Aug
18
2019
0

August is never a quiet month for LabourStart

August may be quiet month for many of us in the northern hemisphere, but it’s also a chance for LabourStart to make some big changes to how we work and how our site looks.

Probably the best news of the month was the decision by the government of Kazkakhstan to release jailed trade union leader Erlan Baltaby. Our campaign played a major role in putting pressure on the government to do that. The campaign had 7,070 supporters and appeared in 18 languages. We followed up on this victory with a mailing to all our lists encouraging our supporters to sign up to the other ongoing campaigns.

Meanwhile, the campaign we launched on 25 July in support of municipal workers in Alia?a, Turkey, now has over 6,600 supporters and appears in 17 languages. One of those languages is Azeri, the first time we’ve campaigned in that language. Our Turkish comrades have prepared banners and signs with LabourStart’s logo which they have used in their protests.

We launched a long-awaited new home page design for LabourStart on 1 August, first in English, and as of today, 12 of our languages now use this. They are migrated over one by one, in order to take into account the different features which appear on each language’s home page (e.g., links to unions, the mailing list signup, and more). We will followup with redesigns of the country and state pages as well to conform to the new design.

One of our ongoing problems — for several years now — has been a lack of consistent translations of our campaigns into German. Not only is our German language mailing list one of our largest, but it is also one of our most active — we get a very high response rate from mailings to this list, when we do them. Early in August we did a mailing to everyone on that list discussing this problem and as a result, almost 70 volunteers came forward to translate our campaigns. All of our current campaigns now appear in German and we have translated nearly all the mailings as well.

We’ve begun letting our readers know about some of the tech we use at LabourStart, and began in July with the “Activists’ Toolbox” in one of our mailings, promoting the use of Fastmail, particularly for those who use web-based tools like Gmail which do not respect the privacy of users. Of the 11,768 people who opened the message, just 288 clicked on the link to learn more about Fastmail. If you any ideas about other software or services we might want to promote, let us know.

Those mailings are all done now using Sendy instead of MailChimp, with a considerable cost savings for LabourStart. We’ve been learning as we go along and did our first successful segmentation, allowing us to mail to Canadians, and also to people who didn’t open our previous message. We have, however, had some problems with adding new subscribers in bulk, and have raised this with the company which is hosting the lists for us.

We also resumed using Cloudflare ten days ago, which protects LabourStart against distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks — and much more. One of things it does is that all our pages are now secure, with the URLs beginning https. This means browsers will no longer warn visitors that our site is insecure. (We had resolved this years ago with the campaigns website, but not the news one.) There are still some teething pains: Sendy sends its messages through Amazon Web Services which, among other things, verifies us as the sender and this broke when we moved over to CloudFlare. We are in the process of resolving this now (it’s all about something called DKIM — look it up).

And while on the subject of tech, we managed to fix a few scripts including the one that shows our active campaigns, and the translations dashboard, to work correctly in Unicode. This means no more gibberish onscreen when using non-Latin alphabets.

Oct
01
2014
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The month in review: September 2014

Things picked up in September even though August was hardly a quiet month for us.

Office: LabourStart is now firmly planted in Muswell Hill as I learn to once again work from home (with some days working in the British Library).

Finances: Our finances have improved a bit this month. We have received a substantial contribution from Fafo in Norway, from the FDHT in Geneva and also many individual donations raised on behalf of Kevin Curran’s marathon run for LabourStart in October ($1,894 so far from 67 contributors). The promotion of Fastmail as a Gmail alternative on 19 September has generated very little income for us. Unison’s National Executive is due to consider a proposal to make a donation to us this month.

Campaigns: We launched five new campaigns in September:

  • Canada: Nova Scotia labor law
  • Turkey: Union busting at Deva Holdings
  • Colombia: Ruben Montoya
  • USA: IKEA – play fair with workers
  • Colombia: Luis Cardenas / Prosegur

We have been able to announce a victory at Autogrill (Germany) and will soon be able to announce another from the Philippines at NXP. We closed the Swaziland campaign after hearing that the Prime Minister has decided not to strangle trade union leaders. I also closed campaigns in Turkey and Korea after three months; the unions have not gotten back to us with updates.

In addition to promoting our own campaigns, we have helped the following organizations with promotions of their campaigns which we do not host: Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Australian Council of Trade Unions, IUF, IndustriALL (Thunderclap) and BWI. Most other campaigning organizations will generally not do dedicated mailings to promote other organizations’ campaigns, but we do this regularly.

All our campaigns are now also in Swedish, and this is what now shows on the Swedish home page.

Books: Book sales are just under 5,700, which is very good, and some Amazon payments have started to come in. I continue to work on our next book, which consists of speeches given at the Berlin conference. Derek has been working on a Canadian edition of our Global Labour Movement book. And we’ve reached agreement with Joe Atkins to publish his collection of essays from activists around the world on migrant labour in late 2015.

LabourStart Offline:

  • I spent a couple of days at the DGB training centre in Hattingen, Germany doing a course on online campaigning with the European Trade Union Institute.
  • Derek has done some courses with Unifor in Canada.
  • In November, Espen and I will be in Stockholm meeting with Swedish trade unionists to discuss cooperation (which has already begun).
  • In early November, I’ll be in Vienna attending an OSCE conference, which I will cover for Equal Times, and have already written to LabourStart subscribers there suggesting a meeting.
  • The FES Media project in Africa has shown interest in cooperating with us and I had a 30 minute phone call with their staffer in Windhoek, Namibia about this.
  • Pete Moss, one of our Australian correspondents, visited Indonesia and wrote up a report – see below.

Retreat: We have begun some internal discussions about possibly hosting a LabourStart retreat in Tunis in March 2015. More details coming soon. We are trying out a new online tool called Trello to coordinate this.

Ello: Finally, LabourStart is probably the first labour movement institution with a page on Ello, the new social network.

For details on most of these, see the posts from throughout September on Inside LabourStart.

Sep
12
2014
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Promoting FastMail as a more secure Gmail alternative – and earning commissions for LabourStart

FastMailWe earn a few dollars every time someone signs up to FastMail using this link: http://www.fastmail.fm/?STKI=7274533

I made the case here why I think people should do this anyway – If you care about your privacy and use Gmail, read this.

Here’s a short quote from that article:

Soon, we’ll have Google Glasses and driverless cars and countless other bits of hardware and software that turn our lives into an open book. And that’s a book which is open not to the security services of governments which we, in the end, elect, but to the data mining departments at faceless, privately-owned giant corporations which are accountable to no one.

One could withdraw from all this, close down accounts on Facebook and Twitter, get rid of that FitBit, and ditch the mobile phone which can pinpoint exactly where we are at any moment. Or one could take some simple steps that would radically improve one’s privacy without totally disconnecting from everything.

An easy one is Gmail.

Written by admin in: FastMail |

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