The last two weeks of 2015

Arthur Svensson prize: At the very last minute, LabourStart got nominated for this prestigious prize sponsored by a Norwegian union. Nominations came in from Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Sweden the UK, and at least three global union federations.


  • Annual report – I’ve written a draft annual report and shared it with members of the LabourStart Executive and am waiting for their responses before releasing a public version.
  • Egypt – we’ve had a campaign request from the CTUWS; they need to edit their text further and we can then launch it.
  • China – we launched a major new campaign at the request of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.
  • Iran – at the request of the Education International, this campaign was suspended.
  • Kyrgyzstan – I’ve once again asked IndustriALL for permission to close this campaign after 4 months; they had earlier asked for an extension.

Fundraising: We received an additional donation from the FDHT in Geneva, and have submitted a detailed proposal to UNISON in the UK. We’re also following up with GUFs which have not donated for more than a year.

Global solidarity conference: See above.

International Institute for Social History (Amsterdam): I was one of three external “experts” brought in last month to discuss with archivists there the IISH’s collection of labour and socialist archives. Ways LabourStart and the IISH can work together were also discussed.

Twitter: The company has launched a new initiative called Moments which aims to reproduce something like the Facebook news stream; they are looking for content providers to act as partners. I made contact with a senior Twitter executive about this and we’ve exchanged a couple of emails about possibilities.

Wikipedia: LabourStart’s page is under threat. I’ve reported this to members of our Executive and hope that we can take the necessary steps to prevent its deletion.


The week in review – 24-29 April

book2The Global Labour Movement – An Introduction: We’ve now completed the work on this, awaiting delivery of 100 copies to sell at our book launch on 4th May in London. Andy has been sent the text for possible translation into French.  You can order copies already – here.

Campaigning Online and Winning: We distributed 769 copies so far, of which 44 were free copies and 725 were sales. (77 were in French and 692 in English).

Campaigns – new: On Friday, 26 April, we launched an urgent action campaign at the request of IndustriALL in response to the disastrous building collapse in Bangladesh. I’ve added some text about the campaign to the Wikipedia entry and hope to continue to use Wikipedia in future to publicize our campaigns.

Campaigns – closed: We closed the Korea campaign. Still waiting to hear from the KGEU about what effect, if any, it had.

Campaigns – overhaul: I’ve successfully migrated our campaigns from the old, flat ASCII (text) database to a relational database using MySQL. Now I’m working on correcting the script that shows campaigns to show this one instead.

News – by country: I’ve changed the sort order so the most recent stories now appear first.

News – posting: Now when you modify a news story posted by someone else (senior correspondents only) it will not change the name of the correspondent who originally posted the story.

2014 LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Berlin: Edd has begun work on this.

May Day party in London (Saturday, 4th May): We’re up to 227 yes/maybe. Edd and I visited the venue last week.


Weekly roundup, 21-28 May

Could you all have a look at the blog postings for the last week (see below)?  I’ve asked for help and advice on a few things (Zendesk, Wikipedia, translations), but got no response. Thanks.

Meanwhile, some highlights of the last week …

LabourStart TV: I posted our first original content for a very long time, an interview with Teamster official Tim Beaty.  There have been over 300 views and 4 comments posted.


  • I added a line of text updating the Bahrain campaign to a number of languages, at the request of the Education International.
  • I asked PSI and UNISON about continuing with the Colombia campaign after two months – UNISON is keen to do so, but we’re waiting for an answer from PSI.  The campaign has gotten a healthy 7,845 messages sent.
  • We launched a campaign in support of workers’ rights activists in Mexico; in the first week online it got 5,550 supporters.
  • The Matteo Parlati campaign in Italy was closed; the first day in court was on Friday.  Matteo now no longer needs to report every day to a police station, and his actual trial has been pushed back to November.  A total of 8,357 messages were sent.
  • A lot more work done on the move of our campaigns to the new server in Iceland; see below for full details.  The move will take place tomorrow (Tuesday).
  • Spent a lot of time trying to stop people from being able to send off multiple messages for the same campaign using the same email address, with only limited success.  We will aim to have this working properly on the new server.

Wikipedia: I attempted the monthly update of our page there, but stopped.  See blog post below.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,LabourStart.tv,Wikipedia |

Wikipedia – help needed

Can any correspondents help out here?  I have been updating our page on the Wikipedia every month – but now, someone has posted a number of issues, partly relating to the fact that I’m the one doing the updating.  If any of you have a moment and are willing to try your hand at the Wikipedia, please go here and see what you can do: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LabourStart Thanks.

Written by admin in: Wikipedia |

Some quick updates …

Improvements to ActNOW campaigns: There’s now a new field for inputting the photo which will accompany each campaign.  This will be very useful for the front page redesign (every campaign needs a photo) and the new app (see below).  The field we use for entering details about our partners is now partially filled in to make it easier for people; I will be writing to all campaign translators about this.

App for tablets and smartphones: I’ve made some real progress on this.  There’s really only one or two more things to do before we launch, which I aim to do by the end of February.  If you’re interesting in seeing what we have already, email me and I’ll send you a link to a web app that approximates the final version.

Twitter: I’ve been aggressively promoting the various versions and there’s a steady flow of people signing up as followers. In the last 3 days, the English Twitter account has picked up 76 new followers, and the Canadian Twitter account even more.

Interface for correspondents: For some time now we’ve had English, French and Russian versions of this — today I requested our translators in several other languages to translate a short file which will make things easier for our nearly 1,000 volunteer correspondents, many of whom do not have English as their first language.

Conference 2012: Andrew and I have had regular Skype calls; we’ve set up a Basecamp account from which we manage everything; we have a venue (thanks to the NSWTF) in Sydney and we have the beginnings of an organizing committee.

Conference 2014: I’ve had discussions with a potential LabourStart staff person for Germany to even now begin the work of raising our profile there, which is a pre-condition for a successful conference in May 2014 in Berlin.  I’ve also made tentative plans to meet with the ITUC in Brussels next month to discuss this and other issues.  They are aware of our intention to hold our Global Solidarity Conference on the eve of their congress.

Fundraising: We normally do a pitch to our readers in May, and we will do this, but I’ve been approaching unions even now to begin the work as our expenses are skyrocketing and we need to raise more money than ever before.  Derek and Andrew have done terrific work in the past in Canada and Australia; I’ve gotten some great commitments from British unions this year.  Anyone reading this who can help – please email me.

Tech problems – newsfeeds and Unicode: We’ve had problems with the Finnish RSS news feed – some characters not rendering correctly – I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to get this to work. If the solution I’ve deployed solves the problems, I’ll sort this out for all other languages as well.

Broken link on our home page: Derek noticed that the ‘Join a union’ link had stopped working suddenly.  This turns out to be our only program written in Python.  I have no idea what has gone wrong, but have contacted our web host, 1&1 Internet, and they’ll look into it.

Wikipedia: I update our page there every month, both adding new links, numbers and campaigns, and also monitoring to make sure the page isn’t vandalized.  Many people visit this page and we need to treat it as an important gateway to the LabourStart project.

New campaigns on the horizon: In the last 24 hours we’ve had three requests – from the USA, Peru and Italy.  We’ll see if we can find a way to stagger these and not overload our lists.


Tuesday afternoon updates

It’s been a busy day …

  • All recent supporters of our campaigns have now been added to our mailing lists on MailChimp – we’re seeing signficant growth for the German list, which indicates that our campaigns are now being promoted there by at least one union.
  • The mass mailing regarding our Egypt campaign has gone out for translation and we’ve gotten translations back already in at least two languages.
  • I’ve done further work on our Wikipedia entry, including trying to create an entry for UnionBook but am encountering some resistance there.
  • I’ve written to comrades in Georgia about getting a Georgian language version of our campaigns up – particularly the current Georgian one.  Am awaiting their reply.
  • Mac Urata at the ITF has agreed to help us get a Japanese version of the campaigns up and running.
  • On UnionBook, I’ve managed to sort comments in Groups in reverse date order – something which people have asked for.
  • I’ve begun the process of creating a secure directory (URLs would begin with https://) on our site – this is needed if we use Facebook for some pages, which has been done for our French version.
  • It’s been suggested that we could get an article about LabourStart published in a left-wing Esperanto magazine; I’ve asked one of our correspondents who speaks the language to take care of this.
  • Using a service called Conduit Mobile I’ve been doing further work on a small, simple UnionBook app for mobile devices.
  • I did extensive work on our newswires today, including getting the French RSS feed to work properly, reviewing the ActNOW RSS feed in French and Norwegian (now fixed), the Health and Safety wire in French (seems OK), and tweaking our new French language newswire for North Africa.  In addition I completed work on migrating all the regional newswires over to our new database – finally.

LabourStart on Wikipedia

Wikipedia logo.If you search Google for ‘LabourStart’, the first two sites found point directly to our website, the third is our Twitter feed and the fourth is the Wikipedia entry about LabourStart. That entry gets a significant amount of traffic – 176 visitors in the last month, for example. Some people are clearly learning more about our website here. Which is why we need to keep it updated.

The article was first created back in November 2003 by me; it was updated by me a few years later, and Dave Smith has made sure we’re part of the Organized Labour Portal on Wikipedia. But we’ve not been good at keeping it up to date, or making it as informative as we can.

At Derek Blackadder’s suggestion, I have now begun to regularly update the page, and will be doing so at least once per month. The idea is not only to keep the numbers up to date, but to keep adding new references – in the hope of attracting attention to some of the things we do (like our campaigns, conference, competitions, and so on).

Anyone can edit the page, and I urge correspondents to sign up for a Wikipedia account — you don’t need to do so in order to edit, but it helps identify who has made changes. If you make changes, please note what you’ve done in the appropriate space.

If you write in another language, please do what you can to make sure people who do not read English can still learn about LabourStart on the Wikipedia. At the moment, it appears that our page is only in English. (To see an example of a multilingual page, go here and look at the left side of the screen.)

Written by admin in: Wikipedia |

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