Jan
31
2012
1

Turkey: Closed GEA campaign was part of trend of much larger campaigns

At the request of the International Metalworkers Federation, we’re closing the campaign launched two months ago targeting the German-owned GEA company which had locked out workers in Turkey. (The company is currently involved in negotiations with the union and the IMF, and acknowledged the received of many thousands of email messages.)

This campaign was the fifth one in less than two months to reach the target of 5,000 messages sent.

In the previous eighteen months, only one other campaign reached that (the CUPW campaign in Canada).

In fact, a glance at the last ten campaigns launched in late 2010 showed that only one got over 3,000 messages sent.

So campaigns are growing much larger – in fact, they’re pretty much double the size now they were a year ago.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |
Jan
30
2012
5

Twitter – coming soon in every LabourStart language

We’ve had Twitter feeds in English (5,368 followers) and French (90 followers)  for some time now; this week we launched one in Japanese (2 followers) as well.

Today I began the process of setting up 10 more for all the languages we regularly campaign in.  (I’ve begun work on the German feed.)

The Twitter feeds, which we will publicize, will be one more way to get the word out about our campaigns in those languages.

Written by admin in: Twitter |
Jan
30
2012
0

Save the date: 26-29 November 2012

LabourStart’s third annual Global Solidarity Conference is due to open in Sydney in less than 10 months time.

Andrew Casey is pulling together an organizing committee, so if you’re from Australia and are reading this, please contact him –  [email protected] – to get involved.

We’ll launch a proper conference blog in a little while, but for now will post updates here, to Inside LabourStart.

Written by admin in: 2012 conference |
Jan
26
2012
0

Bahrain: New campaign in, old campaign out

Mahdi.The Education International has asked us to close down the Bahrain campaign we launched only 7 weeks ago — and which had attracted a healthy 5,160 supporters — and replace it with a new one today.

The new campaign shifts the focus to the leader of the teachers’ union in that country (pictured), Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb.

This will be the first campaign we do which makes use of the new “src” tag, allowing us to see for the first time how people are coming to our campaigns.

Please spread the word.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |
Jan
26
2012
2

South Africa: 8 years of LabourStart campaigns

saccawu logo.cwu logo.ceppwawu logo.

From 2004 through 2010, LabourStart ran five campaigns in support of South African trade unions.

Though the campaigns have been relatively small, they have attracted 960 South African trade unionists to LabourStart’s mailing list.

And in at least two cases, the campaigns contributed to significant victories for the workers.

Three of those campaigns were run at the request of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), a COSATU-affiliated union claiming 107,000 members.

The largest of those campaigns was launched in December 2009 under the headline “Sun International must negotiate with strikers – not try to break their union”.

The other two were “Support striking workers at Dis-Chem” (June 2010) and “Woolworths engages in union-busting” (October 2008).

These were not large campaigns by LabourStart standards. The Sun International got just over 3,600 supporters; Dis-Chem had less than half that (1,700 supporters) and the Woolworths campaign was smaller still — just 937 supporters.

We reported on an agreement reached between Sun International and the union in February 2010. According to the IUF, “The seven-week strike by SACCAWU at South African hotel chain Sun International has ended with a negotiated settlement which brings important gains for union members. SACCAWU’s January 25 official release (which warmly thanked the workers’ international supporters for their solidarity during the long and bitter conflict) on the settlement describes the strike as ‘marked by an extreme intransigence on the side of the company, coupled with violence from the SAPS and private security on the picket-line, including racist and sexist insults, extreme provocations, assaults as well as arrests of numerous strikers, a full-time shop steward and a union official’.”

But we don’t know much about how the other campaigns turned out. For example, the last news story on LabourStart about Dis-Chem is from July 2010 and reports on Cosatu’s support of the strike. There has been no news about Woolworths on our site since October 2008.

It would be hard to find out from SACCAWU itself, as its website no longer exists.

A campaign launched by LabourStart in June 2009 in support of shop stewards sacked for going out on a safety strike also contributed to the resolution of the dispute. This was a campaign in support of Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (CEPPWAWU), a COSATU affiliated union claiming 67,000 members. The campaign came to us from their global union federation, the ICEM. It generated a respectable 2,300 messages sent and according to the ICEM, “the parties came to a negotiated memorandum on the issue of suspension of shop stewards and others, following unprotected safety strikes in April and May. A 4-page memorandum was signed August 5 putting and end to the conflict. There were no dismissals, and that is good news, considering Sappi had originally sought job dismissals on some. … The ICEM thanks all those who supported this campaign and congratulates both Sappi and CEPPWAWU for putting this dispute behind them.”

The earliest campaign we did in support of a South African union was back in August 2004 when we built support for the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is also COSATU-affiliated and claims 44,000 members. The campaign protested job cuts and attracted considerable media attention. LabourStart was thanked in the union’s print publication for our contribution. There has been continuing coverage of Telkom and the union ever since on LabourStart.

It’s important that we build upon these experiences and learn lessons. Here are some random thoughts:

1. The campaigns are bigger, and we get more detailed reports on how they turned out, when we work closely with global union federations. The GUFs are able to get the local union activists to provide news — and the two campaigns we ran with GUFs involved (Sun International and Sappi) did considerably better in terms of the number of supporters.

2. Now that we have close to 1,000 South Africans on our mailing list, it’s important that we make a special effort to reach out to them when we have a South African campaign. We certainly didn’t have this base of support in country back in 2004 when we started.

3. We should consider adding at least one of the 11 official South African languages to our campaign system — possibly Afrikaans or Zulu. This would send a clear message to all that our campaigns are not just targeting the elite, but all workers.

4. We must make it clearer to unions that we expect them to inform us when a campaign can be closed, and what the result of the campaign was. This is especially true in the case of SACCAWU.

5. There are many important disputes taking place in South Africa today and we must be more pro-active in encouraging unions there to allow us to help them campaign. The fact that we have not done a campaign there since June 2010 is not good, because there have been some real possibilities for large-scale campaigns — such as SACCAWU’s campaign against Wal-Mart. That would have gotten considerable global attention and might have helped the union, which has been struggling — not least to raise the funds for legal work on this.

6. The fact that we have made a considerable contribution to resolutions of disputes in Sun International and Sappi is not well known in the South African labour movement and we should do more to let unions know what we have done, and what we can do in future, to help them.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |
Jan
26
2012
0

Our survey after just 3 days: 30% bigger than last year, now in 2 languages

Last year’s first annual survey of trade unions and net generated 1,336 responses; this year’s has already considerably exceeded that after just 3 days. We’ve had 1,593 responses to the English version of the survey and another 154 to the French version for a total of 1,747, a growth of 30%. Please encourage union members in your country to sign up: English version / French version.

Written by admin in: Surveys |
Jan
24
2012
0

Ecuador campaign closes

We’ve just closed the Ecuador campaign which ran for two months and was not one of our largest. But PSI tells us that it had an effect:

“Combined with other actions by PSI, it generated a useful response from the government – a detailed letter of response, which at one stage the government was also copying to all those who had signed the on-line campaign. The response itself was rather unsatisfactory, but useful to our affiliates in terms of media work and keeping up the pressure. The President’s office has also asked the labour minister to explore the possibility of a meeting with PSI representatives in order to discuss matters further.”

Written by admin in: Campaigns |
Jan
23
2012
2

2d annual survey of trade union use of the net

This is going live today.  Last year’s survey results are here.  This year’s survey is here.  Please spread the word.

Written by admin in: Surveys |
Jan
19
2012
6

Tracking where our campaign supporters come from

We know, sort of, that our mass mailings generate the vast majority of supporters for any of our campaigns.  And that things like links on websites, Twitter and Facebook are somewhat over-rated in this sense.  But to prove it — and to find out how people really do come to our campaigns and sign up — I’ve just written some code that allows us to track exactly this.

Normally, when we tell people about a campaign we give out this code (for example) — I’ve had to break this into 2 lines to make it readable:

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/
solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=1239

Now we have the option of adding on a parameter — done like this:

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/
solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=1239&src=test

This tells our system that the source of this visit to our campaign is from “test“.

It’s very important to do the code exactly like that, with no spaces at all.

You can see an example of how we can track this, starting today, here.  Scroll to the very bottom and look at record 4187 (my name).  See the red text?  That’s because I used the link ending in “&src=test”.

I’m going to try this out today using a few online tools.  You should see results soon by scrolling down to the bottom of this page.  Make sure to refresh the page to see new supporters.  I’ve used the following codes: unionbook, twitter, lsfbpage and lsfbgroup. These should be pretty obvious.  But any codes will do (e.g., blackadder) – but they should be less than 16 characters and include no blank spaces.

I think we should begin doing this in our MailChimp mailings, when we post to Facebook and Twitter, when unions put links on their home pages, in our ActNOW newswire and so on.  I think we’ll learn a lot by doing so.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |
Jan
18
2012
2

100 days from now, we’ll have a new website

I’m starting very slowly to build one here.  There’s nothing to look at there just yet — there’s a short list of what I want to do, and I’ve been experimenting with rounded corners and floating columns, for those of you interested in CSS.  My target date for announcing the new website is 100 days from now — on 27 April 2012.

Written by admin in: Site redesign |

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