reviews, despite my mailing earlier this month to the 1,537 people who clicked on links in the previous mailing promoting the free Kindle edition — even though 830 of them opened that message and 88 clicked on the links to review the book on Amazon.

Despite that effort, the total number of reviews remains tiny.

Having checked Amazon’s 12 websites today (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, India and Japan) here are the total number of reviews:

  • Firefox OS – 8 reviews
  • Global Labour Movement – 6 reviews
  • Campaigning Online and Winning – 5 reviews
  • Solidarity – Dan Gallin – 4 reviews

The largest number of reviews appears on the amazon.com website (13 reviews), followed by UK (6 reviews), Canada (2), Germany (1), Spain (1).

No reviews of our books appeared on the Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Japan or Italy Amazon sites.

By comparison, a friend of mine recently self-published a little novella on Kindle.  His book has 27 reviews.  The reviews of all 4 of our books together is just 23.

If anyone has any good suggestions for how we can increase the numbers here, I’d love to hear them.