Gokhan Bicici

Those of you who attended the LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Istanbul in 2011 may recognize some of the people in this photo.  That’s part of the organizing committee for the event.

The young man sitting on the far left of the photo is Gokhan Bicici.

He is the head of TAREM, an NGO that works closely with Turkish trade unions.

Gokhan played a central role in organizing our conference and he and I became friends.

Yesterday, he was brutally beaten and arrested by Turkish police as he was filming the demonstrations in Istanbul.

You can watch a shocking one-minute video of this here.

Please help us build the campaign – spread this URL around everywhere:



Written by admin in: 2011 conference,Campaigns |

Weekly round-up, 26-30.3.12

What I’ve been up to these last five days …

I’ve made serious improvements to the script that shows who is posting news to LabourStart. It now shows the correspondent’s full name and country, and totals for the day and month, making it much more useful I think. And I’ve made this more accessible – but only to correspondents who have logged in, who will see a link to it.

We learn from this that about 91 correspondents have been active in March, and they have collectively posted 4,491 news links to our database — an average of 49 each this month, and an average for all correspondents of nearly 150 news stories per day, every day. At this rate, we’re publishing over 50,000 news stories every year.

Yesterday, I met with Shane Enright, the trade union coordinator for Amnesty International, and we discussed joint work. Today, for example, Shane will be promoting our Iran campaign to the more than 11,000 names on Amnesty’s UK trade union mailing list.

I have begun adding papers submitted by the participants from the Middle East and North Africa to our 2011 conference page. These were sent to us by the Solidarity Center, and are in English, French and Arabic.

I did some initial work on an RSS news feed for Europe at the request of a British trade unionist — but it’s still buggy and needs to be fixed.

I worked on the mycampaigns.cgi script, which shows you which campaigns you’ve signed up and which you’ve missed – on the language editions. There are still character encoding problems which I will fix very soon.

The Hebrew edition of LabourStart needed to be fixed up after years of neglect, so I did such things as add links to all our campaigns in Hebrew, translated the names of countries when we’re displaying news, and made sure that all the text which had been in English (including a link to sign up to the mailing list) is now in Hebrew. I’ve also been posting Hebrew news every day (other correspondents have also posted) and am looking for news in Hebrew that’s not only from Israel — which is not easy to do. (Israeli media are, understandably, focussed almost entirely on domestic and regional news.)

I followed up with the Education International on the Bahrain campaign, which has been running for two months and is considerably less successful (in terms of support) than the Iran campaign. I always do these follow-ups two months after a campaign is launched.

I completed the publicity for the ITF’s New Zealand port lockout campaign which at one point looked like it was heading for 10,000 supporters, but has since slowed down and as of this morning has only 6,834 supporters.

I intensified efforts to continue building our largest campaign ever – the one in support of Abdolreza Ghanbari in Iran — which has now reached 15,883, growth of less than 1,000 in the last week. I hope that the Amnesty mailing today (see above) will make a difference.

I discovered that LabourStart is blocked in Iran, and was curious to see which other sites were blocked — and which were not. See the results here.


Weekly roundup, 16.3-25.3

Some of the things I’ve been working on over the last 9 days …

Brussels on Thursday: I already sent out a report to a number of you about my visit on Thursday to Brussels where I met with senior staff at the International Trade Union Confederation, the European Trade Union Confederation and the Education International.

Campaigns – closing: I closed the Fiat campaign, which did very well for us and got us a very large number of new Italian subscribers to our list.  We’ve gotten a report from the union (FIOM) which I’ll share with you.  I then closed down the Kazakhstan campaign (which we launched following the massacre of strikers in December) but have yet to receive a report on its impact.  It’s been something like 6 months now that we’ve consistently run campaigns in support of those strikers, generating thousands of messages.

Campaigns – starting: On Monday, I launched the Colombia campaign at the request of PSI and Unison.   On Friday, at the request of the ITF, we launched a campaign in support of locked-out New Zealand port workers.  On Saturday, I did work on our next campaign – in support of 800 locked out flower workers in Kenya.  Yes, I know — three campaigns in five days puts a strain on everyone, especially our translators.  We need to begin thinking of way to control this — a team of people who reviews campaigns and can tell a global union federation – sorry, no, not now.  I find it hard to do this by myself …

Campaigns – improvements to tracking, etc: I’ve made it easier to see archived and closed campaigns, and have moved the totals for reach active campaign up to the top of the page (right side), as previously we’d need to scroll all the way to the bottom to see these summaries.  This was needed as we started getting campaigns with more than 15,000 messages sent, making it harder to see the whole list and the summaries.  You can see an example of this here.

Coming up in the next few days: Complete setup of Kenya campaign. Publicity for this and the ITF New Zealand campaign.  Review of the Bahrain campaign after two months online.  Complete translations of mycampaign.cgi (which shows people which campaigns they’ve signed up to) into different languages.  Add to 2011 conference website some documents now sent to us by the Solidarity Center.  Create an RSS news feed for Europe, as requested by a British trade union official.  Meet with Amnesty International – on Thursday – to discuss joint actions.  Etc etc.

Written by admin in: 2011 conference,Campaigns |

LabourStart’s 2nd Annual Global Solidarity Conference – 18-20.11.11, Istanbul

Here are links to reports about the conference, videos and photos, audio recordings, slide shows and the texts of speeches. (more…)

Written by admin in: 2011 conference |

D-46: Conference preparations moving ahead …

Just some quick updates on our upcoming Global Solidarity Conference in Istanbul.

  • We received some three dozen requests for financial support – about half of them were incomplete.  I’ve written to all those who didn’t complete the form giving them another opportunity to do so.  The form itself is now closed.  I’ve shared a spreadsheet with details with our committee in Turkey and with several senior LabourStart correspondents.  We aim to reach a decision by the end of this week.
  • The Solidarity Center is committed to bringing about a dozen representatives of the new independent trade unions in the Middle East and North Africa.  We should have details this week.  We’re arranging for a Monday meeting, post-conference, for them – in the Taksim Square area.
  • ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow is preparing a video welcome to our conference.  We aim to have it subtitled in Turkish.
  • We’ve reached agreement on a list of workshops which we’ll publish at the end of this week. We also have an agreed timetable and more-or-less have settled on who will be the plenary speakers.
  • We’re still looking into arranging transportation from the conference hotel (in Taksim square) to the conference venue (Petrol Is); this may be done free of charge by the municipality.  If not, we’ll pay for a bus.
  • We now have three bids from different companies regarding interpretation – the first time we’ve ever had to do this at a LabourStart conference.  We’ll need to consider these and reach a decision shortly.
  • The organizing committee in Turkey is proposing a labour history walk around the Taksim square area on Friday before the conference opens, and a possible concert on Saturday evening.  Details to follow.
  • If you have not yet registered to attend, and not yet registered for the hotel, please do so now.
Written by admin in: 2011 conference |

Friday morning updates

  • We’ve resumed the book of the month. The next mass mailing will feature it. Today, social media was used to publicize. This month, it’s Joe Hill.
  • ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow has agreed to open our conference with a video message. She can’t be there, but this is the next best thing. We hope to get the message in time to allow us to subtitle it in Turkish (and Arabic?)
  • Our first app for a smartphone is nearly ready (within 24 hours). If you have a Nokia smartphone, let me know. We have submitted something to their app store. (The iOS and Adroid versions are in the works.)
  • We’ve sent a long message to PSI about their Korea campaign with suggestions about how to revive it after two months online. Some 3,000 of the 3,200 messages were sent in the first week.
  • At the request of our Russian comrades, we’ve now closed down the Valentin Urusov campaign. We may need to revive it later this year, as he is still in jail.
  • We will almost certainly have a campaign focussed on India next week (in support of Suzuki workers).  We’re waiting for final approval from the IMF.
  • Work on the upcoming Global Solidarity Conference is going well, if a bit behind the scenes at the moment. I have weekly phone conferences with our staffer in Istanbul, Eyup. This Monday, we’ll begin the process of approving who gets subsidies. I have made special efforts in the last week to encourage participation from Jordan, Palestine, Iraq and Georgia.
  • We have a much more prominent signup form on our home page now for our mailing list (in English only at the moment). This will be an important feature of our site redesign, which will begin probably just after our conference ends.
  • We have a new newswire for Fiji – created at the request of the Australian unions, who are using it.
  • I’ve upgraded our Facebook group – not sure exactly what that means, but people now need to be approved to join and there’s a lot more activity there than before.
  • UnionBook has reverted to much more staid colors after a pink and purple phase. No one seems to have noticed …

Back at my desk after a month …

And focussed on one thing above all others: the LabourStart conference in Turkey which begins in another nine weeks (63 days) from today.

Expect to see progress on this from today reported on the conference website.

Yes, there are many other things to do as well (my Toodledo account lists 125 LabourStart tasks), but the conference takes priority.

Written by admin in: 2011 conference |

Back at my desk – Fiji; Istanbul

While on holiday I managed to launch an ActNOW campaign in support of the embattled trade unions of Fiji – at the request of the British TUC and ITUC. Even without the normally extensive LabourStart publicity, it has already gotten 2,184 messages sent and was translated (without prompting by me) into two languages. Today I asked 11 other volunteer translators to get to work on it, and am beginning our own publicity blitz.

Update: Following our publicity blitz, support is increasing.  Here are the latest totals as of 10:00 London time (Wednesday), 12 hours later  –

  • 4,213 supporters
  • 730 recommendations on Facebook

A lot remains undone for our upcoming Global Solidarity Conference – this will be my top priority in the next week. I leave next Wednesday, 7 September, for Istanbul, where I’ll be meeting with our Turkish comrades and we’ll try to fix all outstanding issues.

Written by admin in: 2011 conference,Campaigns |

Coming soon: Online registration for Istanbul hotel

I hope this will be up later today so that we can begin registering for rooms. Stay tuned – watch this space.

Written by admin in: 2011 conference |

100 days to go

Our conference opens in Istanbul in another 14 weeks and 2 days, and while of course there is still an enormous amount to do, we have made some progress.  Today I’d like to focus on what’s gone right so far:

  • We have a steering committee up and running in Istanbul and I’m confident that they’ll do an excellent job.  I will meet with them on 7 September.
  • We now have a conference hotel at a great price – more details coming soon.
  • We secured a great conference venue – at Petrol-Is, the oil workers union.
  • 108 people have registered so far – 40 of them say they can pay their own way.  Of those 40, 29 are from outside Turkey, so those plus the ones we expect via the Solidarity Center bring us up to nearly 40 — getting very close to our goal of 50 participants from outside Turkey.
  • We have a significant number of workshop proposals which we need to refine and finalize.
  • We have tentative commitments from one, possibly two, very senior international trade union leaders to speak at the event.
  • At the meeting of global union federations in Istanbul in September, we have a slot to talk about the conference and to encourage participation from GUFs.  We already have commitments for participation from the IUF, IMF, ITF, and others.
Written by admin in: 2011 conference |

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