British TUC promotes our annual survey

My second column for the TUC’s Stronger Unions blog is here.

This morning we’re up to 1,982 participants – that considerably higher than in 2011 (1,336) but we still have a long way to go to beat last year’s number (2,954).

Written by admin in: Surveys |

Weekly review – 20-25 February 2013

Annual survey: We’ve gotten just over 500 responses so far in the first week; last year we got 2,954. We have yet to do a dedicated mailing on this subject and when that goes out, we should see a big response. So far, we mentioned this in another mailing a week ago, but not as the top or exclusive story. Today, we mailed to over 5,400 UnionBook members about this.

Site re-design: I’ve now shared this with a number of people and will soon be posting my comments on their comments.

Campaigns: The Cameroon campaign was closed down after 3 months. We may launch a Turkey campaign later today.

Online campaigning book – French edition: This has been created and will shortly be ready for sale.

Internationalization: I completed a review of our 50 languages – see post below for details.

Fundraising: UNI has made a substantial pledge, as has PSI. We have made progress in getting a venue and performers for the first-ever LabourStart fundraiser, to be held in London on 4 May (tentative date).


A busy Thursday update

Some quick highlights …

  1. We’ll be launching a new campaign sometime today or tomorrow in support of the Turkish trade unionists who were arrested this week.  We’re waiting on PSI and EI to agree a text.
  2. Our book on online campaigning has been translated into French. Thank you Andy!  We’ll try to make it available as soon as possible.
  3. We’ve done a mailing to our Canadian list to promote a Canada-specific campaign, and earlier this week mailed to our UK list to promote a UK-only campaign.  A third of our current campaigns are now country-specific.
  4. We closed down the Cameroon musicians campaign today after three months.  Still waiting to hear from FIM about the results.
  5. We launched our first campaign ever in Esperanto this afternoon.  We have a small Google Group for volunteer translators who did the work on this – much appreciated.
  6. We had comprehensive coverage of the massive strike in India thanks to several correspondents – including Mahesh and Edd.
  7. We wrote this week to hundreds of state labour federations and city central labour councils across the USA to promote our new newswires for each of the 50 states.
  8. We’re up to 452 responses to our annual survey — nearly half of them this time in French.



Weekly review – 13-19 February 2013

Annual survey of trade union use of the net: This went live in English and French editions about 24 hours ago.  So far, there have been 271 responses.  Last year we got 2,954 over the course of a month, and the year before that, 1,336.

Site re-design: Work has resumed on this and significant progress made.  We’ll have a more attractive site to show in a few days.  For those of you desperate to see the work-in-progress, email me and I’ll tell you where to look.


  • New campaigns: We’re launching two new campaigns this week specifically for Canada (on behalf of COPE) and the UK (on behalf of RMT).
  • Viewing campaign supporters: Some time ago we made it so that you needed a password to view the list of campaign supporters.  The problem was, you needed to embed that password in the URL.  This is now user-friendly; you can key in the password directly onto the page, in a form.
  • Campaigns landing page: This now works in French – modeled on the English version.  We’ll eventually have this working for all languages.
  • New languages for campaigns and mailing lists: We now have a significant mailing list for Tagalog (191 addresses).  Our Czech friends have completed translations so we now have a couple of campaigns and have done a mailing in Czech (95 subscribers).  We  have three volunteers signed up to help coordinate translations of our campaigns into Esperanto; they’ve formed a Google Group to share the effort.


  • Book 1: The Kindle edition of our book (Campaigning Online and Winning)  is now live and has been promoted.  Sales of the paperback edition are now well above 500.  We’re waiting for the French and German translations.  We’ve essentially run out of the 100 copies we bought for the office, and have ordered – and received – 100 more. A review is appearing in the next edition of Labor Notes, in the USA.
  • Book 2: Edd and I are in the advanced stages of planning for this one — more details very soon.
  • Book 3: I completed and submitted my manuscript to UCS 12 days ago — waiting to hear from them what else they need, and a schedule.  The working title is Making Unions Stronger – Using the Internet Better, but this will change.

News database:

  • Countries list for news database: There were several versions of this — you could, for example, add a story for a new country such as “South Sudan”, and that country was one of the options, but that name didn’t appear in the list of countries on the front page of LabourStart.  This has now been fixed — both scripts are now reading from the same file.
  • Languages for posting news: While it was possible to post to LabourStart in some 50 languages, we have only about 30 translated front pages — so if you posted a news story in, say, Urdu, it entered the database and would have appeared if you searched for news in all languages — but was not tagged in our database with any specific language.  This has now been fixed, and every story in the database from now on is tagged with a language code.
  • Newswires for all 50 US states: We now have this — previously we had for fewer than a dozen.  Now we have to think about how to publicize this – it could be useful for local unions, state federations, and so on.


  • Fundraising: I wrote to every global union federation last week; only two have responded, one with a promise to donate more than last year.
  • Fundraising evening in London: We’re making plans to hold this on 27 April – details coming soon.



3rd annual survey of trade union use of the net – now live

survey-monkey-logoIn 2011 we had 1,336 trade union members from around the world fill in our survey which was really impressive; it was the biggest survey we’d ever done.

But a year later, we had nearly triple the response, this time 2,954 respondents — and 349 of them in French (2011’s survey was in English only).

Today we launched the third annual survey and are beginning publicity for it now – please fill it in and spread the word.

The survey is available in English and French editions.

We’ll run the survey for one month.

Written by admin in: Surveys |

Weekly review – 21-28 January 2013

New campaign: We launched a new campaign in support of Korean government workers, whose president is on hunger strike.  This is the first campaign we’ve ever done that’s picked up any supporters at all in Korea, and was quickly translated into that language (among many others).  We’re already over the 5,000 mark and hope for this to turn into a large campaign.

New mailing list system: I have experimenting with Sendy and have to say that so far, am very pleased. It works, it’s cheap, and the tech support has been great.  (This is taking a lot of time, but as it will save us something like £5,000 this year, it will be worth it.)

Book 1: I’m completing the writing this week of Making Unions Stronger – Using the Internet Better, which will be published by UCS this year.

Book 2: Sales continue to go well for Campaigning Online and Winning (473 sold so far) and we’ve had offers to translate into French and German.  We have a Kindle edition of the English version ready, but it needs some tweaking.

New language: Our friends at the KMU in the Philippines have given us a translation of our campaigns framework into Tagalog – spoken by an estimated 28 million people.

Newswires: All the regional newswires are now working.

Coming soon: The third annual survey of trade union use of the net.




Weekly round-up

Some odds and ends – things that have kept me busy these last few days …

Twitter: We now have Canadian English and French feeds (thanks to Derek) and they’re quite popular. Today we mailed to over 9,000 Canadians on our list in the hope of making them even better known.  At the moment, the English feed has 364 followers; the French one has 20.

App: As I reported below, we’re pretty much ready to launch the iPad version and will probably do this in the next day or two.  It will, however, take Apple a couple of weeks to approve this and make it available in the App Store. Versions will quickly follow for other platforms including the iPhone, Android, etc, and other languages.

Campaigns: We discovered that there was a bug in our software that allowed people to sign up twice from the same email address – this has now been fixed.  This may also help speed up the system — and we’ll be making several other small tweaks to the code to make it work faster and more efficiently.  We launched a new campaign on Peru; publicity and translations begin today. A new campaign, just over the horizon, deals with Italy.  We have several more in the pipeline.  I’ve followed up about three campaigns that this week have reached the two-month mark (Turkey, Kazakhstan and Italy), asking our partners if they should be closed or if we can somehow reawaken interest in them.  We now have a way to show supporters which campaigns they’ve signed up to and which ones they’ve missed – this is now highlighted in the email they receive when they send off a campaign message and will be included elsewhere in our system.  The goal is to get our supporters to sign up to even more campaigns. I’ve given our Korean translator direct access to input campaigns, and have asked for a translation of the news as well.  There have been a couple of small tweaks to the campaign design – there is now a required field for the photo (and no longer a need to code in the HTML to display it); also, it’s now easier to input partner information as the HTML is now displayed.

News: While we set up the Dutch platform successfully, the Norwegian one caused problems.  I’ve now made the changes which I think will allow our Norwegian correspondents to see an interface in their language – we’ll test this tomorrow.  This already works in English, Russian and French.

Fundraising: I’ve been doing a lot of work on global and British unions; we’ve gotten some good commitments to donations this year but have a lot more work to do.  I’ll give a full report later on.

Survey: We completed the second annual survey of trade union use of the net and began publicity of the results.  I’ll be making the full survey results public later this week.  This was our largest and most successful survey ever, and we learned a lot.   We also added several hundred new people to our mailing list.

Conference 2012: An organizing committee has been formed in Sydney and they are due to meet soon. We are all using Basecamp to share a calendar, to-do lists, messages and documents (writeboards).  All the members of the committee as well as Derek and myself have logged in and used the system.


Second annual survey of trade union use of the net: the results

We’ve just completed the second annual survey of trade union use of the net and by any measure it was a huge success. I think we’ve learned a lot — and now we need to apply the lessons we’re learning.

Last year’s survey was relatively large (for us) with 1,336 respondents; this year, we got more than twice that number — 2,954.

And last year we did the survey in English only; this year we did both English and French versions.

Full results of the survey are now available here.  You will need a password to view them; email me for it.

Here are some highlights:


First of all, who responded? The English survey which had 2,605 responses, came largely from these countries (numbers in parentheses are from last year):

UK 670 (260), Canada 493 (236), USA 405 (243), Australia 319 (167), New Zealand 83 (39) and Ireland 72 (45).

Most respondents to the French survey came from:
Canada 127, France 72, and Belgium 66.

Here are the responses to key questions:


The biggest change since last year is the massive jump – more than a tripling – of those using tablets, with another huge jump in the number of smartphone users. With one in seven people surveyed now using a table computer to access the net, it means that unions should take that into account, creating either websites which are suited for a tablet display, or apps specifically designed to run on Android or iOS. Unions in Francophone countries seem to lag behind on this matter – for now.

Devices used to access the net:

(The first number is from the 2012 survey in English. The number in parentheses are from the 2011 survey. The number after that is from the 2012 survey in French.)

Desktop computer 77.7% (79.2%) 79%
Laptop, notebook or netbook 68.5% (70.8%) 64.6%
Smartphone 41.6% (31.4%) 21%
Tablet 14.3% (4.3%) 9.3%
Other 2.3% (2.6%) 3.1%

As for browsers, Internet Explorer’s share continues to fall, but there was also a significant fall for Firefox. The big winners are Chrome and Safari. Unions must take into account that websites designed to work on Internet Explorer on desktop PCs that do not render in correctly in other browsers are a problem. We are back in one sense to the 1990s when there were different browsers (remember Netscape?) that we needed to design for. Union websites must be tested on multiple browsers and on multiple devices (desktop computer, tablet, phone).

Web browsers used:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 63.7% (67.1%) 59.5%
Mozilla Firefox 45.4% (51.5%) 47.6%
Google Chrome 36.5% (26.7%) 32.7%
Safari 23.4% (18.6%) 16%
Other 4.6% (5.2%) 4.4%
Opera 3.4% (4.8%) 3.4%
Konqueror 0.3% (0.6%) 0.3%


Facebook remains the king here, but a surprise was the sudden jump in use of LinkedIn by trade unionists, with more than one in three now saying they use it. This is not the case with Francophones, who hardly use it at all. Twitter experienced a big gain — though this is not reflected in the French survey. UnionBook suffered a sharp decline in the last year. Social networks which used to compete on Facebook’s terrain such as MySpace, Orkut and Bebo now combined represent less than one tenth of Facebook’s reach. Second Life, for which some unions once invested a great deal of time and money, seems to have evaporated. In next year’s survey, we’ll make sure to include Google+ — which is clearly a hit among Francophone trade unionists, with more than one in four of them using it.

Members of which social networks:

Facebook 88.1% (88.1%) 77.6%
LinkedIn 37.5% (29.1%) 8.3%
Twitter 37.4% (32.5%) 15.4%
YouTube 35.3% (36.2%) 31.1%
UnionBook 24.1% (56%) 1.8%
Flickr 10.9% (13.5%) 1.3%
Other 10.3% (10.3%) 14%
MySpace 6.3% (11.4%) 2.2%
Second Life 1.6% (2.1%) 0.4%
Bebo 1.3% (1.2%) 0.4%
Orkut 0.5% (2%) —

Only asked in the French survey:

Google+ 27.6%

Participate in specifically trade union groups in these social networks:

Yes 56.2% (63.7%) 58.3%
No 43.8% (36.3%) 41.7%

Your union has a presence in the networks you belong to?

Yes 58% (58.8%) 57.9%
No 13.6% (15.4%) 17.6%
Don’t know 28.3% (25.7%) 24.5%

Unions are making more use of Facebook and Twitter than before, and this is true for both English and French speaking countries. Union use of LinkedIn appears to be quite limited, despite the very large number of trade unionists signed up to this social network. Unions should consider forming groups on LinkedIn and using it as an additional publishing platform, as well as discussion forum. As the French survey shows, Google+ is playing a significant role, with quite a few unions — at least in Francophone countries — now using it.

Social networks where your union has a presence

Facebook 90.2% (86.6%) 85.1%
Twitter 42.1% (33.5%) 28%
YouTube 24.6% (24.7%) 21.1%
UnionBook 10.5% (21.7%) 1.7%
Other 7.8% (9.3%) 15.4%
LinkedIn 7.7% (4.9%) 4.6%
MySpace 1.3% (2.4%)

Only asked in the French survey:

Google+ 9.1%


As one would suspect, nearly all national unions have websites, but as we will see, only one in five respondents visits them daily — and that number fell considerably in the last year.

National union has a website?

Yes 91.7% (92.9%) 90.4%
No 3.6% (3.3%) 4.1%
Don’t know 4.8% (3.8%) 5.5%

How often do you visit it?

Sometimes 67.2% (64.1%)
Daily 21.2% (27.1%) 26.4%
Never 11.7% (8.8%) 8.3%

Only asked in the French survey:

Weekly 29.2%
Monthly 6.9%

How would you rate it?

Good 49.8% (50.9%) 57.6%
Average 27.7% (26%) 22.9%
Excellent 13.3% (13.7%) 12.2%
Fair 4.8% (6.1%) 6.5%
Poor 4.4% (3.3%) 0.8%


The story with local and branch unions is somewhat different. Far fewer of them seem to have websites. In many cases, people don’t know if they do. And they visit them rarely, with a significant number saying they never visit them at all. Clearly unions must make additional efforts to improve the quality of local union websites to bring them up to the level of the national sites.

Local branch union has a website?

Yes 51.6% (54.5%) 53.5%
No 33.7% (35%) 32.6%
Don’t know 14.6% (10.5%) 13.9%

How often do you visit it?

Sometimes 53.7% (53.4%) 20.8%
Never 32.5% (28.1%) 27.8%
Daily 13.8% (18.5%) 18.5%

Only asked in the French survey:

Weekly 21.3%
Monthly 11.6%

How would you rate it?

Good 37.8% (36.6%) 46.6%
Average 28% (29.9%) 29.2%
Poor 14.6% (13.1%) 7.3%
Excellent 11.4% (8.8%) 12.4%
Fair 8.3% (11.6%) 4.5%


In spite of the huge jump in the numbers of trade unionists using smartphones and tablets, there has hardly been an increase in the union presence on these devices. And the ratings given by those who do use existing union apps are quite low — one in three in the English speaking survey rating their union app as fair or poor, and fully 41% of those responding to the French survey rating the union app as poor. We seem to back to the mid-1990s when union websites were often quite poor, especially when compared to other websites then coming on the scene. Union apps need to match other, similar apps in quality. In other words, it’s not enough to invest in creating an app. The app must be useful for members.

Your union has an app for smartphones or tablets?

Yes 5.8% (4.5%) 4.6%
No 38.1% (42.5%) 46.6%
Don’t know 56.1% (53%) 48.8%

If your union has an app, do you use it?

No 82% (83.9%) 83%
Yes 18% (16.1%) 17%

How would you rate it?

Average 28.4% (22.8%)
Poor 27.6% (27.6%) 41.4%
Good 25.8% (31.5%) 13.8%
Excellent 12.9% (11%) 3.4%
Fair 5.3% (7.1%) —


Unions in both the French and English surveys, over both years, make wide use of email newsletters and members seem largely satisfied with these. Unions should never underestimate the importance of these messages. While investing in the latest social media fad (like Second LIfe) may seem ‘cool’, members want to receive information in their email inboxes and unions must continue to invest in getting this right.

You receive regular email messages from your union?

Yes 78.1% (78.8%) 83.8%
No 21.9% (21.2%) 16.2%

How would you rate those messages?

Good 55.8% (54.2%) 57.9%
Excellent 21.7% (21.7%) 25.2%
Average 16.3%(18.2%) 12.8%
Fair 3.2% (3.7%) 2.5%
Poor 3% (2.2%) 1.7%


Members seem pleased with video and audio content produced by their unions. Though it appears that barely half of all unions produce multimedia for the net, despite the widespread use of broadband connections which make this accessible to all.

Union produces multimedia content for the net?

Yes 54.7% (57%) 54.7%
Don’t know 27.6% (20.6%) 18.6%
No 17.7% (20.6%) 26.7%

How would you rate that content?

Good 50.5%( 50.1%) 59.8%
Excellent 22.2% (17.9%) 18.9%
Average 19.2% (24.3%) 15.2%
Poor 4.8% (4.6%) 3%
Fair 3.4% (3.1%) 3%


Of the five sites we named last year, four declined in popularity — with the decline of UnionBook being quite dramatic. (Only LabourStart held its own.) Radio Labour also fell by half, and is now only rated as useful by 6% of respondents. In some cases, I’m convinced that respondents were checking out these sites for the first time — we gave the URLs as part of the survey. It’s great to see that more than a third found the ILO website useful, but it’s hard to believe that they were regular visitors to it before the survey. One hopes that the survey will raise the awareness of great sites like Radio Labour, UnionJobs and the Global Labour Column, and that next year we might see these increase in popularity.

Useful pro-union websites and services

(Not asked in this form on the French survey)

LabourStart 94.7% (93.3%)
ILO 34%
UnionBook 21.8% (48%)
ITUC 20.8%
Global Unions 13.4%
UnionJobs 10.2% (15.2%)
Union Communication Services 7% (12.9%)
Radio Labour 6.3% (12.5%)
New Unionism Network 5.7%
Global Labour Column 4.5%


Written by admin in: Social networks,Surveys,Twitter,UnionBook |

100% increase in number of responses to annual survey

I’ll be closing down the annual survey of trade union use of the net in another 5 days and sent a reminder to our list yesterday about it.  For some reason, this has become the biggest survey we’ve ever done.  Last year’s got what we thought was a good number of responses – the best we’d ever done, really.  We had 1,336 people fill in the forms.  This year, it’s already up to 2,668 – and still going.  Thanks to Derek for reminding me to do this, and to Andy for taking the initiative to do a French version.  More details soon.

Written by admin in: Surveys |

Our survey after just 3 days: 30% bigger than last year, now in 2 languages

Last year’s first annual survey of trade unions and net generated 1,336 responses; this year’s has already considerably exceeded that after just 3 days. We’ve had 1,593 responses to the English version of the survey and another 154 to the French version for a total of 1,747, a growth of 30%. Please encourage union members in your country to sign up: English version / French version.

Written by admin in: Surveys |

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