Sep
13
2019
1

We continue upgrading our lists and site – and search for a union-friendly web browser

The last four weeks have seen some of us on vacation for part of that time, but here’s a summary of what was happening on LabourStart since mid-August.

Campaigns: We closed three our our campaigns which had been active for three months or more – in Poland, Pakistan and the Philippines. A new campaign has been proposed by trade unionists in Jordan – details coming soon. We also had appeals from Chile and Trinidad which we are following through on. We suggested a Hong Kong campaign to one of the global union federations but haven’t yet heard back. We assisted the IUF by extensively publicising their Karachi campaign.

Mailing lists: Persistent issues with our hosting of Sendy have now largely been fixed. We also looked into an alternative way of doing this using our own server. We ran into some issues now that we use CloudFlare to protect our site — it was briefly not possible for us to mass mailings, but we eventually fixed this.

Site re-design: Now 21 of our languages are showing the home page in the new format; we will make an effort to complete this project in the next few weeks.

Looking for a union-friendly web browser: As part of our ‘Activists’ Toolboxes’ that we’ve included in recent mailings to our English list, we’re probably going to promote one or more alternative web browsers. We wrote to three likely candidates asking about unionisation in their companies, but only one wrote back and we’ve asked them to post their statement (which is not bad) on their website. Until they do so we won’t do anything further. We didn’t ask Google (who own the Chrome browser) for obvious reasons

In the previous Activists’ Toolboxes we promoted two to-do lists (Toodledo and todo.txt) and a webmail service (Fastmail). Over 300 people checked out the former and 290 the latter. Let’s hope in doing this, we are helping some trade union activists to work online more efficiently — though of course we’d love to see higher numbers than these.

Donations: We received several large donations from Canadian unions.

Aug
18
2019
0

August is never a quiet month for LabourStart

August may be quiet month for many of us in the northern hemisphere, but it’s also a chance for LabourStart to make some big changes to how we work and how our site looks.

Probably the best news of the month was the decision by the government of Kazkakhstan to release jailed trade union leader Erlan Baltaby. Our campaign played a major role in putting pressure on the government to do that. The campaign had 7,070 supporters and appeared in 18 languages. We followed up on this victory with a mailing to all our lists encouraging our supporters to sign up to the other ongoing campaigns.

Meanwhile, the campaign we launched on 25 July in support of municipal workers in Alia?a, Turkey, now has over 6,600 supporters and appears in 17 languages. One of those languages is Azeri, the first time we’ve campaigned in that language. Our Turkish comrades have prepared banners and signs with LabourStart’s logo which they have used in their protests.

We launched a long-awaited new home page design for LabourStart on 1 August, first in English, and as of today, 12 of our languages now use this. They are migrated over one by one, in order to take into account the different features which appear on each language’s home page (e.g., links to unions, the mailing list signup, and more). We will followup with redesigns of the country and state pages as well to conform to the new design.

One of our ongoing problems — for several years now — has been a lack of consistent translations of our campaigns into German. Not only is our German language mailing list one of our largest, but it is also one of our most active — we get a very high response rate from mailings to this list, when we do them. Early in August we did a mailing to everyone on that list discussing this problem and as a result, almost 70 volunteers came forward to translate our campaigns. All of our current campaigns now appear in German and we have translated nearly all the mailings as well.

We’ve begun letting our readers know about some of the tech we use at LabourStart, and began in July with the “Activists’ Toolbox” in one of our mailings, promoting the use of Fastmail, particularly for those who use web-based tools like Gmail which do not respect the privacy of users. Of the 11,768 people who opened the message, just 288 clicked on the link to learn more about Fastmail. If you any ideas about other software or services we might want to promote, let us know.

Those mailings are all done now using Sendy instead of MailChimp, with a considerable cost savings for LabourStart. We’ve been learning as we go along and did our first successful segmentation, allowing us to mail to Canadians, and also to people who didn’t open our previous message. We have, however, had some problems with adding new subscribers in bulk, and have raised this with the company which is hosting the lists for us.

We also resumed using Cloudflare ten days ago, which protects LabourStart against distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks — and much more. One of things it does is that all our pages are now secure, with the URLs beginning https. This means browsers will no longer warn visitors that our site is insecure. (We had resolved this years ago with the campaigns website, but not the news one.) There are still some teething pains: Sendy sends its messages through Amazon Web Services which, among other things, verifies us as the sender and this broke when we moved over to CloudFlare. We are in the process of resolving this now (it’s all about something called DKIM — look it up).

And while on the subject of tech, we managed to fix a few scripts including the one that shows our active campaigns, and the translations dashboard, to work correctly in Unicode. This means no more gibberish onscreen when using non-Latin alphabets.

Aug
12
2019
0

LabourStart in Numbers – 1 February – 31 July 2019

In this report, which covers the last six months or so, I’ve added a new feature at the very top — the numbers regarding our campaigns. These numbers, important though they are, do not reflect the success of those campaigns. Some of the smaller ones actually achieved good results, while larger ones had little impact in some cases. In any event, please note that we’ve not run a campaign for some time that got more than 10,000 supporters — and we should aim to achieve that again, and soon.

Our mailing lists continue to shrink thanks to GDPR, and of the large lists, only the Turkish one has experienced any growth.

On social media, we’ve seen very small growth in our presence on Facebook, but some very good growth in some of our Twitter feeds. This is particularly evident for our global Spanish and Portuguese feeds, and our Australia and Canada feeds.

The first number below is today’s count, the second is from six months ago.

ActNOW campaigns

Currently active global campaigns

Pakistan: Reinstate the Karachi Eight – 7,489
Philippines: Holcim workers demand justice – 6,507
Turkey: Reinstate municipal workers in Alia?a – 6,390
Poland: Hutchison Ports must reinstate union activist Marek Szymczak – 6,288
Cambodia: Solidarity with workers at the West Mebun temple – 5,573

Other campaigns closed in 2019

Canadian Postal Workers Forced Back to Work, Supporters Jailed – 8,875
Turkey: Release jailed construction workers – Ensure occupational safety at Istanbul Airport – 8,800
China: Release Jailed Labour Rights Activists Exercising Rights to Freedom of Association – 8,559
Kazakhstan: Stop repression and physical attacks on leaders of independent unions; hands off Larisa Kharkova, Erlan Baltabai and Dmitriy Senyavskiy – 8,508
Philippines: Teacher unionists under threat – 8,130
Guatemala: Union leaders imprisoned for having negotiated a collective agreement – 8,128
Thailand: Olympic 2020 partner Mitsubishi Electric humiliates workers – 7,798
Iran: Stop jailing teachers now – 7,671
Thailand: Union leaders sacked, fined for demanding rail safety – 7,494
Hungary: Stop the slave law – 7,288
Kazakhstan: Erlan Baltabay sentenced to 7 years in prison for union activity – 7,070
Jordan: New labour law must recognise workers’ rights – 5,472
Korea: Stop the Outsourcing of Danger – Justice for Kim Yong-gyun! – 3,983
Jordan: King must reject flawed labour law passed by Parliament – 3,539

Mailing lists

The top 10:

English: 76,387 – 79,891
French: 8,277 – 8,531
German: 5,940 – 6,065
Spanish: 5,164 – 5,228
Turkish: 4,266 – 4,243
Korean: 3,742 – 3,791
Italian: 3,563 – 3,663
Russian: 2,694 – 2,725
Norwegian: 2,481 – 2,553
Dutch: 1,597 – 1,638

The others:

Swedish: 1,080 – 1,098
Chinese: 1,026 – 1,037
Arabic: 954 – 957
Portuguese: 866 – 849
Polish: 680 – 713
Finnish: 532 – 538
Japanese: 421 – 446
Indonesian: 394 – 395
Ukrainian: 296 – 247
Hebrew: 251 – 257
Farsi: 218 – 218
Georgian: 217 – 217
Hungarian: 185 – 178
Tagalog: 175 – 203
Esperanto: 175 – 179
Thai: 154 – 64
Danish: 81 – 83
Czech: 71 – 71
Greek: 57 – 57
Romanian: 39 – 41
Hindi: 37 – 37
Vietnamese: 25 – 25
Bulgarian: 18 – 18
Slovakian: 15 – 15
Creole: 12- 12
Sinhalese: 1- 1

Social media

Facebook

Like LabourStart.org page (English): 12,986 – 12,835
Members of LabourStart group (Global Labour News and Information): 8,631 – 8,629
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 2,256 – 2,314
Like LabourStart UK page: 2,097 – 2,075
Like LabourStart page (French): 585 – 581
Like LabourStart page (German): 502 – 495
Friends of LabourStart Brasil: 481 – 468
LabourStart TV: 420 – 404
Like LabourStart page (Hebrew): 156 – 157
Members of LabourStart Vostok (Russian): 114 – 111

Twitter

English: 22,578 – 21,374
Canada English: 10,547- 9,578
USA: 4,822 – 3,584
Australia: 3,986 – 3,075
Spanish: 2,177 – 1,200
Canada French: 2,155 – 1,956
Portuguese: 1,397 – 321
Italian: 517 – 516 (last tweet June 2019)
Indonesia: 354 – 354 (last tweet 2015)
Swedish: 361 – 364 (last tweet 2016)
French: 230 – 235 (last tweet 2018)
German: 122 – 123 (last tweet 2018)
Russian: – 34
Japanese: 19 – 19 (last tweet 2012)
Dutch: – 12
Arabic: – 7

Linked In

LabourStart group: 2,130 – 2,119

Flickr

Union group on Flickr: 835 – 834

LabourStart’s news website

Correspondents: 930 – 905

Website traffic to the main news website

Visitors 371,877 – 391,616

Jul
29
2019
0

July is campaign season at LabourStart

We’ve launched three campaigns already in July and the month isn’t even over yet.

One, which we launched last week, is in support of Erlan Baltabay, a jailed trade union leader in Kazakhstan. That campaign has 5,665 supporters after just five days online and already appears in 15 languages.

The second one is supporting municipal workers in Izmir, Turkey (pictured). The local authorities dismissed trade union members without any legal basis. The workers have been picketing since the 20th of May. The number of dismissals reached 187 on July 24. This campaign will be going live today — and a LabourStart banner will be taken the picket line this week.

The Cambodia campaign (Cambodia: Solidarity with workers at the West Mebun temple) which we launched 26 days ago has 5,482 supporters and appears in 17 languages. It looks like we will soon be able to add Khmer to that list.

Our largest active campaign remains Pakistan: Reinstate the Karachi 8 (pictured above) with 7,478 supporters. This campaign appears in 16 languages and has been active for a little more than two months.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |
Jul
15
2019
2

New campaign, new mailing lists and a book promotion

Cambodia: Workers at the West Mebun temple.

New campaign – Cambodia. We launched a new campaign in support of workers restoring the West Mebun temple last week at the request of BWI and the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia. Today it has 4,213 supporters and appears in 16 languages (three of those will go live later today or tomorrow).

Sendy: Claims it will save us 99% of what we were spending on MailChimp.

Mailing lists: We have now completed the migration from MailChimp to Sendy, which will result in a very substantial cost saving. We’ve used the opportunity to create new sign-up pages on LabourStart for the mailing list in many languages, with more being added every day. Links to these new pages feature now on a number of our home pages. Though we still recruit most new subscribers from supporters of our campaigns, this will raise awareness of our mailing lists to a wider audience. We had a number of teething problems with our new host, but these now seem to have been overcome.

The result of our campaign: a 400% increase in the number of readers of this fantastic book.

Book promotion: We offered our book about migrant workers — The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Worker Movement — for free for five days on Kindle. Previously, over the course of two years, we had only managed to sell 162 copies of this book. But our free campaign this month resulted in 662 more downloads — as well as a few sales of the print edition. This was a massive increase in the number of people who are reading the book, which is great. As expected, a handful of our readers complained that we were using the Amazon Kindle platform, so we located a PDF version and shared this with them as a free download. We will do this for one of our other books in September.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Mailing list,Publications |
Jun
28
2019
1

New campaign, new country – same company, same union-busting

In the last three weeks we launched one new campaign, closed one, and did a lot of other stuff. Keep reading …

Poland campaign: We launched a new campaign in support of a union activist facing victimisation for his trade union activity. The campaign is currently in 14 languages (with more on the way), and has 6,159 supporters. It targets the same company (Hutchison) as another current LabourStart campaign in support of port workers in Karachi.

China campaign: We closed the campaign in all languages after three months online and are waiting to hear back from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions about the results. The total number of supporters of the campaign was 8,557 and it ran in 18 languages. It was our largest current campaign when we closed it.

ITUC Global Rights Index: Having discussed this with an ITUC staffer in Oslo, we proceeded to give the launch of this report extensive publicity this year, doing a special mailing to our list timed to coincide with the official release of the report, and promoting it widely across social media. A Turkish translation was done, and was sent out to our Turkish list as well.

Arthur Svensson Prize: Eric Lee was invited to represent LabourStart in Oslo for the award ceremony. His speech is available to read here. You can also view the whole panel including Eric in this video.

Correspondents: We recruited 30 new correspondents in the first half of 2019. They come from 20 countries: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Greece, Guyana, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Swaziland, the UK, and the USA. Most of them have not yet been active but we will be making a special effort to reach out to all of them.

New mailing list system: We’ve now migrated nearly all the mailing lists from MailChimp to Sendy, with a potential cost saving of over 90%. There have been some hiccups, but on the whole this works well. The biggest lists (especially English) will be the last to be migrated in the next few days.

Static pages: The static pages on the LabourStart website have been built over more than two decades, with many different designs. From this week, they are all getting a unified design using an ultra-light content management system called Pico, which they call “a stupidly simple, blazing fast, flat file CMS.” For an example of what these pages might look like, see here.

Donations: We received generous donations from unions in Canada, Norway and the UK this month, as well as many individual donations.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |
Jun
07
2019
0

Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines – we focus on Asia this month

Pictured: LabourStart editor Eric Lee with leaders of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress last week in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia: LabourStart editor Eric Lee spent several days in Malaysia, working together with the Ethical Trading Initiative on a new project they have started on migrant labour. We met with leaders of Malaysian unions, including the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, a number of pro-labour NGOs, a social democratic MP, activists from the Malaysian Socialist Party, and representatives of the global union federations BWI and IndustriALL in the country.

Pakistan campaign: At the request of the ITF, we launched a campaign in supported of 8 sacked dock workers in Karachi. After about a week online, it had just over 5,200 supporters and appeared in 13 languages.

Philippines campaign: At the request of BWI, we launched a campaign against the giant transnational company Holcim. After less than a week online, it had over 4,700 supporters and appeared in 14 languages.

Email service provider: Our current provider is MailChimp and it’s quite expensive. We are currently exploring alternatives, and have migrated some of our lists over to Sendy, a much less costly solution, using a hosting service in Belgium that specialises in this.

Telegram: Following the revelations about hacking that targetted WhatsApp — and specifically targetted activists — we set up a public LabourStart channel on the more secure Telegram platform, a closed private group for members of our Executive, and will soon announce a public discussion group using Telegram as well.

Arthur Svensson prize: LabourStart, which won this prestigious Norwegian trade union award in 2016, has been invited back to Oslo for a ceremony in June to honour the current recipient.

Written by ericlee in: Campaigns,Events,Mailing list,Publicity |
May
20
2019
0

The last 80 days on LabourStart

We are very late with updates to this page, so this one will have to cover the last 80 days — sorry!

In future, we hope to do more frequent updates — starting with one in another two weeks.

Mailing lists:
We begin work on trying to a tool called Sendy to cut down on some of our costs, as MailChimp is quite expensive. This transition to a new system will be a slow process and it is something that we tried several years ago. But if we can get it to work, we will save a lot of money.

May Day & International Womens Day:
We had extensive coverage from all over the world and publicised our coverage widely. Thanks to our volunteer correspondents for their great work on this.

New correspondents:
We have new volunteer correspondents in Italy, Kenya, Pakistan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the UK. Welcome on board to all of you.

New design:
A new design for LabourStart’s home page is now being readied and will be released soon.

Campaigns – still active:
BRAZIL – We launched a Portuguese language campaign targetting our supporters in Brazil in early April.
CHINA – On 13 March we launched a campaign at the request of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and today it appears in 18 languages and has 8,497 supporters.

Campaigns – closed:
GUATEMALA – We closed PSI’s Guatemala campaign, which appeared in 16 languages and had 8.128 supporters.
JORDAN – This campaign was closed at the request of the Solidarity Center and ITUC after the government failed to listen to the calls for an improved labour law. It had about 3,500 supporters and appeared in 10 languages.
PHILIPPINES – We closed down the EI’s Philippines campaign after 3 months; the campaign had 8,130 supporters and appeared in 17 languages.
THAILAND – We closed the ITF Thailand campaign after more than 3 months; it appeared in 18 languages and had 7,494 supporters.

Fundraising:
During the final week of April we launched our annual appeal. Details on how much money we raised and how this compares to previous years — in the next update. If you’ve not yet donated and want to help us out, please visit our donations page.

Internationalisation:
We completed the translation of the interface used by our volunteer correspondents into Spanish.
We also made a significant number of improvements in how our women workers page renders in different languages.

Bangladesh:
We shared the IUF urgent action story on social media and as a top global labour news story.

Brazil:
We launched a campaign at the request of the Brazilian unions – see above.

Canada:
We did a few mailings to our Canadian supporters to encourage them to support some campaigns by national unions there.

China:
We made the IUF story about solidarity with Jasic workers a top global labour news story, and shared widely across social media.
We also launched a major campaign – see above.

Cuba:
We shared widely on LabourStart and across social media the story from BWI about the Cuban unions and the international trade union movement.

Europe:
Derek Blackadder participated in the ETUC congress in Vienna.
We shared news about the ETUC march in Brussels as a top global labour news story, as well as across social media.

Greece:
An ETUC news story about Greek Stalinists attacking a union is our top news story and we shared it widely on social media.

India:
We shared a story from the ITUC – #modimustgo – widely on social media and as a top global labour news story.

Iran:
We made a story about the arrests of women in Iran a top story on social media.
We publicised as a top global story and across social media reports of a nationwide teachers’ strike.

Korea:
We promoted the ITUC story on Korea as a top global labour news story, and across social media.

Mali:
We publicised the ITF Mali hunger strike story as a top global news story and across social media.

Myanmar:
We promoted the IUF Myanmar campaign to our list.

Palestine:
We shared the IFJ story about journalists in Gaza widely on social media and as a top global news story.

Philippines:
We promoted the awarding of the Arthur Svensson prize to a Philippines trade unionist as a top story and to our mailing list. Eric Lee has been invited to attend the awards ceremony in Oslo, and to speak on a panel there.

South Africa:
We shared widely on LabourStart and across social media COSATU’s call on workers to vote for the ANC in the recent elections. And also the story about the AMCU being decertified.

Sri Lanka:
We shared the ITF statement on Sri Lanka terrorist attacks across social media and as a top global news story.

USA:
We shared quite a few news stories about the IAM organising campaign at Delta airlines and posted widely on social media. We have also approached the union about helping with a campaign.
We promoted the UE strike in Erie as a top global news story, and across social media.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |
May
20
2019
3

Our New Twitter Challenge

Hi comrades. Derek Blackadder of LabourStart Canada here.

I manage a number of our Twitter accounts and help out with a couple of others. Recently Twitter has changed some of the limits it places onĀ  ‘churn’ activities which until recently had allowed us to increase the number of followers of our accounts quite substantially and quickly. For example, on most of our accounts following 20 or so other accounts within a few minutes results in that action being no longer available to us for 25 hours. In the past doing this brought us to the attention of a great many Twitter users with an interest in labour news and resulted in us gaining many followers.

If anyone has any other strategies that might replace the ‘churn’ approach I would be grateful if you would contact me with details either here or at [email protected]

In Solidarity,

Written by derek in: Uncategorized |
Feb
28
2019
0

February: a victory in Korea, a new campaign in Jordan

Bangladesh: We promoted a story about the Bangladesh Accord (IndustriALL) as a top global labour news story, and across social media.

Belgium: The transport workers union got in touch and interview Eric Lee for their online and print magazine.

Iran: We publicised as a top global news story, and across social media, the arrest of Mokhtar Asadi, a teacher in Iranian Kurdistan. We also shared the IUF’s story about Amnesty International and Iran on social media, and as a top global news story.

Jordan: We launched a campaign at the request of the ITUC and Solidarity Center. After less than two weeks online, the campaign appears in 15 languages, and has 5,270 supporters.

Kazakhstan: We closed one of our campaigns after three months online. We are still waiting for a report from the campaign sponsors.

Namibia: We made the mine strike story a top global news story.

Nigeria: We gave extensive publicity to an ITUC news story about Nigeria.

North Korea: We made a story about 150,000 forced labourers into top global labour news story and shared it widely on social media.

South Korea: Victory in our campaign together with the KPTU, who wrote to thank us. We publicised the victory across social media and with a mailing to our English list (the campaign was only translated into a few languages in the few days it was online).

Thailand: We closed one of our campaigns after three months online. We are still waiting for a report from the campaign sponsors.

Ukraine: We shared the story of the Ukrainian miners’ protest underground as a top global news story and across social media.

USA: We posted a story about a big retail strike in New England across social media.

Venezuela: We promoted the PSI statement as a stop global news story and across social media.

Zimbabwe: We posted widely about the detention of the ITUC Africa secretary general and his subsequent release.

Correspondents: We added new correspondents from Italy, the USA, Russia, and Guyana. We also posted on social media an appeal for people to signup to be correspondent (producing no results). We published online the guidelines for correspondents in Italian. We’ve received a translation of the interface for correspondence in Spanish but it needs some more work.

Mailing lists: We posted an appeal to recruit new subscribers across social media. We added 674 new campaign supporters to the lists; there was considerable growth to our Thai list this time.

Women: We wrote to all correspondents about International Women’s Day – as I did last year, using almost the same text.

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