Oct
29
2020
0

New campaign in Belarus; our first album; “Alexa, play LabourStart” and more …

We last updated this blog two weeks ago — and what a fortnight it has been!

CAMPAIGNS:

We launched a new campaign demanding the release of jailed trade unionists in Belarus; after just six days online it is already our 5th largest active campaign (out of 9) and could easily grow into our largest. In addition to all the usual publicity, I wrote about it in my weekly column for Solidarity, which was shared widely.

Jailed trade unionists in Belarus.

Jailed trade unionists in Belarus.

Soon we’ll do followups after a week online and this should give it a big boost; our recent Myanmar campaign grew by about 25% thanks to that second wave of publicity, so this will almost certainly result in the campaign reaching 7,000 supporters, if not many more.

We now have 9 live campaigns, and here they are listed in order of the number of supporters and including the date they were launched:

1 Belarus: Stop the violence – defend democracy and human rights – 21-Aug-2020 – 7412
2 Myanmar: Stop union-busting at sporting goods company – 14-Oct-2020 – 7033
3 Colombia: Support miners striking against the ‘death shift’ at Cerrejón – 01-Oct-2020 – 6733
4 Albania: Solidarity with the miners – end repression now – 12-Dec-2019 – 6544
5 Belarus: Free union leaders and activists – 23-Oct-2020 – 5862
6 Jordan: Release leaders of the Jordanian Teacher Association – 10-Aug-2020 – 5838
7 Cambodia: Free jailed union leaders now – 24-Aug-2020 – 5729
8 India: Workers’ rights under attack – 13-Jun-2020 – 5678
9 Ukraine: Support miners in their fight for decent conditions – 18-Sep-2020 – 5346

We have another campaign in the pipeline from Israel, involving young workers and a major transnational company.

To help raise awareness of how successful we are with these campaigns, we’ve been sharing the translated PDFs of our campaign victories across social media, showing a new language every other day.

MAILING LISTS:

Our lists grew significantly in the last two weeks, as we added 822 new subscribers, mostly to the English list. (If we continue at this pace, we’ll pick up 21,000 new subscribers in the next year.) We also added 239 new subscribers to our Belarusian list yesterday, which previously had just 18 subscribers.

In an effort to raise awareness of our new campaigns in Punjabi (every campaign is now translated into that language, which is spoken by 125 million people), we did a mailing to 1,400 people from India and Pakistan on our English mailing list — and invited their help to translate our campaigns into other languages in that region.

FUNDRAISING:

We completed a 4-week campaign to sell our “Workers’ Rights are Human Rights” union-made t-shirts and increased sales from 130 to 230 by the time the campaign ended. The company which is producing the t-shirts (CustomInk) has already paid us our share, including many individual donations over and above the cost of the shirts.

People should begin receiving their shirts in the next 10 days and we wrote to everyone who ordered, suggesting that people post photos of themselves in the shirts on social media, which we can then share.

Our best-selling LabourStart t-shirt.

Because of problems some people were having with PayPal — and a reluctance by some to use PayPal on principle — we’ve added an alternative way to donate to LabourStart (Transferwise) to our donations page, and have suggested it to some individuals. We’ll mention this the next time we try to raise money. Transferwise allows easy international bank transfers as well as credit and debit card payments, with no need to sign up for an account.

We received generous donations from CUPE in Canada and the Education International, as well as pledges from both the ITUC and ETUC.

David Thorpe, a British entertainer and long-time supporter of LabourStart, has released an album with his band and is generously donating 30% of the proceeds to LabourStart. We’ll shortly be publicising this.

David Thorpe.

David Thorpe.

TELEGRAM:

Some time ago we set up a public channel on this network, which is widely used by pro-democracy protestors in Belarus, Hong Kong and Thailand. Two weeks ago, it had just 26 subscribers and we had not been posting to it. We’ve now revived it, and there are 137 subscribers now. We’ve begun posting regularly to this group — mostly events, new campaigns, and our photo of the week. We hope we can grow this by several hundred in the next few weeks.

INSTAGRAM:

This is another social network that we had not been using — but we now have an account and a page there, and already have 100 followers. Anyone who wants to help post images and texts there is invited to volunteer.

SMART SPEAKERS:

Tens of millions of people now use smart speakers (most notably Amazon echo, but there are others including Google Home and Apple’s Siri) to play music, listen to the news, etc. We now have a rudimentary LabourStart ‘skill’ which reads out (and shows on-screen) the latest top global labour news stories, updated every day. We should have a public version of this ready in the next few days.

LabourStart news - on an Amazon Echo device.

LabourStart news – on an Amazon Echo device.

AND FROM AROUND THE WORLD …

Armenia and Azerbaijan: We’ve given extensive coverage to the international and local trade union responses to the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, and now regularly report on the region. I wrote about this in a recent column for Solidarity.

Canada: LabourStart will be sponsoring a prize in CLIFF – the labour film festival.

Georgia: We’re reached out and gotten agreement from the Georgian Trade Union Confederation to resume translating all our campaigns and mailings into Georgian. We’ve also reached out (twice) to our five inactive correspondents in Georgia, and will soon try to recruit more. We’ve also shared a document on how to do global labour solidarity conferences with the GTUC, as we consider Tbilisi as a possible venue for such a conference in late 2021.

Singapore: A local union activist reached out to us and we had a very long discussion, including ways in which LabourStart can be helpful, particularly in supporting exploited migrant workers there.

USA: We continue to reach out to unions, including the mineworkers and farmworkers, and expect to shortly hold a live event online with the latter.

Oct
15
2020
0

Victory in Zimbabwe; 3 new campaigns launched; fundraising success

Apologies for the delay in getting out this report, which covers September and the first half of October. It’s been a very busy time with many new campaigns, some defeats and one wonderful victory, a successful fundraiser and ongoing issues with our mailing lists. Here are some highlights …

Miners in Ukraine take their struggle underground.

Campaigns:

We launched a campaign in support of garment workers in Myanmar on 14 October, miners in Colombia on 1 October, and miners in Ukraine on 18 September. The Colombia campaign very quickly became our second largest live campaign.
In late September, we closed our campaign in support of nurses in Zimbabwe after winning a big victory. As PSI wrote to us, “After 3 months of industrial action, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association has called the strike off in a reciprocation of the gestures of goodwill that have been made by the new health Minister, Constantino Chiwenga.”
The Turkey (Deriteks) campaign was closed after 3 months, without a good result for the workers and the Indonesia campaign was also closed after the Omnibus bill was passed – a defeat for the workers.
We closed our Poland, Malaysia, Czech Republic and Peru campaigns, but have not yet heard back from the sponsoring unions with any details of the results.
All of our campaigns have now been translated in Punjabi for the first time. Punjabi has also been added as a language for adding news to LabourStart.
We made a minor change to our campaigns page forcing users to choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question of whether they want to be on our mailing list in the hope that this will boost sign-ups.
We’ve also prepared some PDFs in a number of languages highlighting several of our campaign victories in the last year and a half. These were shared in mass mailings to some of our lists.

Our best-selling LabourStart t-shirt.

Fundraising:

We had a very good fundraising drive starting on 8 September, raising over £25,000.
This included sales of over 130 t-shirts, starting on 24 September.
Our next fundraiser will take place in January.

Mailing lists:

Following some problems with Amazon (which Sendy uses to send out our messages), we have returned to use Mailchimp. We had some issues with both services, but these are now resolved with Mailchimp (though not yet with Amazon). We have noticed a significant increase in opens and clicks in Mailchimp compared to Sendy – including a 28% boost in opens for one of our lists, and we’re hopeful that this will lead to even larger campaigns.

7 October – World Day for Decent Work (WDDW):

We tagged news stories related to this, created a page modelled on the Covid-19 page, and wrote to all correspondents about this. We shared the link to this page across social media.
We also assisted the ITUC with a big promotion of their new Democracy Pledge campaign.

USA:

We now have a list of over 1,000 US trade unionists and have written to them twice. In addition, we’ve contacted leaders of the United Mine Workers to win their support for our campaigns for the miners in Belarus and Ukraine.

Jul
07
2020
0

5 campaigns launched this month

Since 1 June, we’ve been busy.

Brazil: We launched a campaign in support of Santander workers at the request of UNI Global Union — one of five campaigns we launched in the last month. It is our most successful campaign ever in the Portuguese language, with more than 1,000 supporters in the first few days. It is also on track to be our largest current campaign, with 7,162 supporters and still counting.

Czech Republic: We launched a campaign in support of Ryanair workers at the request of the European Transport Workers Federation. It is also picking up a larger number of supporters than usual and today has 6,603 supporters.

India: We launched a campaign at the request of a number of global unions including the ITUC to protest the new attacks on workers’ rights.  It has 4,456 supporters today.

Kyrgyzstan: We’ve publicised the arrest of a trade union leader and are exploring the launch of a new campaign.

Malaysia: We launched a campaign in support of hospital workers, which has also now been translated into the Malay language.  The campaign has 3,618 supporters.

Mexico: We raised the possibility of doing a campaign in support of a jailed labour lawyer and are still waiting to hear if there is interest.

Palestine: We are in discussions about the launch of new campaign.

Peru: We launched a new campaign to urge Falabella (a Chilean multinational home retailer) to reinstate 22 workers who have been dismissed for asking for better protection against Covid-19, at the request of UNI.  This campaign has 6,055 supporters

Philippines: We shared the IUF campaign in support of Coca-Cola workers widely through mass mailings, our website and social media.

Poland: We are awaiting to hear back from UNI about suspending our campaign here, which has been live for some six months already.

USA: We sent out a mailing to our English list in support of a campaign by farm workers union FLOC.

Campaigns: We noticed that we were having a problem with our script that shows campaigns — it was taking very long to load campaigns. We fixed this by removing the live counter, and later replacing this with one that is updated manually a few times a day. Loading speeds are now much faster, and this is probably contributing to increased support for our campaigns.

Correspondents: Now that we have completely cleared the email backlog from the last few months (yes — inbox zero at last), there are no longer any individuals waiting to become LabourStart correspondents. A total of 43 new correspondents signed up in the first half of 2020, and of these 10 have already posted news.

Country names: This has been an issue for some time as quite a few countries have changed their names in the last few years (most recently, North Macedonia and eSwatini); we have developed a work plan to solve this issue across both our news and campaigns platforms.

Donations: The European Transport Workers Federation has made a generous donation.

Global Labour University: We have been approached to make a presentation about LabourStart to their students later this month.

Health & Safety: We have new Health & Safety news pages in many languages and these have been promoted across the net. We’ve encouraged all correspondents to make use of this, posting and tagging health & safety news.

Interns: We are working with the Industrial and Labour Relations school at Cornell University about getting interns and they are enthusiastic to work with us on this.

LinkedIn: Our Group there continues to grow, despite the fact that we do nothing to promote it, and we picked up over 60 new members this month. Most of what we post to Facebook and Twitter is also posted here.

Mailing lists: We imported 1,107 new subscribers during the last two weeks (and two more imports in early June as well), with large groups joining the English and Portuguese lists.

Feb
05
2020
0

New campaign in support of German workers, victory in Indonesia

It’s been six weeks since this page was last updated – we’ll be resuming regular updates from today. For this update, we’ll organise the news by country.

Cambodia:
We closed our campaign in all 18 languages after 6 months; it had 6,012 supporters. This did not end in a win.

Germany:
We launched a campaign in support of Ver.di members at Ameos, which has been doing some union busting. After just a few days online, it had over 4,600 supporters.

Striking workers at Ameos.

Ghana:
A student at the Global Labour University from Ghana (and currently based in Germany) is likely to begin work for us shortly for a few weeks as an intern.

Indonesia:
We closed the campaign (which had 5,638 supporters) because Rio has been set free, but we are waiting to hear the results of his upcoming court appearance before issuing a public statement to our lists.

Kazakhstan:
We have asked if we can close this campaign after three months and are awaiting a response.

Russia:
During a four-day visit to Moscow in January, we led a workshop with trade unions affiliated to KTR, the labour federation. We were also interviewed by the trade union newspaper Solidarnosc. We also discussed with our Russian comrades the possibility of a regional or global conference.

Switzerland:
We met with Dan Gallin of the Global Labour Institute in Geneva to discuss a second volume of his writings (we published the first in 2016).

UK:
We met with the new director of communications at the London-based International Transport Workers Federation in London and discussed our joint work. The ITF also made a generous donation to LabourStart this year.
We met with the new General Secretary of the teachers’ union, NASUWT. This union plays a very active role in international solidarity campaigns.

USA:
We have ordered a quarter page advertisement in the program of the upcoming Labor Notes conference in Chicago.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Fund-raising,Publications |
Dec
26
2019
2

Three new campaigns launched in December

Campaigns: We launched three new campaigns in December:

In support of dockworkers in Indonesia, at the request of the ITF. That campaign has 4,405 supporters and appears in 9 languages, with more on the way.
In support of Albanian mine workers at the request of a new and independent union there. That campaign has 5,951 supporters and appears in 13 languages, with more on the way.
In support of Polish retail workers, at the request of UNI. That campaign has 6,944 supporters and appears in 15 languages.

We closed our South Korea campaign after the workers won a clear victory. That was a short campaign and there were 5,377 supporters and the campaign appeared in 12 languages.
We asked if there was a need for a campaign in support a jailed trade union leader in Algeria and were told no. We also asked if LabourStart should be promoting an existing campaign regarding El Salvador but have received no reply.
On 10 December, Human Rights Day, we did a special website (and yes, I did notice that the year is wrong) and mailing (in English only), sharing this widely on our own site and across social media, to promote our existing campaigns.
We had a large number of bouncing target email addresses which were forwarded to us by our web hosts (and in some cases, via Gmail); we have now deleted these from campaigns. These are mostly companies trying to block our messages. We get around this using our petition format.

Correspondents: We amended the message new correspondents receive so that they are now encouraged to have a phone conversation with us early on. This is one of a number of steps we are taking to ensure that correspondents remain active.
We also fixed the ‘show news by correspondent’ script which was not correctly rendering non-Latin characters, as was pointed out by a new Iranian correspondent.
We added new correspondents in Australia and Iran.

Donations: We received a very generous donation from the IUF.

Labour History database: We fixed a problem that had previously blocked users from deleting duplicate entries.

Mailing lists: Today, we added 454 new subscribers from our campaign supporters on 26.12; the largest groups were English (301) and Polish (78). On 16.12, we imported 208 new subscribers, 148 of those for the English list. On 11.12, we imported 665 new subscribers; 266 of these were Korean, 219 English and 112 Polish. That’s a total of 1,327 new subscribers added in the last 15 days.

Media: We have begun work on a media list, with individuals tagged by country and language. Next year we will begin using this list to amplify our campaigns to read a wider audience.

News: We fixed the left column in the new version of the website to show country names in the correct language, where available. (This was already working on the top of the page, and on the bottom.) This may not work for all languages just yet. We also fixed the links on the top of the page and in the left column to go to the country page rather than the old ‘show_news’ page.

Translators: We sent an end-of-year thank you message to all 71 volunteer translators, who’ve translated some 20 campaigns for us throughout 2019.

Dec
03
2019
--

New campaigns in Korea, Poland

I’m trying to keep up with weekly updates, so here’s what’s been happening over the last 6 days …

Korean campaign:
This campaign was launched four days ago and already has 3,950 supporters and it appears in 11 languages. The Korean language version has done very well thanks to the union there promoting it — it now has 568 supporters, or 14% of the total.

Poland campaign:
This was just received today from UNI Global Union and will go live later today or tomorrow morning.

Philippines campaign:
This is currently our largest campaign (by far) with 6,900 supporters, appearing in 16 languages. That’s a gain of over 200 new supporters in the last 6 days.

Global unions:
We had a long phone call with the incoming ITF director of communications and discussed how we will work together in future.
Following up on Eric’s visit to Brussels, the Education International made a generous donation.

Mailing lists:
We’ve asked for help, as we need something set up to allow scheduled mailings. Otherwise, everything is working very well with Sendy after a month on our new server.

Correspondents:
We sent out an appeal to our Australian list for volunteers; so far, three people have stepped forward.

Software:
We had a glitch on our show-campaigns-as-petition script, but this has now been fixed. This is a useful tool when we are blocked by a target employer or government, and need to present the signatures as a petition which can be printed out.

Nov
27
2019
0

6 days of activity

I didn’t want to be late again, so here’s a report on the last 6 days of activity at LabourStart.

Campaigns:

Philippines – This is now our largest current campaign, with 6,695 supporters. The campaign appears in 16 languages. The EI is doing good work promoting it through local affiliates.  Unusually, we did a followup mailing after one week to the entire English list, including to those who supported the campaign. As a result of these efforts, we picked up over 1,300 new supporters in just a few days. We also got the campaign and mailing translated into German by the Education International, and the mailing also went out to our small Czech and Slovak lists.

Kazakhstan – The Slovak mailing was sent out.

Korea – The ITF is proposing a new campaign to us; more details in a few days.

Poland – UNI has asked about a new campaign here; we are waiting for more details from them.

Hong Kong – There was a proposal for a campaign, but it is now on hold per the request of the local union.

Donations: BWI has made a generous donation, as promised. The other promised donations from global unions have not yet come through.

Mailing lists: We’ve fixed all our home pages that include links to sign up to the mailing list to now point to our new lists on our server. It should be pointed out that very few signups to the list take place this way; nearly all the new subscribers join by supporting a campaign.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Fund-raising,Mailing list |
Nov
21
2019
0

An overdue update – but lots to report!

This update is a couple of weeks overdue – sorry. But the good news is that … there’s lots of good news.  Let’s start with our campaigns.

Philippines campaign: We launched this last week at the request of the Education International. After 6 days online, it appears in 13 languages and has 4,773 supporters.

Kazakhstan campaign: After 20 days, this is live in 12 languages and has 4,871 supporters.

Cambodia campaign: We were asked to keep this live until the end of this year. The campaign appears in 18 languages and has 5,802 supporters.

Turkey campaign: After more than three months online, we closed the campaign in support of municipal workers in Alia?a. It had 6,833 supporters.

We also helped the IUF promote their new Coca-Cola and Cambodia campaigns.

Mailing lists: Following the sudden collapse on 31 October of the company which hosted our mailing lists (Sendy Hosting), we were able to migrate them all to our own server in the UK. We continue to use the same software (Sendy), but this was still a time-consuming process. We have begun fixing the sign up links so that everywhere points to the new, self-hosted version of Sendy which we are using. We picked up 186 new subscribers this month — people who supported our campaigns.

Global union federations: Eric travelled to Brussels to meet with the general secretary and staff at the Education International, and also had meetings with senior IUF staff in London and Geneva.

Other meetings: Eric also met with the chief executive of the Society of Authors in the UK to discuss possible campaigns, and with the Open Societies Foundations in London. We also have an ongoing conversation with the Wage Indicator Foundation in the Netherlands about possible cooperation.

Japan: With the move of one of our correspondents to Tokyo, we will be renewing our efforts in Japan, and the first step is likely going to be a translation of our ‘About LabourStart’ page to introduce our project.

Liberia: We had relatively long email conversation about building a website for the country’s unions.

USA: We had an email conversation with FLOC about helping them with their next campaigns. We also promoted widely news of the victory at Wendt — which had been the subject of a LabourStart campaign last year.  We heard back from Labor Notes and are pursuing possibilities relating to LabourStart panels or workshops at their conference in Chicago in April.

Next book: Following a meeting with Dan Gallin in Geneva, we agreed to move forward on a second collection of his essays about the international labour movement.

Donations: We received a generous donation from EPSU, the European region of PSI, and pledges from two more global union federations.

Oct
18
2019
0

Half-way into the competition, we have more than 30 new LabourStart logos

New logo competition: We have already received more than 30 entries for our first-ever international logo competition and with two weeks to go, we expect to get quite a few more. We continue to remind people regularly about the deadline – 31 October. Our message and the page explaining the competition is now out in 16 languages.

Campaigns: We’re still waiting on news about a possible Colombia campaign. We had a Korea campaign proposed to us, but it turned out to be not suitable for LabourStart.  We are currently running two campaigns, one of which is set to close shortly.

World Day for Decent Work: We did our bit to promote this ITUC and GUF-supported event, with top global news stories on our site and publicity across social media.

Svensson prize: Once again, we publicised the deadline for nominations to the annual Arthur Svennson prize for international trade union rights — to our English and Norwegian lists.

Education International: Eric Lee has been invited to come to Brussels next month to speak with EI staff about online campaigning.

Tech problems: Our campaigns website was briefly down earlier this week — causing problems for our home page to display — but it was swiftly put back online by our provider.

Activists’ Toolbox: We did the third one, this time promoting Simplenote and Joplin — great apps for creating, well, simple notes on one’s phone or computer. We continue to get a certain amount of interest in these apps, and in the most recent mailing we generated a page on Simplenote to demonstrate how it can create web pages – and showing all our Toolbox articles in one place.

Donations: Four global union federations have responded to our appeal with generous donations in the last week.  We hope that more will follow suit in the coming days.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Fund-raising,Site redesign |
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.

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