The week in review – 10 – 18 June


The focus has been on Turkey, of course — our largest campaign ever and soon to be the first to break the 20,000 mark.  This week we launched a Turkey Twitter campaign in which hundreds of people tweeted the same message at Prime Minister Erdogan.  We live blogged developments, here on Inside LabourStart.  We ran a live feed on our Facebook page with reports from Ron Oswald of the IUF in Taksim Square.  A Greek language version of the campaign will go live today – our first-ever campaign in Greek.

The 3 Cosas campaign in the UK has been the focus of some attention as well — we’ve gotten a commitment from the student unions in London to email their members, thousands of students, many of whom are expected to support the campaign.

In Canada, we’re about to close one campaign and launch another one.

We raised the possibility of a Nike campaign with IndustriALL and are waiting to hear from them.

We followed up this week with the ITF regarding the Vancouver, Washington port dispute.  The campaign is now two months old and is just under 10,000 messages sent.

And as we do once a month, we wrote to all our campaign partners with updates and reminders.

Next global solidarity conference – Berlin, May 2014:

There’s been a lot of discussion by email about this, and next Monday, Eric, Edd and Gisela will meet in London to discuss.  We have draft 2 page conference document in English and German versions.  Matt and others have been scouring Berlin to find the best venue for our meeting.


As I reported earlier this week, we suspended the Facebook ad campaign.

We’ve begun building a list of press contacts in the hope of getting some coverage in mainstream (and alternative) media for LabourStart.  Within minutes of our first mailing yesterday (to about 70 addresses), the British left-wing magazine Red Pepper posted a very short version of what we sent them as a tweet to their nearly 10,000 followers.

LabourStart Books:

Sales remain slow, though have picked up slightly in mid-June.  We sold 11 copies of the Global Labour Movement book last week and 4 copies of the Online Campaigning book.

We have two more books in the pipeline both of which will come out in 2013.

Dormant languages:

As I reported, 11 of the approximately 30 languages on our website are not updated regularly. Edd and I selected the six most important (where we have mailing lists, or do campaigns, or both) in an effort to revitalize. We’ve recruited some new correspondents and will be checking to see if any of these pages have come alive. The next step is to deal with the other five languages.

Today in Labour History:

We’ve begun work on the next step of this project — a print calendar, to be available for purchase in Q4 of 2013.


The week in review – 7.5 – 14.5

Campaigns: The Bangladesh campaign is one of our very largest, with over 14,000 messages sent — we got a big boost from the British TUC which did an image that went viral and brought a lot of attention the campaign. We will probably close this soon as IndustriALL and UNI have made a lot of progress this week.

The Hong Kong campaign closed and we’ve asked about closing the Mexico campaign after three months — waiting to hear from IndustriALL about that one. We asked the RMT in the UK if we could close the “Justice for the 33” campaign and have been asked to continue to run with it for another month or so.

In addition to publicizing our own campaigns, we were asked to do mailings and promote Amnesty International’s new campaign in support of releasing jailed Bahraini teacher Mahdi, which we did. We also did a special promotion on Fiji for the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the ITUC.

On the technical side, we fixed some of the German text, got an Indonesian ActNOW newswire working, and have made more progress on the new campaigns database which will make our translators’ job considerably easier.

News home pages: Edd’s been working on some of the more complex language home pages which have not yet been moved over to the new format (Dutch, Polish); Eric will be completing work on the French version in the next few days. We fixed a lot of things on the country pages this week, including how campaigns appear (now showing the photo from the most recent campaign and horizontal lines to separate them); news stories that appear in the top 10 don’t repeat in the stories below; when a state/province/region appears in the headline (e.g., England), it now appears in a different colour (as it does in the list of stories); there’s now an ad for the new book on all the country pages in English; the “for more info” link now appears again on all stories where there’s something in that field.

Book 2: Sales are going well; we’ve sold 180 copies — 156 of them this week. We’ll begin work on a Kindle edition this week. Matt H. has volunteered to work on a German edition of this (and the previous book).

Berlin/Vancouver 2014: Edd’s been in touch with some German comrades and we’re making slow and steady progress. Derek is talking to comrades in Canada about a global solidarity conference there as well.

Mailing list: We had a problem with the latest version of our Sendy software — it was screwing up character encoding. This was now fixed.

CloudFlare: The adoption of CloudFlare, which we pay to ensure that our site is accessible everywhere at an improved speed, and which will keep us going even if we go offline for a while, has caused some teething pains. One of them was a delay in seeing the new photo of the day, which Derek has been posting. This has now been fixed.

Today in Labour History: I noticed that the word ‘more’ would appear even when there was no more; this has now been fixed. We have a lot more stories in the database now and a big thanks to Andy for translating so many of them into French.

Fund-raising: The ITF has pledged to donate something, and we’re expecting a donation from the RMT as well, which voted at its conference last year to support LabourStart. In addition, we’ve put in requests for grants for specific purposes to two UK-based charities — the Lipman-Miliband Trust and the Edge Fund.



The week in review – 30.4 – 6.5

May Day Party: Considering that this was the first time we’ve tried a real-world fundraiser, it has to be considered a success. The party was held on Saturday night at the Bread & Roses pub in Clapham, south London. David Cockroft, the outgoing general secretary of the ITF, spoke, as did Kirill Buketov of the IUF. (Cockroft’s speech was videoed and we’ll make it available when we have it.) In addition, we had speakers from the “3 Cosas” campaign organizing London cleaners and the RMT “Justice for the 33” campaign, and two entertainers — Dave Thorpe and The Ruby Kid. There were about 45 people there, and we raised £300 for LabourStart. Next year, let’s have LabourStart May Day fundraisers in a dozen cities around the world – start planning yours today.

Books 1, 2 and 3: The global labour movement – an introduction has now been published, we have 100 copies here in London, and today we’ll begin publicity. My personal goal is to sell more copies of this than book 1 (Campaigning online and winning) — we’ve distributed about 769 of those, of which 725 are actual sales. Andy has begun work on a French translation already. We already have plans for a third book — selected essays by former IUF general secretary Dan Gallin. One of those essays almost went into Book 2, but we felt it was more suited to a collection of Dan’s writings, which he’s agreed we can publish. His articles have appeared in book form in French and Russian, but not yet English. We’re putting in a request for financial support to do this to the Lipman-Miliband foundation.

Campaigns: We closed the KMU Philippines campaign after more than 3 months online. The Bangladesh campaign is already one of our largest with 10,649 messages sent as of this morning. We’re about to close down the last remaining UK-only campaign for the RMT. I’ve made steady progress on the transition to a MySQL database for campaigns – we can now show campaigns and add new ones, and we can migrate all campaigns from the old system. As I’ve mentioned before, this will not only lead to a more robust and secure system, but it will be MUCH easier for translators to do their work. It’s a big project and should take a couple more weeks to complete, including thorough testing.

LabourStart country pages: We’ve made a lot of improvements to the LabourStart Canada page and have much more work to do on others, such as the UK page.

Today in Labour History: Edd and others are working very hard to ensure that there’s something every day on the main global page and something every month for each of the key countries. This is an ongoing project and every LabourStart correspondent is invited to help out.


The week in review – 9-16 April

The biggest news:

I just set up CloudFlare as a way of ensuring that LabourStart stays online no matter what.  It should also theoretically really speed up the display of our site, anywhere in the world.  It should kick in sometime in the next 48 hours.  If LabourStart suddenly becomes unusable  that probably means I did something wrong with the setup. In that case, please email me making sure not to use a labourstart.org address — email me at labourstart@fastmail.fm, which will get through.  Make sure you note that email address now, as this blog will also become inaccessible if our site goes offline.

Other news:

Facebook: We have a new Hebrew language Facebook page, updated daily and picking up followers fairly quickly.  We’re up to 48 likes.  We also have pages in Turkish (99 likes), French (300 likes) and English (6,441 likes).  We only have 209 people on our Hebrew language mailing list, so this is quite good — 1 in 4 are now Facebook fans.  If we had the same result in English, we’d have something like 19,000 fans on Facebook.

New home page: The new home page is now working in 11 languages and should be working in all 29 by the end of this week.  Following a vigorous discussion about the logo, we’ll make a decision in the next few days.

New pages for countries and state/provinces: This is also being configured according to the new design, and hugely improved.  See for example the new UK home page at http://www.labourstart.org.uk.

Campaigns: The Hong Kong dock workers remains our latest, with over 7,300 messages sent so far, though we will likely be launching a new one today for the ITF.  We’ve added a prominent link on campaigns to Reddit which, according to participants in the recent e-Campaigning Forum, can be a very effective way to boost traffic to a site (at no cost).  Two of our oldest campaigns — Nissan USA and the Philippines — have been closed.  A new version of a Canada-only campaign has also been launched, with over 600 messages this week.

Mailing lists: We now have a mailing list in Thai with 49 subscribers, and our first campaign in that language.

Book: We’re nearly done with the writing of our introduction to the global labour movement — we hope to go to press this Friday and have copies ready for sale by 4th May, when we hold the LabourStart May Day party in London.

May Day party:  This important fund-raising event takes place on 4th May this year at the Bread & Roses pub in London.  I’m hoping to raise up to £1,000 pounds.  So far, over 200 people have either confirmed their attendance or said they may come (slightly more say they will definitely come).  The general secretary of the ITF is due to speak, as are others.  Two performers have volunteered to provide the entertainment for the evening — Dave Thorpe and The Ruby Kid.

Today in Labour History: Edd’s added many more items, as we need to ensure that we have at least one for each month for each of the major countries.  This appears on the bottom of our UK page, if you want to see what it looks like.  Comrades who can help should contact us intern@labourstart.org

Dormant languages: We’ve identified 11 languages where correspondents have ceased posting news — we’ll need to chase them up and find replacements, but if comrades have any suggestions they’d be most welcome.  The languages are:

  1. Czech (nothing since 2010)
  2. Danish (nothing since April 2012)
  3. Greek (nothing since 2011)
  4. Farsi (nothing since November 2012)
  5. Italian (nothing since 2011)
  6. Georgian (nothing since July 2012)
  7. Kreole (nothing since 2010)
  8. Portuguese (nothing since July 2012)
  9. Serbian (nothing since 2011)
  10. Suomi (nothing since April 2012)
  11. Swedish (nothing since July 2012)

Techy stuff: I had to review our server on 1&1 Internet as they are no longer supporting the MySQL 4 format starting from the end of this month.  Fortunately, all our databases are MySQL 5 so we should be fine.



Today in Labour History – first example of localization

If you look at LabourStart Canada today, look at the left column.  There’s a new feature – ‘This month in Canadian labour history’.  It shows everything in our database for January, from Canada.  I plan to adapt these feature for other countries and languages once we achieve critical mass — meaning enough stories so that there’s something to show.  I also intend to change the ‘this month’ to ‘today’ once we have stories for every day of the year (or nearly every day).

There are now 11 volunteers posting to this database, which now has 179 records.

Needed: volunteers to add labour history dates from the USA, Australia, the UK, etc — and other languages than English …

Written by admin in: Today in Labour History |

Fortnightly update – 1-15 January 2013

Public appearances in the UK: We’ll be represented at three upcoming UK-based events.  On 19.1, I’ll be speaking at the Southend Labour Party. On 24.1, Edd will speak at the Unions 21 tech seminar. And on 13-14 March, we’re organizing a panel at the E-Campaigning Forum in Oxford.

Campaigns: We’re about to launch two new ones today – on El Salvador and the Philippines.  These are our first new campaigns in nearly 6 weeks — it has been a very quiet season.  As reported below, we now have the campaigns newswire working correctly in 19 languages, in both JavaScript and RSS versions – please make sure to promote this in your country.

Book: Sales have reached 377.  Let’s all push hard to get that number up to 500 over the next few days.  We were briefly an Amazon.co.uk best-seller, hitting the top 1,000 books they were selling, and reaching number 2 in our category.  A Kindle edition is coming soon, and we’re starting to think about doing another book.  Meanwhile, I expect to complete my book for UCS by the end of January – the working title is  Making Unions Stronger – Using The Internet Better.

Labour Newswire: We’ve pushed our newswires aggressively to UK unions, and it’s bearing fruit.  We had 40 UK sites listed, that dropped down to 20 after Edd removed all the dead wood, and now we’re back up to 28. You can see the up-to-date list of all 302 sites using our newswire here.

Today in Labour History: We now have 11 people adding content to this; almost every day, there is something on our front page in English.   (And more things coming soon.)

Inactive correspondents: Edd has gone through the 500 or so correspondents who’ve not been active, writing individually to each one, and giving support (such as new passwords) where needed.  In a few weeks, we’ll be deleting those who are showing no interest in continuing.

Upcoming global solidarity conferences: I’ve finally heard (today) from a colleague in Germany about the possibility of a conference in Berlin in May 2014; I’ll be following up.  Derek has been in discussions with people in Vancouver about a conference there in late 2014.

Fund-raising: We’ve gotten generous donations from two unions in the USA (United Steelworkers and the Amalgamated Transportation Union) and hoping for more.  We’ve sent out a few copies of the campaigns book to donors who have given £1,000 or more in the last couple of years.



Fortnightly update – 18.12 – 31.12.12

bookcoverBook: We completed our campaigns book and published it, and publicized it today.

Campaigns: We closed the Guatemala campaign two weeks ago – still waiting for a report on how things turned out.  The Zimbabwe campaign was closed ten days ago.  The Histadrut has asked us about doing a campaign in support of striking Pelephone workers in Israel.

Newswires: We located the RSS version of the health & safety newswire for Australia which the ACTU had requested.

ActNOW DIY: Did some work on writing the code for this – moving slowly …

Site overhaul: Did a considerable amount of work on the new-look website for 2013.  Coming soon.

International Union Rights: Sales of subs to this were disappointing – we sold just 34 of them (as of 10 days ago).

Today in Labour History: This is now working fairly well, and displaying on our home page.  We have 4 or so people adding content and will soon go public in an attempt to get more correspondents.

Twitter: We are working to get our Spanish language Twitter feed working again and we’re exploring ways to get all our languages working.

Inactive correspondents: We’re building up a list of all those correspondents who are inactive and are beginning to write to each one individually.


Weekly update – 12.12 – 18.12.12

With Christmas nearly upon us, work is beginning to slow down – not taking on any new, major projects (and, I hope, no new campaigns) before the new year.

Successful campaigns book: This is now complete, with an introduction by the IUF’s Ron Oswald.  It runs more than 60 pages and we should be able to submit it to Amazon tomorrow (Wednesday) and should have books in hand by the end of the year.  The working title is Campaigning online – and winning: How LabourStart’s ActNOW campaigns are making unions stronger.

Labour newswires: We’ve now set up and tested labour newswires in JavaScript and RSS for the four nations of the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  (This was Edd’s first ‘techie’ job, editing and uploading the files.)  We’ll be promoting these to UK union websites, hoping to grow our base of UK sites using our newswires from 20 to 40.  In the process of doing this, we discovered we had no recent stories from Wales, so we’ve added some and are following up with our Welsh correspondents to make them active.

Today in Labour History: Did more work setting this up; a version now appears on the front page of the website, but this is a very rough draft.   (The PHP version will look much nicer.) We have our first additional volunteer to help (from New Zealand), so we’re now a team of 3, but I hope we’ll begin recruiting others soon.

Book of the month: This month we promoted a subscription to International Union Rights; we earn £8 per sub sold, and as of yesterday morning we’d sold 33, so we’ve made £264,  This is more than we made in the previous four months selling books with UCS.  It is less than I’d hoped (I was hoping for at least 50 sales, maybe 100), but this is still much better than we normally do in a month.

Internationalization of campaigns: Edd reviewed how our campaigns appear in different languages and we found a number of places where English was still appearing.  I wrote to all our translators and we’ve made quite a few fixes in the Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indonesia, Vietnamese, and Chinese versions of campaigns.

New correspondents: We’ve added several new ones, including two more from Taiwan, our first active correspondent in the Bulgarian language for some time, and more.

Facebook: I wrote to key correspondents about doing additional versions beyond our English, French and Turkish pages.  Some interest has been shown in creating Indonesian and Chinese pages.

New site design: I spent several hours crafting a new front page for English (which could be the template for other languages).  It’s three columns wide, contains many more images, has a larger font, and features a much simpler navigation.  (That’s a screen shot of where we stand now with this, above.)  I hope to have something to show you all in 2013, but the adventurous among you can ask me for the URL so you can see the work-in-progress for yourself.

Closed campaigns: We’ll be closing the Guatemala campaign after three months today.


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 Powells.com, 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.


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 change.org.  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.

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