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
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
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 |
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.

Jan
31
2019
0

New year – new campaigns, with 3 launched in the last 2 weeks

Bangladesh: We shared the story about the garment strikers being sacked widely on a social media, and as a top global news story.

Brazil: We shared the BWI/IndustriALL statement on Vale and the dam disaster on social media and as a top global news story.

Canada: We did a mailing to our Canadian supporters in support of the UFCW.

Germany: We shared widely on social media and as a top global news story the Education International story about a joint German/Polish/Israeli teachers’ event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Guatemala: We launched a new campaign at the request of PSI.

Iran: At the request of Amnesty International, we shared their campaign as a top global labour news story, and across social media. Earlier, we publicised the re-arrest of Iranian trade unionist Esmail Bakhshi at the request of one of our correspondents in New Zealand.

Korea: We launched a new campaign at the request of PSI.

Philippines: At the request of the Education International, we launched a campaign. It is now live in 15 languages.

South Africa: We shared a COSATU general strike story widely on social media.

Sudan: We publicised a story about Sudanese protests – led by the doctors’ union – as a top global news story and across social media.

Thailand: Noting the low participation rates for the Thai language version of the campaign, we wrote to the ITF and they have contacted the local union to ensure broader support.

Tunisia: We shared our coverage of the general strike widely on social media.

UK: We added a new correspondent.

USA: We shared the Labor Notes story about victory in LA teachers’ strike across social media, and as a top global news story.

Labour Photo of the Year: We began discussing the possibility of reviving this competition.

Mailing lists: We added 211 campaign supporters to our lists.

Coding issues: There was a fairly long to-do list here, but we’ve managed to cross a few of the items off the list.
We managed to fix the repeating text in the left column of country news pages in French — this was a particular problem for the Canadian news page.
We also fixed a problem with the display of labour history items in French on the Canada page.
We fixed our news page to ensure that when clicking on a state or province, you are taken to the new page and the correct language (this was previously hard-coded to English).
We fixed it so that all countries that have directories named after them now point to the correct pages, e.g., www.labourstart.org/cuba.
We fixed the display of country names in the centre column on the Spanish page.
We changed the campaign page to offer a radio button with yes/no options for joining the mailing list. Some campaigning organisations, including Britain’s TUC, have found that this increases the number of people who opt-in to mailing lists.
We fixed the problem which would arise when people adding commas to their names when supporting our campaigns; this breaks the syntax for sending emails, and has lead to some bounces recently.

Jan
16
2019
0

Our first campaign of the new year launched

The first two weeks of the new year have seen a surge of activity, including a new campaign in support of railway workers in Thailand.

Australia: We shared the story about the Australian government documents and the MUA dispute as a top global news story and on social media.

Bangladesh: We promoted UNI’s story on the garment workers strike as a top global news story, and across social media.

Finland: We had a meeting in London with one of our most active and veteran Finnish correspondents, and discussed future collaboration.

Hungary: Following up on our campaign in December, we shared the story about the ongoing protests and upcoming strike in Hungary as a top global news story and on social media.

India: We had exemplary coverage of the general strike, which was possibly the largest strike in human history, both as top global news stories and across social media.

Korea: We promoted a story about the dramatic end of a smokestack sit-in as a top global news story and across social media.

New Zealand: We welcomed a new correspondent.

Thailand: We launched a new campaign at the request of the ITF, our first campaign of 2019. After just six days online, it has over 5,000 supporters and appears in 12 languages with more on the way.

UK: We helped a UK charity promote their annual campaigner prize, asking our supporters to suggest candidates. LabourStart won the prize two years ago.

Ukraine: We promoted a story about women mine workers in Ukraine on hunger strike as a top global news story, and across social media.

USA: We shared the story about Tesla’s unwillingness to buy a GM plant in Youngstown because it’s unionised – as a top priority global news story, and across social media. We also promoted the story about the Florida McDonald’s walkout across social media and as a top global news story. And we gave a lot of coverage to the ongoing Los Angeles teachers’ strike, both as top global story and across social media.

Zimbabwe: The ITUC Zimbabwe story is promoted as a top global story, and shared widely on social media.

Executive: The members of LabourStart’s Executive held their first quarterly videoconference following up three months later on the decisions taken in Barcelona. They discussed, among other things, the addition of new members to the Executive and a global conference in 2019. More details coming soon.

Internationalisation: We focussed on Spanish and began moving toward a translation of the interface for adding news, as well as a signup page for new correspondents in that language. We also fixed the problem of showing country news in Spanish for countries with spaces in the names (e.g., Costa Rica). But we need to fix this for other languages too and will do this shortly.

Mailing lists: We imported 192 new subscribers to our lists in the first two weeks of the new year. We raised the question of how to grow mailing lists in the post-GDPR era to the e-campaigning forum and received some helpful ideas, which we will be implementing in our campaigning platform.

Dec
31
2018
0

Final update for 2018: A setback in Hungary ends a year of activism

I thought I’d get off an update before 2018 ends. Here’s what we’ve been up to for the last 12 days:

Cambodia: We publicised the story about 95 NGOs condemning convictions of union leaders in Cambodia, sharing it widely on social media and as a top global news story on LabourStart.

Canada: Our CUPW campaign got a boost, in part due to the Hungary mailing (see below), picking up 653 new supporters in the last week, and becoming our largest active campaign. It currently has 8,412 supporters and we may be able to push this up to 10,000.

China: A new campaign has been suggested to us; we’re waiting to see if a partner can be found.

Global: Today, we shared the IFJ’s news report about 94 journalists being killed this year both as a top global news story on LabourStart, and across social media.

Hungary: We closed our campaign eight days ago, after the President signed the “slave law”. The campaign was only live for five days, got 7,288 supporters, and appeared in 13 languages. The Hungarian unions gave us a text to use to sum up what happened. We followed this with a mass mailing to all our lists reporting on this setback (because we make a point of being honest and transparent, and we share good news and bad). The mailing encouraged people to support our other active campaigns, to follow us on social media, and to donate — two days before Christmas. Because of that, response rates were low.

India: We shared a story about the 30,000 strong farmers’ “long march” as a top global news story, and on social media, as well as making it our photo of the week. We did the same with a story about a hunger strike by Indian teachers.

Philippines: We shared a story about a protest camp story as a top global news story and across social media.

UK: We supported the TUC’s campaign in support of restaurant workers at TGIF with a mass mailing to our UK list.

Zimbabwe: We promoted our Zimbabwe news page with its stories about the hospital strike as a top global story and across social media.

Correspondents & Translators: We wrote an end of year message to all correspondents and translators – especially to encourage inactive correspondents to contribute again, and to encourage inactive translators for specific languages to get involved again. In that message I was able to point out some interesting (to me) numbers:

As of today, our correspondents have posted over 45,000 news stories this year on LabourStart. That’s 124 stories every day, on average.

There were a total of 107 active correspondents this year, posting about 421 stories each, more than one every day.

LabourStart’s news is read by tens of thousands of trade unionists. This year we had 791,732 visitors to the web site. Many trade unionists depend on LabourStart to keep them up to date with what is in happening in the international trade union movement.

Internationalisation: We fixed the home page in French to work like the one in English, which means that Canadian stories no longer dominate the top of the page.

Mailing lists: In an end of year boost, we added 672 new subscribers to our lists – most in English and Russian.

Nov
20
2018
0

November update: 2 campaigns launched, we revitalise LS in Spanish, German, Swedish, etc

Brazil: Following the election, we promoted the EI story about Brazil as a top global news story and across social media.

China: We promoted the story about a Chinese firm that forced workers to eat cockroaches and drink urine – as a top global news story, and on social media. Two officials at the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions signed up as LabourStart correspondents.

Germany: We renewed our Twitter account in German, and are posting to it every day. We now follow well over 400 other accounts and some of those have started following back, and as a result, this month we’ve picked up about 20 new followers. It’s a beginning.

India: We shared the ITUC story on erosion of labour laws in India as a top global news story and widely on social media. We also participated in a London meeting of various NGOs and campaigning organisations in the UK in support of workers in the tea plantations of Assam; the organisers of the event publicly thanked LabourStart for promoting their campaign targetting UK tea companies.

Indonesia: We shared the IUF story on Coca-Cola struggle as a top global news story and widely on social media.

Kazakhstan: We launched a new campaign at the request of many global and national unions to protest the repression of trade unionists here. In the first 5 days online, the campaign has over 3,600 supporters and appears in 11 languages.

Philippines: We shared a story about a trade unionist being killed in the Philippines on social media.

Spain: We are in discussion with one of the national trade union centres about a possible campaign, to be launched soon.

Sweden: We resume doing mailings to our Swedish list now that our campaigns are once again being translated into Swedish. We now have 7 volunteer translators for Swedish.

Thailand: We launched a new campaign at the request of IndustriALL to protest the behaviour of Mitsubishi Electric. After 12 days online, the campaign is in 13 languages and has over 5,450 supporters.

Turkey: We shared the ITUC story on the murder of a trade union leader as a top global news story and widely on social media. Our campaign in support of workers at Istanbul’s new airport, launched six weeks ago, is now in 23 languages, and has almost 8,700 supporters.

UK: We had a long meeting at Unite the Union’s headquarters to discuss future joint work. We created a meme in support of RMT strikers on the London Underground and post it on social media. It is very widely shared.

Finances: We thanked TUAC for their generous donation. Amazon has begun to pay us — finally — for books we have published using their CreateSpace platform and Kindle.

Internationalisation: We’re getting our campaigns framework translated into Kurdish and Nepalese and we had a campaign translated for the first time in a long time into Arabic. The Spanish home page now has all country names translated into Spanish, where we are now showing top global news stories, as we do in some other languages. Derek has also begun tweeting in Spanish.

Mailing lists: We added 93 new subscribers, who opted-in from campaigns.

News: We fixed the link that allows correspondents to change their default language and country, and tested it.

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