Oct
29
2015
1

Report on the LabourStart Retreat in Brussels last month

This report was drafted by Martina and edited by Eric. Comments are open — please feel free to make comments and ask questions below.

The LabourStart Retreat had the character of a working meeting. Presentations by Dan Gallin, Martina Hartung, Eric Lee and Gisela Neunhoeffer prepared the basis for discussions and we worked concretely on specific subjects in working groups or in a World Café format. This mix of presentation and discussion enabled the successful integration of all participants on all subjects and the result wasa detailed and concrete future action plan. Unfortunately, one speaker had to cancel due to illness in the short term. Besides that, there weren’t any further changes to the program. (more…)

Written by admin in: 2015 Retreat |
Sep
22
2015
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LabourStart’s first-ever strategic retreat

On 18-20 September, about 25 LabourStart senior correspondents and translators, together with partners from the global union federations, met at the offices of the German national trade union centre in Brussels for our first-ever strategic retreat.

It was a meeting with few speeches and lots of discussion and resulted in a long action plan, including the creation of a very small Executive and a number of working groups.

The Executive members (pictured below) are Espen Løken, Andrew Casey, Kirill Buketov, Silvana Pennella, Eric Lee (editor), Gisela Neunhöffer, and Derek Blackadder.

executive

More details to follow in the next few weeks.

Here are some other highlights of the last two weeks (in alphabetical order by subject) …

Bank: Our bank, the trade-union-owned Unity Trust, has changed its sort code. If you need to make transfers to our account, write to [email protected] and I’ll send you the new details.

Books: I have ordered, and will be distributing, 60 copies of our red book on online campaigning at the upcoming FES event on online campaigning in Berlin, early next month.

Campaigns:

  • We launched a new campaign in support of workers in Kyrgyzstan, working together with IndustriAll.
  • Mulberry, the target of our current Turkey campaign, has written to everyone who sent a message laying out their side of the story. IndustriALL will be giving us a response.
  • We are in discussions with FIM, the musicians’ GUF, about a possible campaign in support of their affiliate in Cameroon.
  • We sent out a mass mailing in English to promote our victory in Aeroflot — and to encourage people to sign up to all our current campaigns.
  • Though not a formal campaign, we gave extensive publicity on the site and on social media to the death in custody of an Iranian trade union activist, Shahrokh Zamani.

Conference: Our Global Solidarity Conference will be held in Toronto in May 2016. More details coming soon.

Inside LS (this blog): I’ve tried to fix the automated mailings of new posts from here so that the subject line isn’t always “Breaking News” — we’ll know in a moment if that worked.

Mailing lists: We added 193 new subscribers this week, 245 last week, and 580 the week before that, for total of 1,018 — mostly to the English list.

Portuguese/Brazilian LS: We’ve gotten our Facebook and Twitter feeds going now. We also now have a ‘What is LS?’ page there in Portuguese.

Outreach:

  • The German national trade union centre DGB has a major article on LabourStart in their magazine, both the print and online versions.
  • I completed the text of an interview about LS for an Italian language magazine published in Luxemburg.
  • I was invited to speak at two meetings of Waltham Forest UNISON in North London, and publicized our campaigns, giving out our flyers to a few dozen members.
  • Several of us met in Brussels with the head of communications of the European Trade Union Confederation and discussed cooperation.

UnionBook: We’ve had to migrate control of the domain name (unionbook.org) from our previous provider, and managed to get this to work, though the site was offline for several hours. We’ve removed all references to LabourStart from its front page as we consider next steps for this social network.

Sep
07
2015
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Summer’s over – and LabourStart gets busy again

It’s not been much of summer here in London, but then again, it never is.

Here’s how we’ve spent the last 3 weeks:

Campaigns

We launched one in support of port workers in Gdansk, together with Solidarnosc and the ITF. As today, it has 7,045 supporters and appears in 14 languages, including Polish.

We also launched a new campaign in support of striking workers at the National Gallery in London, together with PSI and the PCS union in Britain. After just a week, the campaign has 6,140 supporters and appears in 9 languages.

We closed down the China campaign, launched in June. It had 10,373 supporters. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions told us that the campaign helped “to spread out the message and to draw attention to the imprisoned labour activists” and “although we did not hear any feedback from the Chinese government, there is one [piece of] legislation which was mentioned in this statement restricting the operation and international connection of NGOs in mainland was postponed.”

After closing the recent Hungary campaign, we receive this from the union: “Tamás Járási, president of MCDSz, thanks all those who supported this campaign. The company was upset by it, and told workers it was not a ‘true’ campaign but ‘only a spam driven from London’, and apparently complained to the Dutch ambassador about it. The union judged the campaign to be a success, and said it strengthened morale among the workers. Meanwhile, the struggle continues.”

We have been asked for help by a union in Congo and have passed this on to UNI, who are looking into it.

We’ve agreed to help BWI with a campaign in the Gulf region later this month.

An Iran solidarity group is keen to have us help with a particular prisoner; we’ve raised this with friends at Amnesty International.  It is not clear which GUF could be called upon to support this particular prisoner.

We had a request for a campaign from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, but have not heard anything back from them after we asked some questions.

We also had a request for a campaign from Zimbabwe that stalled, and we await answers.

Mailing lists

We’ve improved the layout of mailings to our English list to give readers the chance to sign up to campaigns they missed, to donate to LabourStart, and more.

There was an attempt to add over 100 fake addresses to one of our lists, but we spotted it and spent some time dealing with the problem. We’ll need to tighten up security on our campaigns form to prevent this happening in future.

Books

We’ve resumed our partnership with unionized bookshop Powells.com with a low-key publicity campaign for a ‘book of the month’. This has led to a bit of an overhaul of our state news pages, with the country news pages coming next. (See the US states to see what I mean, for example Kentucky.)

Our Global Labour Movements book is currently being translated into Burmese (by the ILO office in Burma), into Portuguese (by Euan, our correspondent in Brazil) and Canadian (well, a Canadian edition) by Derek. The book is already available in English and French.

Events

Our events module wasn’t working on some pages (e.g., Canada, Portuguese) but is now, having been fixed.

Talks & other publicity

I have been invited to speak about LabourStart campaigns to UNISON Waltham Forest, in North London.

I will also be interviewed by an Italian-language magazine based in Luxemburg, about LabourStart, thanks to Silvana.

Apps

Andy has done the translation so that our next Android app will appear in French – in addition to the versions we have in English, Norwegian and Esperanto.

Global Solidarity Conference 2016

We’re still planning on this happening next spring in Toronto, and are waiting to confirm a final date.

Retreat

A lot of work was done by myself and others to prepare for next week’s Strategic Retreat in Brussels. More here when the Retreat is over.

Apr
21
2015
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Spring begins at LabourStart …

It was my intention to update the blog weekly, but that hasn’t happened for the last few weeks, so here are short reports on the first month of spring …

Apps

  • English: Andromo has made the fix we requested which will stop closed campaigns from showing in the app.  I need to test this fully the next time we close a campaign, which will be next week, and once I’m satisfied that this works, the new version of the app will go live in the Google Play store.
  • Norwegian: I did a lot of work on the Norwegian language Android app, which will serve as a model for our apps in other languages.  It’s very nearly done.

Campaigns

  • Even though the Rio Tinto campaign has been closed down, I’ve helped IndustriALL keep up the pressure by publicizing and participating in their recent protest in London at the Rio Tinto AGM.
  • The closed Turkish hospital campaign was reopened for a couple of weeks at Gisela’s request, as Ver.di was going to help publicize the campaign. Unfortunately, after a full week online, only 6 additional supporters have signed up to the campaign.
  • At the request of IndustriALL, I’ll let the Holcim campaign run for another few weeks.
  • PSI has helpfully offered to publicize the Swaziland campaign which we launched at the request of the ITUC on 24 March.  That campaign is growing slowly and has just 6,733 supporters today.

Courses

  • European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) course on online campaigning in June: This is a course we helped developed and run, and for the first time we’ve been given the green light to publicize it.  I’ve done this with emails and through social media, repeatedly, in the last few weeks.  LabourStart correspondents who are based in Europe should apply to attend.
  • I also publicized the Global Labour University course at their request.

Fundraising

  • We’ll do our annual fundraising appeal next week; I’ve sent around a request for thoughts to a few senior correspondents and will shortly be circulating a draft appeal.

Mailing list

  • This has been growing slowly as we’ve only had one new campaign in this period.  New campaign supporters continue to be added on a weekly basis.

News

  • I don’t normally report on this, but we should never forget how much work is being done every day by our volunteer correspondents.  So far in April (first 20 days), 65 of our 775 volunteer correspondents have posted 4,002 news stories to LabourStart — averaging 200 stories per day, or 61 per correspondent so far this month.  Leading the pack are some very active correspondents including Andrew Casey (809), Olivier Delbeke (718), Derek Blackadder (517), Roy Nitzberg (392) and Ginger Goodwin (203).

Outreach

  • Europe: Thanks to Silvana’s initiative, I’ve now met with senior figures in the European Economic and Social Committee Workers’ Group, and have been invited to address the group — which consists of trade unionists from across Europe — in July.  Two EESC staffers are now LabourStart correspondents.
  • Italy: Silvana has done some excellent work reaching out to Italian trade unions – a more detailed report is coming soon.

Retreat

  • We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for the LabourStart retreat in Brussels in September, working closely with ETUI on this.

Union Made

  • This is a possible new project we might help with – especially with publicity.  We’re working closely with the New Unionism Project on this.  More details soon.
Mar
04
2015
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New campaign, working women’s news, online forum, 2015 retreat, new address – another 6 days at LabourStart …

Campaigns:

We launched a new campaign yesterday in support of the ITF’s fight to get Ecuadorian trade unionist Jimena Lopez reinstated. The campaign is linked to International Women’s Day. In less than 24 hours, the campaign was live in three languages and had just under 3,000 supporters.

We did a special mailing on Monday in support of forestry workers in Gabon. They approached us for help, we turned to BWI and BWI have done their own online campaign which we’re supporting.  As a result of our effort, over 5,000 people visited their campaign page.

We’re about to close another Latin American campaign – this one was launched on the eve of the climate change summit in Peru. It was a somewhat small campaign for us, getting fewer than 6,000 supporters. I’ve asked PSI to update us on the results.

The fight with Rio Tinto has heated up. Tonight there’s a conference call with all the partners, led by IndustriALL — I’ll let you all know what’s happened. That campaign has already sent over 9,000 messages of protest, and the company is rather upset about all this.

Our largest current campaign remains the Turkish health care workers, with 10,639 supporters, a gain of 99 in the last 6 days. Some comrades in the UK have begun an effort to do a paper version of this campaign, and will be inputting the signatures manually.

IndustriALL have decided to use a different campaigning platform for their upcoming Turkey campaign which looks likely to be a big one.

Working Women’s News Page:

This has been updated and promoted, and we’ve gotten several more volunteer correspondents as a result. The page is here: http://www.labourstart.org/women The next step, I think, is to create pages in languages other than English. Any suggestions for pages we should be linking to are most welcome.

Correspondents’ forum:

I’ve downloaded some forum software we haven’t used before and will begin setting it up in order to test it. Update coming soon.

Solidarity Retreat 2015:

I’ve arranged a meeting with the European Trade Union Institute on 7 April in Brussels; I hope to be able to nail down dates before then if possible.

New contact details:

We have a new generic inbox for LabourStart — [email protected]. Expect to see more and more of this address being used.

We also have a new mailing address:

LabourStart
Suite 504
394 Muswell Hill Broadway
London N10 1DJ
U.K.

UnionBook:

We’ve sent a long list of issues to Ning, which is the platform we use for UnionBook, and have gotten a detailed response today. One of our more enthusiastic UnionBook members has been working on this, but the site remains largely dormant, though it has 5,857 members.

Jan
29
2015
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Week 4 of 2015: Deepening cooperation with the European Trade Union Institute

I’ve just come back from two days in Brussels where I had meetings at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and also with Silvio Gonzato, Director of Human Rights and Democracy at the European External Action Service.

ETUI will be holding a course which I proposed at the DGB (German national trade union centre) education center in Hattingen from 24-26 June 2015 which will focus primarily on LabourStart campaigns — and which will culminate in the live launch of an actual campaign. Invitations will go out in the next month or two.

Also ETUI has offered extensive cooperation with us in the holding of our 2015 Strategic Retreat — more details soon.  A big thanks to Silvana for all her help setting up these important meetings and deepening our cooperation with European trade union institutions.

In other news this week, we picked up nearly 300 new subscribers to our mailing lists. Our Lafarge Holcim campaign has now grown to over 8,000 messages; our Turkish health care workers campaign is one of our largest with 10,340 supporters; and we’ll shortly be closing our USA Zara campaign which only got 7,769 supporters in the three months it was online.

We’re making slow progress on publications — we have a Flickr group set up to receive candidate photos for our Global Labour Calendar; work continues on the migrant labour book; I’m waiting for some more documents before we can progress on our Global Crisis, Global Solidarity book.

We published links to an average of 193 news stories per day, every day in January so far, for a total of over 5,400 news stories.  74 of our correspondents have been active posting news in January — out of 763 correspondents.  In other words, over 90% of the correspondents did not post news in January.  Of those who did, 12 posted 100 or more stories.  If you’re reading this and are an inactive LabourStart correspondent and need help (don’t remember your password, or have forgotten how to add news), please don’t hesitate to write to me – [email protected].

Jan
21
2015
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Retreat postponed, campaign launched, work begins on our calendar – a review of week 3 of 2015

2015 Retreat: The Tunis retreat planned for March has been postponed. More details soon.

Campaigns

Holcim Lafarge: This campaign, launched last week, only had 5,000 supporters after the first 7 days, so I did a followup mailing to nearly 82,000 people on the English list who hadn’t yet signed up, according to MailChimp. As a result, we increased the number of supporters by more than a third, and are now just under 6,800. This number will rise as we get the campaign active in both German and Italian, two of our largest languages.

Istanbul Maltepe Hospital: This campaign is one of our largest, and now has just under 10,000 supporters, as we pick up another 700 this week.

Publications

Global Labour Calendar: A group of 7 of us have begun discussions of how to do this, focussing on how to print it, select the photos, and add the contents (labour history dates).

Global Crisis, Global Solidarity: I’m trying to move forward on publishing the papers presented at our 2014 conference, but we received very few of them and am now looking to find the workshop summaries which might give us more content.

Annual survey of trade union use of the net: I’ve written to our entire mailing list to try to get some help with volunteers to do this again.

Written by admin in: 2015 Retreat,Campaigns,Publications,Surveys |
Jan
15
2015
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Three campaigns, three publications, two surveys, one conference – week 2 of 2015 on LabourStart

2015 has gotten off to a brisk start.  Here’s my report on week 2:

Campaigns:

  • We launched one in support of sacked hospital workers in Turkey — our first campaign of 2015.  It’s already had 9,348 supporters in the last seven days and is likely to pass 10,000 shortly, making it our largest currently active campaign.  The campaign appears in 18 languages, including Chinese for the first time in a very long time. PSI and EPSU added themselves as supporters after a few days. The campaign can be found here: http://www.labourstart.org/go/maltepe
  • Today we’re launching another campaign in cooperation with IndustriALL, BWI and EFBWW, demanding that the merger of Holcim and Lafarge take workers’ rights into account.  That campaign is here: http://www.labourstart.org/go/nomerger
  • I closed the WIPO campaign after 3 months and 6,254 messages sent, but have not yet heard back from the union; we don’t know what effect, if any, the campaign had.  It is unfortunate that sometimes our partners do this, and neglect to keep us and our supporters informed.

Surveys:

  • We’ve gotten some volunteers and some ideas for our (almost) annual survey of trade union use of the net.  More details next week.
  • I’ll soon be publishing a detailed report on the results of our survey of LabourStart correspondents.

Publications:

  • A number of people have volunteered to help with our Global Labour Calendar for 2016.  People have stepped up with ideas on how to print it, to help add labour history content to it, and to translate it — well done! More details coming soon.
  • We’ve now exchanged contracts with Prof. Joe Atkins for The Strangers Among Us: Tales from a Global Migrant Labor Movement, a collection of essays which we will publish at the very end of this year.
  • I’ve resumed work on getting out Global Crisis, Global Solidarity — our book of conference papers, long overdue.

Retreat 2015:

  • We’ve had some discussions about this; more details next week when I know them.

Internationalization:

  • We now have a Swedish-language Twitter feed and Facebook page which we’ll publicize next week.
  • I had a full day with our senior correspondent in the Caribbean, Dave Smith, and we discussed a number of issues relating to LabourStart’s activities in that region.

Apps:

  • Dave pointed out a problem with the display of regional news on the Android app which I will fix.
  • I have had an ongoing discussion with Como support about how the RSS feeds are displayed on our app.  A similar discussion with Andromo support led them to make a change in how they handle RSS feeds which should take effect soon.  Como and Andromo are two online tools we use (and pay for) to build our apps.

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