The last 8 days: campaigns, survey, Berlin group, Swedish home page


We’re closing the WizzAir campaign after 3 months and nearly 10,000 signatures. It was our first campaign ever with a Romanian version. According to the European Transport Workers Federation, “The workers have not been reinstated (yet), but the campaign helped a lot in terms of building confidence of the local union and getting public attention. There is a court case pending and we should have the final ruling somewhere in April/March – of course, we hope that it will be in our favour.”
Algeria – repression of unemployed activists. We’ve shared this with the IUF and are waiting for their decision; they may run a campaign themselves which of course we will support.
Turkey campaign – we’ve been approached about the possibility of another Turkey campaign, this one targetting a well-known consumer brand; more details when we have them.

Here are our current campaigns in order of popularity:

  • Turkey – Maltepe – 10,540 supporters
  • Rio Tinto – 8,997 supporters
  • Lafarge Holcim – 8,413 supporters
  • Peru – 5,962 supporters – campaign due to close next week

Survey of LabourStart correspondents:

Martina will be reviewing all the responses and writing up a report. We’ve received a small grant from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation to do a study of our work, and this is part of it.

Berlin Group:

They now have a (blank) website and a joint email address, as they requested. They’ve drafted a founding statement which will go on to the site.

Swedish LabourStart:

I’ve improved the home page and we’re working on including an RSS and Twitter feed as well.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Internationalization,Surveys |

Retreat postponed, campaign launched, work begins on our calendar – a review of week 3 of 2015

2015 Retreat: The Tunis retreat planned for March has been postponed. More details soon.


Holcim Lafarge: This campaign, launched last week, only had 5,000 supporters after the first 7 days, so I did a followup mailing to nearly 82,000 people on the English list who hadn’t yet signed up, according to MailChimp. As a result, we increased the number of supporters by more than a third, and are now just under 6,800. This number will rise as we get the campaign active in both German and Italian, two of our largest languages.

Istanbul Maltepe Hospital: This campaign is one of our largest, and now has just under 10,000 supporters, as we pick up another 700 this week.


Global Labour Calendar: A group of 7 of us have begun discussions of how to do this, focussing on how to print it, select the photos, and add the contents (labour history dates).

Global Crisis, Global Solidarity: I’m trying to move forward on publishing the papers presented at our 2014 conference, but we received very few of them and am now looking to find the workshop summaries which might give us more content.

Annual survey of trade union use of the net: I’ve written to our entire mailing list to try to get some help with volunteers to do this again.

Written by admin in: 2015 Retreat,Campaigns,Publications,Surveys |

Three campaigns, three publications, two surveys, one conference – week 2 of 2015 on LabourStart

2015 has gotten off to a brisk start.  Here’s my report on week 2:


  • We launched one in support of sacked hospital workers in Turkey — our first campaign of 2015.  It’s already had 9,348 supporters in the last seven days and is likely to pass 10,000 shortly, making it our largest currently active campaign.  The campaign appears in 18 languages, including Chinese for the first time in a very long time. PSI and EPSU added themselves as supporters after a few days. The campaign can be found here: http://www.labourstart.org/go/maltepe
  • Today we’re launching another campaign in cooperation with IndustriALL, BWI and EFBWW, demanding that the merger of Holcim and Lafarge take workers’ rights into account.  That campaign is here: http://www.labourstart.org/go/nomerger
  • I closed the WIPO campaign after 3 months and 6,254 messages sent, but have not yet heard back from the union; we don’t know what effect, if any, the campaign had.  It is unfortunate that sometimes our partners do this, and neglect to keep us and our supporters informed.


  • We’ve gotten some volunteers and some ideas for our (almost) annual survey of trade union use of the net.  More details next week.
  • I’ll soon be publishing a detailed report on the results of our survey of LabourStart correspondents.


  • A number of people have volunteered to help with our Global Labour Calendar for 2016.  People have stepped up with ideas on how to print it, to help add labour history content to it, and to translate it — well done! More details coming soon.
  • We’ve now exchanged contracts with Prof. Joe Atkins for The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Labor Movement, a collection of essays which we will publish at the very end of this year.
  • I’ve resumed work on getting out Global Crisis, Global Solidarity — our book of conference papers, long overdue.

Retreat 2015:

  • We’ve had some discussions about this; more details next week when I know them.


  • We now have a Swedish-language Twitter feed and Facebook page which we’ll publicize next week.
  • I had a full day with our senior correspondent in the Caribbean, Dave Smith, and we discussed a number of issues relating to LabourStart’s activities in that region.


  • Dave pointed out a problem with the display of regional news on the Android app which I will fix.
  • I have had an ongoing discussion with Como support about how the RSS feeds are displayed on our app.  A similar discussion with Andromo support led them to make a change in how they handle RSS feeds which should take effect soon.  Como and Andromo are two online tools we use (and pay for) to build our apps.

Tunis, apps, publications, survey, Italy, course, Brazil, and more – another week on LabourStart

I’ve decided to post weekly reports on what’s going on at LabourStart — please feel free to share these with colleagues and friends.  2015 is going to be one our busiest years ever — and here’s the first week …

Retreat – Tunis: We’re moving on this; I’ve sent the necessary letters regarding hotels and meeting space to our friends in the UGTT in Tunisia.  More on this next week.


We’re using two different app-building platforms each of which has drawbacks.  Como builds both for Android and iOS, but it handles RSS feeds badly (it takes two clicks, not one, to show a news story.)  I’ve written to them to get help on this.

Meanwhile, Andromo which is better (and has improved at my suggestion how they cache RSS feeds, because at the moment they show our closed campaigns) unfortunately only works in Android.  This is what is holding up the release of our iOS app (approved by the Apple store, but I’m not satisfied with how it works) and our apps in other languages.

Meanwhile, our Android app has been published in the Amazon store, so users of Amazon’s devices (Kindle, Firephone, etc) can use it; also, users of Blackberries can get their version of the app there.

Publications: We’ll probably begin work on the 2016 Global Labour Calendar this coming week.  Anyone who’s willing to help is invited to post comments below.  We’re also working on two books we’re committed to getting out this year — one on migrant workers, and one with papers and speeches from our Berlin conference last May (long delayed, I know).  (Thanks to Derek for helping on this.)

Survey of trade union use the net: I’ve suggested we consider doing this again; so far, three people have volunteered to help, so next week we’ll probably start work on this again.  (Thanks to Derek, David and Gerhard.)

Italian LabourStart: We now have a Twitter feed and and an email address, and a group of committed correspondents and translators.   The Italian mailing list is our fourth-largest with over 4,000 addresses, and we’re keen to grow it and to be more useful to the Italian unions.  (Thanks Silvana and Andrea.)

Guidelines for new correspondents: This has now been translated into Spanish.  (Thanks David).

Survey of LabourStart correspondents: I’ll make the results available in a few days, but one result is clear: most people do want a discussion forum.  I’ve looked into a couple of the better known options, but will be asking for volunteers to help with this project.  (Thanks to Gisela for doing the survey.)

Online campaigns course: I’ve begun planning for a meeting in Brussels later this month with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) which has agreed to hold a 3-day course in Germany for European trade unionists.

Brazil project: As you may know, we have received a grant to do some work building LabourStart in Brazil.  I’ve started writing to our contacts there.

LabourStart in Numbers: I’ve done the last monthly report; from now on, this will be done every quarter.




Fourth survey of trade union use of the net

We’ve done three annual  surveys of trade union use of the net; the most recent one in early 2013.  (Here’s the report.)

These surveys have gotten fairly significant numbers of participants – 2,746 last time (+377 more in French); 2,605 in 2012 (+349 in French); and 1,336 in 2011 (Survey was done only in English then).

Should we do on in 2015?

And would one of you be willing to volunteer to craft the survey, arrange the translations (ideally not only French this time) and produce a short report on the results?  I’m happy to help with the technical side and publicity.

Please reply using the comments below so that everyone can see any discussion that takes place.



Written by admin in: Surveys |

The month in review – December 2014

Next generation LabourStart

The number of users of our Android app in English, launched on 11 November, has grown to 587 (gained only 25 new users in December); the average reviewer gave it 4.88 stars. Our Android app in Esperanto, launched on 26 November, has been installed 17 times.

Our iOS app (for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) has just been approved by the Apple App store (we submitted it on 3 December at first) and will be launched in the next two days. This app was designed in Como, which we can use to create apps for both Android and iOS, and will do so.

We have received the translation for the Norwegian version of our apps and expect this go live shortly.

Tunis Retreat

We’ll have more to report on this throughout January.

A reminder was sent to all correspondents to respond to the pre-retreat survey; so far we’ve had 58 responses and will provide a full report soon.


We launched only two campaigns in December and closed one of them fairly quickly at the request of the union – these were the ones surrounding the jailing of Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros, and the other concerned Luis Isarra in Peru. The Peru campaign has generated only 5,634 messages of protest so far, while the Colombia campaign generated 7,450.

We closed three campaigns in December — Deva in Turkey, USA IKEA and the Colombia industrial accident campaign, which resulted in a big win.

At the moment, we are running only four active campaigns — and three of those will close within the next four weeks.

A trade union leader in Bangladesh has offered to translate our campaigns into Bengali; I have sent him the framework file to translate.

We launched our first Romanian language campaign, and mailing list.

Online campaigning course

The European Trade Union Institute has approved our proposal for a 3-day course on the subject of online campaigning, to be held in Germany in June. More details soon.


Our latest book, Dan Gallin’s Solidarity, is being translated into Russian by Masha.

I’ve signed a contract with Professor Joe Atkins for a LabourStart book due to appear at the end of 2015 about migrant workers. More details coming soon.


We received a generous donation from the Education International.

I wrote to all correspondents about the annual Svennsson prize which could be major boost to LabourStart if we ever win it.


We ran a mini-campaign to raise the issue of workers’ rights at Fairphone, which briefly got a lot of attention and a phone call from the company.


We learned (from Mahesh) that there was a problem with our code that allowed people to tweet any news story that appeared on LabourStart — if there was an apostrophe in the story title, it didn’t work. This has now been fixed.

I also fixed the drop down menu showing country names on the French language home page, and a couple of other small fixes to the page.


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.


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.


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.


3rd annual survey of trade union use of the net – the results

Here’s the summary prepared by Edd Mustill:

The respondents were a real mix of union members, many holding some sort of union position from branch upwards, but many lay members too. The comments also reveal that a number of retired members responded. The gender imbalance – about two-thirds male – is noticeable.

There have been big increases in the number of union members accessing the net on tablets, and smartphones continued to grow in popularity too. This accounts, no doubt, for the large number of people who now access the internet while travelling, making round the clock engagement more necessary than ever.

Google continues its surge in popularity, both in the use of its Chrome browser, and its social network Google+ (although how active Google+ members are on the network is open to question).

Facebook remains by far the most popular social network, but Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are all growing. Unions have responded to this well on Twitter, building themselves a good presence there, but are so far lagging behind their members when it comes to engaging with LinkedIn and Google+: 42.1% of members reported being on LinkedIn, but only 8.9% reported their union having a presence there. 26.6% are on Google+, but only 5.5% have noticed a union presence.

Members seem happy with the quality of online content they receive from their unions, whether it be an email newsletter or a video. But there are still large numbers – even among those filling out this survey – who don’t know whether their union produces, for example, online videos or a smartphone app. This suggests unions may need to do more to promote their online work to their members.

Some of the most interesting and potentially useful results came when we asked people what online work unions should be prioritising. Online campaigning and recruitment were favourites, and there was a big appetite for practical, day-to-day help to be made readily available on websites. The top 3 things that people wanted to see on union websites were: tips on workers’ rights, training for activists, and describing working conditions in companies.

To read a much more detailed account, click here to download the PDF file.

To see the full results of the survey, visit this password-protected site.  (Ask us for the password.)

Here is the same thing for the French survey.

Written by admin in: Surveys |

Weekly review – 7-22 March

Absence: I will be travelling all of next week, back at work on 1st April. Edd will cover for me in the office.

Campaigns launched: We launched a new UK-only campaign for the RMT — our third currently-active campaign for them.

Campaigns to come: In April we anticipate at least two new campaigns — DISK in Turkey wants our help dealing with a German employer who is trying to impose a yellow union on its employees. And UNI and BWI in Asia want us to campaign on behalf of an anti-trafficking campaigner (and LabourStart correspondent) who is being taken to court by a company in Thailand.

Campaigns closed: We closed two campaigns in the last two weeks — Netherlands (FNV) and El Salvador. No clear result in either case.

Campaign improvements: There will be a number of improvements in light of things I learned recently. In all upcoming campaigns, we’ll try to include a Radio Labour component; Marc Belanger has kindly offered to interview key people and we’ll integrate this into the campaigns. I’ve fixed how the campaigns will show when we link to them on Facebook — it will no longer show by default the LabourStart logo, and instead will allow us to choose a better photo from the campaign page itself. Finally, when we’d look at closed campaigns, the number of supporters shown was always wrong. This has now been fixed.

Mass mailings: We did our first A/B testing — see below. Interesting results.

New website design: Launched around 11 days ago. We are now working on getting many of the internal pages to conform to the new design. Masha has suggested a number of new logos. Derek pointed out two problems — top stories with long titles were over-writing the text below, and some stories were being orphaned over the three columns at the bottom; both now fixed. We learned that top news stories in other languages were appearing on the English home page; this too is now fixed.

Internationalization: We now have campaigns and mailings in Slovak. We have a home page displaying news in Korean (we’ve had Korean campaigns for some time). And our new home page design has been implemented in Esperanto — the first language other than English to use this.

The Global Labour Movement: An Introduction. Our second book — due for launch in early May. In addition to the bits that Edd is writing, we’ll have contributions from the British TUC, Amnesty International, ICTUR, the Global Labour Institutes, and Dan Gallin. And we have activists on the ground answering email interview questions about their relationship with the GUFs. Should be interesting and useful, and we hope to launch it on 4th May. Which brings us to …

LabourStart’s First-Ever May Day Party: Due to be held at London’s only union-owned pub, the Bread & Roses, on 4th May. We’re building interest in this and intend to push it very hard throughout April.

Public speeches: I spoke last week in Oxford at the annual e-Campaigning Forum, on a panel with Anita Gardner of IndustriALL and again on the closing panel. Next Sunday, I’ve been invited to speak at a fringe meeting at the annual conference of Britain’s largest teachers’ union, the NASUWT, on the subject of jailed teacher trade unionists.

Third Annual Survey of Trade Union Use of the Net: Closed today. Expect a report shortly.


Weekly review – 26 February – 6 March

Annual survey: We’ve gone up from 500 responses to 2,082. We still need 872 more to beat last year’s record. We got an article on the TUC blog, Stronger Unions, which has helped boost interest in the UK.  We’ll stop collecting responses in just 13 more days — on 19 March.

Site re-design: I incorporated most of the comments made by comrades on what I did so far. Masha, who is a professional graphic designer, is going to suggest a new logo design soon — once we have that, we can go live, first with the English version. The draft site is here.

Campaigns: We launched our Turkey campaign and it’s already up to 8,613 supporters. We closed down the Bahrain and Netherlands FNV campaigns (see separate posts for reports.) Edd and I both did articles about the Turkey campaign for Solidarity and the New Left Project (a website).

Book 1 (Online campaigning): The French edition has been created and is available for purchase. Sales of both editions have now reached 611, with another 43 free copies given out, for a total of 654. We’ve now paid for ‘extended distribution’ meaning that the books (in English and French) will be available in bookshops and from other online retailers, including Amazon Canada.

Book 2 (Global labour movement): Edd and I are working hard on this one, aiming to get it ready by May Day. In addition to what we’re writing, we solicited submissions from a number of comrades and are pleased that we’ll have contributions from ICTUR, Amnesty, the Global Labour Institutes, the TUC and others. See more details here: http://www.labourstart.org/blogs/?p=2818

Internationalization: We’ll have campaigns in Slovak starting this week. All our campaigns have been translated into Esperanto and our translation group in that language now has 8 members. I’ve contributed an article (an interview, of sorts) for an Austrian Esperanto magazine about LabourStart. We’ll have a Korean interface for our news later today.

Fundraising: We now have a venue and date for our London May Day fundraiser – May 4th, 19:30 at the Bread and Roses pub.  Two months before the event, 77 people say they are coming or may be coming.

Public speeches: I spoke at the Unison Wales Women’s Development Weekend in Swansea on Saturday to an audience of about 26; I sold all 10 of the online campaigning books I brought with me. Next Wednesday, Edd and I (and Anita Gardner of IndustriALL) will be on a panel at the e-Campaigning Forum in Oxford. On March 31st, I’ve been invited to speak at a fringe meeting of the annual conference in Bournemouth of the teachers union NASUWT. In addition, Napo – the probation officers union – has asked me to run a workshop on social media.

Social Networks: We now have a page on Google+ which, according to our survey, is widely used by trade unionists.

App for smartphones and tablets: I’m completing one this week for the IUF and when done, I’ll know how to do the one for LabourStart.

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