Dec
28
2020
0

A busy end to 2020 at LabourStart

At the end of each year, we write to all our volunteer translators. Our message this year included this:

We’ve run 24 campaigns this year.

Some of these campaigns resulted in victories for the workers.

We’ve helped get trade unionists released from jail, companies to sit down and negotiate with workers’ representatives, and workers reinstated after being wrongfully sacked.

Thanks to your efforts, these campaigns often appear in many languages — and as a result are much larger and more effective than campaigns that appear only in English or a handful of major languages.

We are strong believers in linguistic diversity and equality, and we believe that workers everywhere should be encouraged to participate in global solidarity campaigns, regardless of what language they speak.

Your work is turning that commitment of ours into a reality.

We also write to all our volunteer correspondents. In this year’s message, we wrote:

According to our statistics, 111 of you posted 55,618 news stories to our site this year. That’s average of 155 news stories every day of the year.

A new labour news story every 9 minutes.

When I look at the mainstream media news sites, I barely see a hint of all this news. Working people and our unions rarely make headlines.

Even some union websites feature hardly any updated news. Some major union websites go weeks without a single update.

But not LabourStart.

If you don’t glance at our site for a week, you’ve missed 1,000 news stories.

This is entirely due to your efforts — and to your understanding of our movement and the challenges we face, in your country and all over the world.

In the last two weeks, despite the holiday season, we’ve been busy as usual.

New campaign: We launched a new campaign in support of Ukrainian workers who have gone without pay for the last three years. The campaign is backed by the Ukrainian union PROFBUD and BWI. Today it already has nearly 4,000 supporters, and appears in 9 languages with more coming.

Our home page: This is now working in Russian and Ukrainian, showing our current campaigns. The ‘more campaigns’ link now works for all languages, which are showing only the most recent active campaigns. All links on the home page that pointed to insecure (http) links now point to secure (https) versions of the same page. We’ve been going through our home pages in all languages trying to make certain that all signup links to our mailing list now point to Mailchimp and not Sendy.

Reviving dormant languages: We wrote to volunteer translators for Finnish and Polish, and are following up also with Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese as well. All of these languages have had volunteer translators in the past, and if we can revive them all, our campaigns will reach much larger audiences.

Outreach: We wrote to a large number if Indian and Pakistani mine workers’ unions, and also reached out to the person who controls the ‘India labour news’ page on Facebook, in the hope of growing LabourStart’s presence in the region.

Bookshop: We’ve added many more titles to our US and UK bookshops on bookshop.org, and are planning to hold live author events on Zoom next month. In December, the US bookshop had 241 views and the UK one had 384 views and two sales.

Correspondents’ webinar: Our first-ever online meeting with correspondents was a success, with 35 participants.

LinkedIn: We now have a page in addition to our long-standing group. It has 33 followers. The group has grown to 2,250.

Resistance: This is the working title of the next collection of essays by Dan Gallin which we will be publishing in the next few weeks. Work on this has now resumed.

Dec
14
2020
0

Victories in Belarus, Colombia; new campaigns in Brazil, Kyrgyzstan; webinars; and we have a bookshop!

Apologies once again as this update has been delayed by a couple of weeks. It’s been a very busy month and here are some highlights:

Belarus: We shared the good news of the release of the jailed trade unionists (pictured) widely across social media and closed our campaign.

Brazil: We launched a campaign demanding an end the anti-union attacks in the city of São Paulo. After one month online, the campaign has 6,198 supporters.

Cambodia: We closed our current campaign after three months. We don’t know the result yet as we have not yet heard back from the sponsoring unions – ITUC and EI.

Canada: We invited our list to view the CLIFF videos — one of which received a LabourStart prize.

Colombia: We won a big victory in the ‘death shifts’ campaign and publicised this widely.(Pictured – right.)

India: We are in discussions with a colleague who had been an active LabourStart correspondent about ramping up our activities by working together on an Indian labour news page on Facebook which he founded, and that already has tens of thousands of supporters.

Iran: We raised the question of a campaign in support of a workers’ rights activists who received 74 lashes — but have not yet heard back from our global union partner.

Kyrgyzstan: We launched a major new campaign, and now have nearly 6,000 supporters. The campaign has benefitted from repeated posts across social media, and the GUF partners all posting news stories on their home pages about this.

Philippines: We gave a lot of publicity to the global unions’ “Workers’ Quest for Justice – an international webinar on human rights and the labour movement” which took place on 23 November.

UK: I gave a talk (via Zoom) to a London branch of Unite the Union. The subject was LabourStart; the branch has made a donation to us.


Books: We have launched — just in time for Christmas — online bookshops in cooperation with bookshop.org in the USA and UK.

Correspondents: We cleared the backlog of new correspondent applications. At the moment, we have 1,007 correspondents, the majority of whom are inactive. Of those, 64 joined us in 2020. (See ‘webinars’ below.)

Internationalisation: We’re checking all our home pages in various languages to try to standardise features and have completed this for the Dutch page.

Interns: In addition to our two current interns in the USA, Nate and Hargun, we have agreed with the Global Labour University (based in Germany) to take on one or two more for a 6-week period starting in mid-February. We have already interviewed the first one, a young Israeli trade unionist.

Labour Newswire: Our language-based newswires have been broken for some time, but we finally managed to find the problem and fixed the Russian and Spanish ones. We can now begin to publicise these again. We purged the Labour Newswire Global Network page of the many websites which no longer use our newswires (or which have gone defunct).

Site security: Due to changes made by our Internet host (IONOS), we were compelled to close our CloudFlare account and instead have bought into IONOS’ system, SiteLock. We needed to work with IONOS tech support to get this all to work properly. We are working to ensure that all pages on our site are now SSL-protected and no longer trigger warning messages in browsers.

Social media: In addition to our LinkedIn group, we now have a LinkedIn page which we are starting to recruit to.

Webinars: We are today holding our first-ever Zoom webinar, for LabourStart correspondents. Over 50 people have registered to attend. We plan to hold many more webinars to support our campaigns, etc. We are hoping to hold another public webinar in support of FLOC in the US, with the support of the IUF, but are waiting.

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.

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.

Apr
13
2020
0

D-18: Virtual May Day preparations continue

The last week has been busy with preparations for our upcoming Virtual May Day event, which now has the support of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and eight global union federations.

We held a Zoom call last week with them and will hold another one tomorrow as we move ahead on practical steps to collect all the video content we need for what may be a 12 hour broadcast.

Our main broadcasting platform will be Vimeo, and we’ve purchased a subscription to its live streaming service, which allows an unlimited number of people to view our video at the same time. We’re working in close partnership with a colleague at PSI who has already set up a page where people can submit videos (or URL links to videos which are on the web) and has been exploring all the many options Vimeo offers to make our broadcast look as professional as possible. We will need to be circulating that link from today to the widest possible network. (We are waiting for confirmation that it all works.)

The global unions have discussed among themselves the issues which concern them the most and we hope that most of the videos will be connected to those issues.

We’ve contacted the people responsible for our three live campaigns on LabourStart (Albania, Poland, Philippines) in the hope that we can get videos from them. We should use Virtual May Day to build support for all those campaigns.

In other news, we did the first mailing ever to our most active correspondents, and will do this on a regular (probably quarterly) basis.

We also received a request for a new campaign and are currently reviewing options.

Finally, we still have a backlog of people who requested to be LabourStart correspondents. We hope to have that completely cleared up this week.

Apr
06
2020
0

LabourStart in lockdown – but the work continues

A lot of our focus in the last week has been organising a Virtual May Day in partnership with global unions. We’ve been getting those unions on board, discussing content for the day and focussing on getting a platform up and running.

Our COVID-19 page continues to be our main news and we continue to promote it regularly across social media. We’ve had over 1,700 news stories about this in English alone, and in many more languages.

We now have a way to post messages to our most active correspondents and will be sending out a message today — in part to thank them for their help during this difficult time.

We had been working with an intern from the Global Labour University for the last several weeks. She has now completed her project with us though we hope she will continue as an active correspondent.

On our campaign page, we now have (in English only, at first) a prominent link to our ‘What is LabourStart page?’ — particularly useful for people supporting one of our campaigns for the first time. We’ll be rolling out this feature in other languages soon.

We are continuing with discussions on a possible Global Solidarity Conference in 2021. We have a national trade union centre interested in hosting this. More details to come soon.

There remains a backlog of correspondence to be answered, but we’re hoping to begin to bring that down, so if you’ve written to us and are waiting for a reply, thanks for your patience.

Mar
23
2020
0

COVID-19: Week 2

While most of the work in the last week has naturally focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s start with some good news:

Iran: Jailed teachers trade union leader Esmail Abdi, who has been the subject of more than one LabourStart campaign over the years, has been released as part of the general amnesty now taking place in Iran.

Correspondents: We continued to add many new ones, including from Sweden, Portugal and Canada, though a backlog remains.

And now, back to COVID-19:

Our special website now works ALL our languages. Country names appear, where available, in the correct language. Additional links have been added to the left column in a number of languages, with more on the way. Stories which have been tagged as top priority (global or country) have been highlighted in yellow. Mailings were sent in many languages to promote the page. In the last week, traffic to this page exceeded traffic to our home page, and is growing rapidly.

As of this morning, there were well over 1,000 stories about the pandemic on LabourStart’s special news page. These included 613 news stories about COVID-19 on LabourStart in English, 231 in French, 229 in Spanish, 102 in Portuguese, 88 in Norwegian, 48 in Dutch, 38 in Italian, 16 in Icelandic, 16 in Russian, 10 in Turkish, 9 in German, 6 in Polish, 5 in Danish, 4 in Finnish, 4 in Swedish, 2 in Czech, 1 in Bulgarian, 1 in Greek, and 1 in Slovak. More languages are being added now.

To support national unions in their online campaigns, we created new UK and US segments of our mailing list and did mailings to promote online campaigns related to the coronavirus for UNITE HERE in the US and for the TUC in the UK. We expect to do mailings in Canada as well to support union efforts there.

Our COVID-19 page has been noted and shared by, among others, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Labor Notes in the US.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Correspondents |
Mar
16
2020
2

COVID-19

COVID-19: We went live with our new news page, which now works in a number of languages and is filled with content updated throughout the day. Extensive publicity was done on social media and graphic links were added to a number of our home pages. A mailing was sent to all correspondents to explain how to tag stories. We received quite a few positive messages back from trade unionists in different countries and even a senior figure in the ILO retweeted our announcement about this initiative. Mailings have gone out to promote the page in a number of languages.

New correspondents: In response to two recent appeals, we’ve had a large number of new correspondent applications — more than ever before. I’m slowly processing these and in the last few days have added new correspondents from Mauritius and the USA. Many more will be added in the next few days.

Mailing lists: We added 174 new supporters to our lists based on recent campaigns. We also did the regular monthly promotion across social media.

Poland: We are likely to close our Poland campaign very soon — UNI reports some real progress on this, in part thanks to our effort. The campaign has also led to significant growth for our Polish mailing list.

Turkey: We have been asked to support striking leather workers; it turns out that we already did a campaign on this, so we have turned to one of the global union federations who are looking into this for us.

UK: Unfortunately due to the coronavirus, we will not be participating in the annual conference of the teachers union NASUWT.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Correspondents,Mailing list |
Mar
09
2020
0

International Women’s Day – and 20 new correspondents

International Women’s Day: We’ve had a glut of applications to be new correspondents, many of the applicants coming from Africa. This was the result of our International Women’s Day mass mailing. In addition to writing to our subscribers about our Women Workers page, we urged people to sign up to be correspondents. The Women Workers page picked up 1,754 new views as a direct result of this publicity. We also publicised the page across social media. And three days before the 8 March holiday, we wrote to all correspondents urging them to post news tagged for that page.

Kazakhstan: We did a major followup mailing for our campaign to free jailed union leader Erlan Baltaby, and have boosted support from 5,200 to 7,626. This is now our second-largest active campaign. The campaign also appears in additional languages now, including Swedish and Dutch.

Philippines: In addition to the campaign we’re continuing to run, we gave extensive publicity to a new video created by ACT, the teachers’ union. Our campaign, which we gave another boost to with mass mailings in many languages, has reached 8,948 supporters, and is our largest current campaign.

USA: We had a phone call and several email exchanges with a US union that is considering using LabourStart as a platform for campaigns. If we succeed with this, and they seemed pretty convinced, this will be a big step forward in raising awareness of LabourStart’s usefulness to unions in the US.

Leap year: We had a bug in our code that meant that there was a problem displaying news stories from 29.2 on 1.3; this was quickly fixed.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Correspondents |
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.

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