3rd annual survey of trade union use of the net – the results

Here’s the summary prepared by Edd Mustill:

The respondents were a real mix of union members, many holding some sort of union position from branch upwards, but many lay members too. The comments also reveal that a number of retired members responded. The gender imbalance – about two-thirds male – is noticeable.

There have been big increases in the number of union members accessing the net on tablets, and smartphones continued to grow in popularity too. This accounts, no doubt, for the large number of people who now access the internet while travelling, making round the clock engagement more necessary than ever.

Google continues its surge in popularity, both in the use of its Chrome browser, and its social network Google+ (although how active Google+ members are on the network is open to question).

Facebook remains by far the most popular social network, but Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are all growing. Unions have responded to this well on Twitter, building themselves a good presence there, but are so far lagging behind their members when it comes to engaging with LinkedIn and Google+: 42.1% of members reported being on LinkedIn, but only 8.9% reported their union having a presence there. 26.6% are on Google+, but only 5.5% have noticed a union presence.

Members seem happy with the quality of online content they receive from their unions, whether it be an email newsletter or a video. But there are still large numbers – even among those filling out this survey – who don’t know whether their union produces, for example, online videos or a smartphone app. This suggests unions may need to do more to promote their online work to their members.

Some of the most interesting and potentially useful results came when we asked people what online work unions should be prioritising. Online campaigning and recruitment were favourites, and there was a big appetite for practical, day-to-day help to be made readily available on websites. The top 3 things that people wanted to see on union websites were: tips on workers’ rights, training for activists, and describing working conditions in companies.

To read a much more detailed account, click here to download the PDF file.

To see the full results of the survey, visit this password-protected site.  (Ask us for the password.)

Here is the same thing for the French survey.

Written by admin in: Surveys |

Weekly review – 7-22 March

Absence: I will be travelling all of next week, back at work on 1st April. Edd will cover for me in the office.

Campaigns launched: We launched a new UK-only campaign for the RMT — our third currently-active campaign for them.

Campaigns to come: In April we anticipate at least two new campaigns — DISK in Turkey wants our help dealing with a German employer who is trying to impose a yellow union on its employees. And UNI and BWI in Asia want us to campaign on behalf of an anti-trafficking campaigner (and LabourStart correspondent) who is being taken to court by a company in Thailand.

Campaigns closed: We closed two campaigns in the last two weeks — Netherlands (FNV) and El Salvador. No clear result in either case.

Campaign improvements: There will be a number of improvements in light of things I learned recently. In all upcoming campaigns, we’ll try to include a Radio Labour component; Marc Belanger has kindly offered to interview key people and we’ll integrate this into the campaigns. I’ve fixed how the campaigns will show when we link to them on Facebook — it will no longer show by default the LabourStart logo, and instead will allow us to choose a better photo from the campaign page itself. Finally, when we’d look at closed campaigns, the number of supporters shown was always wrong. This has now been fixed.

Mass mailings: We did our first A/B testing — see below. Interesting results.

New website design: Launched around 11 days ago. We are now working on getting many of the internal pages to conform to the new design. Masha has suggested a number of new logos. Derek pointed out two problems — top stories with long titles were over-writing the text below, and some stories were being orphaned over the three columns at the bottom; both now fixed. We learned that top news stories in other languages were appearing on the English home page; this too is now fixed.

Internationalization: We now have campaigns and mailings in Slovak. We have a home page displaying news in Korean (we’ve had Korean campaigns for some time). And our new home page design has been implemented in Esperanto — the first language other than English to use this.

The Global Labour Movement: An Introduction. Our second book — due for launch in early May. In addition to the bits that Edd is writing, we’ll have contributions from the British TUC, Amnesty International, ICTUR, the Global Labour Institutes, and Dan Gallin. And we have activists on the ground answering email interview questions about their relationship with the GUFs. Should be interesting and useful, and we hope to launch it on 4th May. Which brings us to …

LabourStart’s First-Ever May Day Party: Due to be held at London’s only union-owned pub, the Bread & Roses, on 4th May. We’re building interest in this and intend to push it very hard throughout April.

Public speeches: I spoke last week in Oxford at the annual e-Campaigning Forum, on a panel with Anita Gardner of IndustriALL and again on the closing panel. Next Sunday, I’ve been invited to speak at a fringe meeting at the annual conference of Britain’s largest teachers’ union, the NASUWT, on the subject of jailed teacher trade unionists.

Third Annual Survey of Trade Union Use of the Net: Closed today. Expect a report shortly.


What subject lines work best for our mailings?

Everyone has an opinion about this, but for the first time, LabourStart has done what’s called A/B testing on one of our regular mailings.

Basically, we told MailChimp to write to 10% of the people on our list with one subject line, used a different subject line for another 10%, and then wait 24 hours.  The content of the message stayed the same.  The subject line that generated the most opens was then automatically selected for the remaining 80% of the list.

The results were as follows:

  • When the subject line was Victory: Valentin Urusov and Basile Mahan Gahé are now free, 14.5% of the recipients opened the message – a total of 1,116.
  • When the subject line didn’t include their names — it was simply Victory: Jailed union leaders freed 15.5% of the recipients opened the message, a total of 1,190.

In other words, the subject line that was free of names generated 74 more opens than the other, which would have translated to 740 additional opens over the entire list.

It’s not a massive difference, but it’s interesting.

Another thing we may want to test is whether mentioning a country name helps or hinders (e.g., Union leaders jailed vs Korean union leaders jailed).

Written by admin in: Mailing list |

Our 23rd language for campaigns

Slovak flag.A big thanks to Ján Zeleník who has translated the framework and the first campaign into Slovak.

This is the 23rd language we campaign in now.

You can see our current Turkish campaign in this language here.

We also now have a mailing list in this language with 15 subscribers to begin with.

Slovak is spoken by over 7 million native speakers in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Hungary.  The ITUC-affiliated Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic (KOZSR) has an estimated 261,000 members.

Written by admin in: Campaigns,Internationalization |

Some possible new LabourStart logos – what do you think?

Click on the image to enlarge:


Written by admin in: Site redesign |

Our new site – now live in English

I was forced to launch the new version of our home page in English prematurely due to a human error (my error), but in the end that’s good.  There are a number of things that weren’t ready just yet, so I’ll be updating this blog with details of the changes I’ve made today and in the next few days in line with things I know we need to fix, and suggestions that are coming in.  Please keep those suggestions coming!

Here are some of the fixes done today:

  1. A link has been added at the bottom of the page to the old home page — this is primarily to allow us to identify things which are there, but aren’t yet on the new page.
  2. I’ve restored a link to our Working Women page.
  3. And to our Newswires page.
  4. I restored the ‘view more news from your country or region’ box to the bottom list of current news stories.
  5. I restored the ‘submit news’ link.
  6. And finally, I restored the link to our privacy page.

There’s a lot more to do (including making this work for all languages), so consider this a process and please be patient.

Written by admin in: Site redesign |

Netherlands campaign – what we achieved

This is from the union there following the closing down of our campaign today.

Thank you, LS and its supporters for this campaign. As you know the incident at Pleyade happened within a large campaign in the care sector. Unfortunately this campaign did not come to an end yet and several other actions took (and will) place. As for the Pleyade incident the LabourStart campaign lead to better awareness of basic trade union rights within union ranks. We have been in contact with ILO and are considering a complaint procedure. We also will discuss this incident with the Police union to raise better awareness amongst police officers. The reason why this has not been done yet is a simular pending case from our sister union FNV Bondgenoten at the supreme court of the Netherlands, the ruling is expected in April and it looks promising. We do not want to make to much noise untill the ruling is there. With a positive ruling, over 8000 protest global respondents, and a possible ILO ruling we think we have a great case to settle this once and for all. In the mean time members at Pleyade where very encouraged by the support and strengthend in their believe that their union did nothing illegal.

So the announcement could be that ABVAKABO is very grateful to all repondents and LabourStart. Although the case is not settled yet, LS encouraged the workers and contributed to a diiscussion on trade union rights in the Netherlands. It opened up new avenues to ensure basic trade union rights in NL.

Written by admin in: Campaigns |

Be alert for something broken …

We’ve had to change the PHP version for our website to 5.4 (don’t ask) and there is a slim possibility that something, somewhere might break.  If anything on the site doesn’t work as it should, please let me know as soon as possible.  Thanks.

Update: This broke the home page in all languages except English – this is now fixed.

Update 2: English was broken too.  Now fixed.

Written by admin in: Uncategorized |

Weekly review – 26 February – 6 March

Annual survey: We’ve gone up from 500 responses to 2,082. We still need 872 more to beat last year’s record. We got an article on the TUC blog, Stronger Unions, which has helped boost interest in the UK.  We’ll stop collecting responses in just 13 more days — on 19 March.

Site re-design: I incorporated most of the comments made by comrades on what I did so far. Masha, who is a professional graphic designer, is going to suggest a new logo design soon — once we have that, we can go live, first with the English version. The draft site is here.

Campaigns: We launched our Turkey campaign and it’s already up to 8,613 supporters. We closed down the Bahrain and Netherlands FNV campaigns (see separate posts for reports.) Edd and I both did articles about the Turkey campaign for Solidarity and the New Left Project (a website).

Book 1 (Online campaigning): The French edition has been created and is available for purchase. Sales of both editions have now reached 611, with another 43 free copies given out, for a total of 654. We’ve now paid for ‘extended distribution’ meaning that the books (in English and French) will be available in bookshops and from other online retailers, including Amazon Canada.

Book 2 (Global labour movement): Edd and I are working hard on this one, aiming to get it ready by May Day. In addition to what we’re writing, we solicited submissions from a number of comrades and are pleased that we’ll have contributions from ICTUR, Amnesty, the Global Labour Institutes, the TUC and others. See more details here:

Internationalization: We’ll have campaigns in Slovak starting this week. All our campaigns have been translated into Esperanto and our translation group in that language now has 8 members. I’ve contributed an article (an interview, of sorts) for an Austrian Esperanto magazine about LabourStart. We’ll have a Korean interface for our news later today.

Fundraising: We now have a venue and date for our London May Day fundraiser – May 4th, 19:30 at the Bread and Roses pub.  Two months before the event, 77 people say they are coming or may be coming.

Public speeches: I spoke at the Unison Wales Women’s Development Weekend in Swansea on Saturday to an audience of about 26; I sold all 10 of the online campaigning books I brought with me. Next Wednesday, Edd and I (and Anita Gardner of IndustriALL) will be on a panel at the e-Campaigning Forum in Oxford. On March 31st, I’ve been invited to speak at a fringe meeting of the annual conference in Bournemouth of the teachers union NASUWT. In addition, Napo – the probation officers union – has asked me to run a workshop on social media.

Social Networks: We now have a page on Google+ which, according to our survey, is widely used by trade unionists.

App for smartphones and tablets: I’m completing one this week for the IUF and when done, I’ll know how to do the one for LabourStart.


LabourStart in Numbers – February 2013

The numbers in brackets are for the previous month. Strong gains are highlighted in bold.

Mailing lists

English: 76,322 [75,280]
French: 5,893 [5,922]
Spanish: 4,504 [4,392]
Italian: 3,888 [3,889]
Turkish: 3,116 [3,106]
German: 2,614 [2,586]
Norwegian: 2,369 [2,344]
Russian: 1,951 [1,935]
Dutch: 885 [803]
Chinese: 716 [708]
Finnish: 546 [187]
Polish: 318 [312]
Arabic: 252 [231]
Portuguese: 246 [243]
Japanese: 240 [230]
Hebrew: 208 [208]
Farsi: 207 [206]
Tagalog: 205
Swedish: 183 [183]
Korean 150 [143]
Danish: 144 [144]
Indonesian : 109
Czech: 96

Social networks

Twitter followers –
English: 8,659 [8,441]

Facebook –
Like page (English): 6,327 [6,098]
Members of LabourStart group: 4,909 [4,884]
Like LabourStart page (French): 279 [267]
Like LabourStart page (Turkish): 92 [87]

UnionBook –
Members: 5,440 [5,417]

LinkedIn – LabourStart group: 1,194 [1,153 ]

Union group on Flickr: 720 [719]


Correspondents: 613 [741]

Powered by WordPress | Aeros Theme | WordPress Themes