Weekly Monthly roundup – 18.11.12 – 12.12.12

Campaigns: We launched three campaigns during this 25-day period – “Cameroon: Musicians union march attacked by police“, “Nissan USA’s union busting is a global shame“, and “Netherlands: Union organizers, MP arrested; denied access to care-home workers“. We closed down several – including the Pakistan fire campaign (one of our very largest) and the Turkey DHL campaign. We’ve also started work on the ActNOW DIY project, but this is turning out to be quite complex and will take some time.

Campaign successes book: We’re nearly ready with this — a short book which we’ll distribute at cost which goes over our many victories in the last ten years.  The working title is Campaigning online – and winning: How LabourStart’s ActNOW campaigns are making unions stronger.

Labour Book of the Month: We’ve been exploring some interesting options including working with UK booksellers (three have come forward), reviving our account with, selling magazine subscriptions (we’ve been talking with Hazards and International Union Rights), selling our TUC book on the Iraqi labour movement (we have 100 in stock) and selling our campaign successes book (see above).  At present, we earn very, very little from our bookselling partnership with UCS.

Today in Labour History: This is nearly complete – we can now have multiple users and we’ve already got quite a few dates in the database, which can now be sorted by country and language, just like LabourStart’s news database.

Fundraising: We’ve now sent out our brochure and individual letters to the heads of every union in Australia.

Labour Newswires: Edd has gone through the whole directory deleting all the dead links and we’re down to 286 sites that use the newswire — 40% of where we were before, when we had over 700. It’s time to rebuild the list by getting all the newswires working, adding new ones, and promoting them aggressively.

Conferences: Work has begun — initially just some exploratory emails — on a Berlin conference in May 2014. Oh yes, and we held a Global Solidarity Conference in Sydney.


More stuff about our conference – this time, a father-and-son affair

Chris White wrote this and his son Alex wrote this.

Written by admin in: 2012 conference |

Union television report on our conference in Sydney

Forward here to about 02:40 …

Written by admin in: 2012 conference |

Sydney – 16 hours on, first thoughts about our conference

I write these words barely 16 hours after the end of the third annual LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference, held in Sydney, Australia this week.

This won’t be a full or formal report; other conference participants are invited to make their own reports and I’ll try to link to them below as I learn about them.

These are more a series of random observations than a proper report told in chronological order, but that’s all I’m capable of at the moment.

This turned out to be relatively difficult conference to organise. We had originally planned to do it in Sydney in 2011, but that fell through and we hastily convened the one in Istanbul instead. This time, we pulled together a fairly large organising committee, got a great venue for free (from the New South Wales Teachers Federation), and thought we had things under control.

But about two months ago, it became clear that the conference was in trouble so I intervened. I convinced members of the committee to move from a conference that would cost more than $100 per head to attend to a free one, and from a registration procedure that required the printing off of a form and its posting by mail to a simple online one. I also secured the involvement on a voluntary basis of Essential Media Communications, headed up by Peter Lewis, and this proved to be decisive. The conference agenda was rewritten from scratch, and the number of registered participants soared from 5 to well over 200.

The conference opened on Sunday evening with a reception at a local bar, hosted by, and this was an opportunity to meet many of the international participants. In the end we had people from more than 15 countries — the UK, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, the USA, Fiji, the Philippines, Timor Leste, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New Zealand — as well as Australia (including members of the Bahraini and Vietnamese communities).

The conference was formally opened by the traditional ‘welcome to country,’ delivered by a representative the indigenous population. We were reminded that the conference was held on aboriginal land and paid our respects with a moment of silence.

The two initial speakers were myself and Dave Oliver, the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Dave gave a terrific speech, the first part of which spoke very highly of the work LabourStart does and the esteem in which it is held in Australia.

The rest of the conference was a series of plenaries and workshops focussing on six different selected campaigns. These included Nissan USA (which became the subject of a LabourStart campaign launched during the conference itself), Qatar (an ITUC campaign focussing on migrant workers), Bahrain (we heard an impassioned appeal for help from Bahrainis living in Australia), China, Fiji, and Mexico (miners). The conference was privileged to hear addresses by such prominent activists as Daniel Urai, of the Fiji Trades Union Congress and Benjamin Velasco from the Philippines, who spoke about the campaign at Philippines Air Lines against outsourcing.

Monday evening the entire conference packed up and moved across town to a dinner and reception hosted by the Australian Workers Union at Trades Hall, including a display of banners and a tour of EMC’s new television studio there.

The final session on Tuesday, following detailed reports from each of the workshops, focussed on ways LabourStart can be more helpful to Australian unions

The second day saw a much smaller turnout, as expected, but there were a credible number of people in the hall and an exhausted crowd did manage to rise up from their seats to sing a rousing version of the Internationale.

Wednesday morning there was a small meeting of LabourStart correspondents including participants from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Norway and the UK. We discussed the conference that just took place, a possible conference in Berlin in May 2014, the proposed ActNOW DIY system, LabourStart’s finances and fundraising, and more.

Special thanks are due not only to the unions and individuals name above, and to all those who attended, by to members of the organizing committee including Alison, Crystal, Tony, Caroline, Michael and of course Andrew.

I encourage others who attended the conference to post their own reports and I look forward to reading these.


Written by admin in: 2012 conference |

Weekly roundup – 12-18.11.12

This is almost certainly going to be the last weekly summary before December — on Thursday I’m off to Sydney for the third annual LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference and will not be back before 2 December.  Some highlights from the last week:

Conference – going well, lots of last minute work dealing with people coming, cancelling, the programme, lunches, etc.  The Facebook Event page had to be cleaned up a bit as we were getting spammed.  Today – with only a week to go – we have 193 people registered to attend, of those 145 from Australia and 5 from New Zealand.

Campaigns – we got permission to close down the Pakistan campaign.  On Friday we got our first campaign request ever from the International Federation of Musicians — we’ll launch this later today.  The Guatemala campaign is two months old; I asked the sponsor what they wanted to do.  Meanwhile, the Bahrain campaign is well over 10,000 names making it one of the largest we’ve ever done.

Book of the month – we did our second one last Monday, and by Wednesday I was growing concerned that 98% of those who were clicking through to learn more about the book were not ordering it.  I then did a survey on Survey Monkey to find out why.  We got a very large number of responses (482 and counting) and I’ll close the survey tomorrow and will publish a summary here.  We’ve learned a lot, I think, from this experience.

Publicity – on Monday I was interviewed by a journalist from a Swiss-German left-wing magazine called Woz.  They did a similar interview more than a decade ago – this was the follow-up.  He strongly suggested that we work closely with LaborNet Germany – I followed up by sending a message to all three leading figures, but have not yet gotten a response.

Regional RSS feeds – I was able to fix the Caribbean region, meaning that now I should be able to get all of them working again.  But this may not happen before December, unfortunately.

Course – on Wednesday, I did a 45 minute session for the European Trade Union Institute in Brussels — they had a dozen or so trade union officials from across the continent and using Skype video, I introduced them to online campaigning.

Fundraising – we’ve now mailed our brochure and a cover letter to every president of every union in the USA.


Week in Review: 5-12 November 2012

Conference: 183 people are registered so far – 133 from Australia, 50 from overseas. This is an increase of 43 in the last week. The organizing committee continues weekly meetings and preparations; a lot of work is being done to promote the event.

App for smartphones and tablets: I’ve been working very hard on the IUF app (version 2) and a LabourStart app is not far behind, now that I’ve gotten the hang of this.

Fundraising: We’ve written letters to accompany our brochures to over 100 local and regional unions in the UK and over 50 union presidents in the USA.

Campaigns: We launched a new one (Mexico) on Tuesday 6.11 and closed down another (Swaziland) on Friday, 9.11. We gave our Bahrain campaign another push after we learned that one of the two unionists (Jalila) was sent off to prison. As a result, that campaign picked up over 2,000 more supporters and now has just under 10,000 messages sent, making it one of our very largest.

South Africa: One month after my push to existing South African correspondents and an effort to recruit new ones, I can report some good news. Of the last 20 South African labour news stories (posted in the last 2 days), 18 were posted by COSATU and only two by Derek.


Weekly round-up: 30.10-5.11

Conference: Programme and flyer are now ready and have been widely publicized.  The number of registrants is now around 140, 100 of them from Australia.  We need to double that.  Conference opens in less than 3 weeks …

Campaigns: We’re about to launch a new campaign re Mexico; details later today.  I tightened up security on the page showing who supports our campaigns – you now need a password to view it.  I also did the fortnightly mailing to all our campaign partners.  We’re also working on some interesting changes that could allow unions to create their own campaigns on LabourStart, as they can do now on sites like  The Bahrain campaign is at 7,300 supporters, making it larger than the one we did earlier in the year, and our second-largest current campaign.

Newswires: I tried to fix the Caribbean RSS newswire and discovered that all our regional RSS newswires aren’t working.  Still trying to fix this, hoping to get it all sorted this week.  I discovered that the ActNOW RSS feed has not been updated since we moved servers and aim to fix that this week as well.  Our Labour Newswire Global Network – the directory of sites that use the newswire – is being cleaned up for the first time in years.

Education & Training: I did preparations for a course I’m helping to deliver for the European Trade Union Institute later this month — wrote up some notes and located articles to share with participants on the subject of online campaigning.

App: I’ve made a breakthrough of sorts, and have done a lot of work on apps for LabourStart and the IUF in the last week.  Expect to see something very soon.

Today in labour history: This is a new feature for our website — and possibly for a print calendar next year.  Our intern, Edd, is working on it.

Fundraising: We’ve prepared a letter and brochure to be sent to regional offices of most of the major British unions.

Labour Book of the Month: We’ve selected the November featured book, and will publicize it next week.  We’ve made contact with some British bookshops about doing a UK version of this as well.


Weekly round-up: 22-30 October

Conference: Registrations now up to 111; a gain of 50 in the last 7 days.  The Australian Council of Trade Unions has been publicizing.  An agenda is now agreed and nearly ready for circulation.  International guests are expected to attend from the UK, Turkey, Russia, Norway, the USA, the Philippines, Fiji, Taiwan, China, New Zealand and Timor l’Este, and maybe more — at least a dozen countries represented.  During the week, I had Skype calls with both Andrew Casey and Peter Lewis in Sydney to discuss conference progress.  Members of the organizing committee have been receiving a daily email from me updating them as we rapidly approach the conference opening.  The conference has an event page on Facebook.

Intern: Interviews took place last Monday, 22 October; each of the four shortlisted interns was then asked to complete a written test (to draft a plan for a new LabourStart campaign).  The result of all this is that our new intern, Edd Mustill, has begun work 3 days a week in the office.  Say hello to Edd –

Campaigns: We launched a new campaign yesterday demanding the release of two teacher trade union leaders in Bahrain; it took off very quickly and within less than 20 hours had generated 4,544 messages.  (The campaign is already larger than our China NGOs campaign, which was launched 18 days ago..)  We also did a promotion of our Zimbabwe campaign, which had stalled at under 4,700.  It’s picked up another 800 supporters thanks to our additional effort.

Books: I had a short meeting in London with David Prosten, owner of Union Communication Services.  David’s not only our partner bookseller for the Labour Book of the Month, but he’ll also be publishing my next book on unions and the internet, due out next year.

Written by admin in: 2012 conference,Campaigns,Publications |

Weekly roundup – 15-22 October 2012

Global Solidarity Conference: I had five individual calls with Australians last week, one each day.  I spoke with 4 members of the organizing committee plus Peter Lewis from Essential Media. We took a decision to make this a free conference and to drastically streamline the registration procedure. As a result, we’ve jumped from 5 Australians attending to 33, and a total of just under 50 registrants. We expect many more in the days to come as we finalize the conference agenda and begin to highlight who the guest speakers from overseas will be. I’ve begun weekly mailings the complete Australia / New Zealand list (just under 6,000 addresses) and to all those who’ve registered. In addition, I’ve been doing daily mailings to the 25 or so people on the organizing committee list.  We have less than 35 days to go …

Interns: Today is interview day; I will be interviewing all 4 of the shortlisted candidates as well as giving them a written assignment.

Office: Now largely unpacked, office is looking like a place one can actually work in.

Campaigns: I closed down the RMT campaign. I sent off the biweekly message to all our partners updating them on the status of all campaigns and asking for their help. I also did the monthly reminder to all translators about what they may have missed. I cleared the backlog of translated campaigns and mass mailings. There was a problem with campaign ID numbers, which someone managed to reset to 0, but I fixed this. I also made a small techie change – we had a problem if someone chose to opt out from the mailing list signup in that they wouldn’t be included in the count; this is now fixed. We have been asked to help UNI promote a campaign in support of ING workers in Korea and will do so this week.

UnionBook: The link to UnionJobs, which showed the most recent jobs, has broken so I’ve changed it and moved it to a more prominent location.

Publicity: I and two volunteers distributed 400 LabourStart brochures at the 20 October TUC march and rally in London. This is the first time we have intervened in this way and it went well.

Hebrew edition: My message – in Hebrew – to our list got us one new correspondent. I’ve continued to push our Israeli correspondents to be more involved and to try to feature more news from Palestine and other countries.


Weekly Monthly roundup – 24.9 – 15.10

To be fair, I was away for more than a week …

Intern: We had 12 applicants. Derek Blackadder (Canada) and John Wood (UK) helped me prepare a shortlist of 4, who will be interviewed on Monday, 22 October. Roger Darlington has volunteered to assist with the interviews.

Conference: We’re working hard to build this — it’s only 6 weeks away. We did a mailing on 24.9 to our lists in Australia and New Zealand. I’ve provided the organizers with a list of who to invite from the region, and have been in touch with several others from outside the region whose flights we are subsidizing.

New campaigns: We launched a campaign in support of workers in Guatemala; we ran a short and sharp campaign in support of jailed Turkish trade unionists; we launched a campaign in support of labour NGOs in China facing repression.

Closed campaigns: I closed down five campaigns – China (Li Wang Yang), UK (RMT Olympics), Turkey (Togo), Morocco and Kazakhstan.

Labour book of the month: I’ve revived this, and in the first 4 days, we sold over $600 worth of books.

Facebook: I tested the promotion of one of the posts on our page. This was the post – “Over 300 dead textile workers in Pakistan – demand justice! Support the online campaign!” It was seen by 63,151 people, 713 of them liked it, 23 commented on it, and 150 shared it. A typical post on Facebook is seen by a tiny fraction of that — usually around 5,000 people. The cost was $100.

Sponsorship of LabourStart UK: UIA, which provides insurance cover for union members here, now has a banner on our UK website, for which they are paying us.

Ukrainian: We have a new newswire in Ukrainian, following a request. I’ve also provided them with a list of country names for translation.

Urdu: We had an offer to translate our Pakistan campaign, but there’s been no translation yet.

Swedish & Danish: We’ve done a mailing to our small lists in these two languages to try to recruit new correspondents and translators.

South Africa: I’ve written both to all our existing correspondents and to hundreds of our readers there in an effort to get more active correspondents.

Brochure distribution: I’ve recruited three volunteers to help me distribute LabourStart brochures at Saturday’s giant demonstration and march organized by the Trades Union Congress in London.

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