LA FEDERAZIONE INTERNAZIONALE DEI SERVIZI PUBBLICI CONDANNA I BRUTALI ATTACCHI CON LE BOMBE

La PSI condanna il brutale attacco con le bombe di questa mattina ( ieri per chi legge) , uccidendo 69 persone e ferendo 250 pacificisti che sfilavano ad Ankara. Gli affiliati della PSI , DISK e KESK partecipavano alla manifestazione pacifista per chiedere la fine delle violenze che si succedono tra i ribelli Kurdi e le forze di sicurezza Turche.

“C’e’stato un massacro nel centro di Ankara, ha detto Lami Ozgen, Segretario della Confederazione dei servizi pubblici, KESK . 2 bombe sono esplose a breve distanza. La Polizia sta ostacolando l’accesso alle autombulanze per i feriti”.

Le esplosioni si sono succedute vicino alla stazione ferroviaria di Ankara dove 100.000 persone si stavano riunendo per partecipare alla manifestazione organizzata dal settore dei lavoratori dei servizi pubblici nel paese. Non era chiaro ( subito dopo l’attentato, per chi legge ) se si trattasse di kamikaze. L’attacco avviene a qualche settimana dalle elezioni generali del 1 Novembre
Rosa Pavanelli, Segretaria Generale della PSI, ha dichiarato :

“Chiediamo al governo Turco di dare immediata assistenza alle vittime degli attacchi alle bombe avvenuti ad Ankara, e di fermare gli attacchi alla popolazione kurda. Ieri il premio Nobel per la pace e’stato attribuito al Quartetto Tunisino per il Dialogo Nazionale, incluso il sindacato UGTT. Questo e’un esempio che il governo turco dovrebbe prendere molto seriamente, ed aprire il dialogo con i sindacati e le organizzazioni democratiche per fermare la spirale di violenza e discriminazione che sta avvelenando il paese ».
Pavanelli continua  « Questo e’il messaggio che le delegazioni dei sindacati che parteciperanno ai prossimi eventi del GFMD e L20 dovrebbero trasmettere alla Turchia, chiedendo al governo turco di rispettare i sindacati e proteggere le minoranze ».
La PSI esprime la sua solidarieta’ e sincere condiglianze alle vittime e alle loro famiglie.

La CES : Il cuore dei sindacalisti con le vittime dell’attentato di Ankara

Luca Visentini, Segretario Generale della Confederazione Europea dei Sindacati , ha dichiarato sabato pomeriggio : ’I cuori ed i pensieri di tutti i sindacalisti sono con le persone decedute e ferite a seguito di questo terribile attentato ad Ankara. Esprimiamo tutta la nostra solidarieta’ alle vittime , alle loro famiglie ed ai loro cari »

Visentini ha condannato l’ assassinio a sangue freddo dei partecipanti alla manifestazione per la pace organizzata da affiliati della CES, i sindacati turchi DISK e KESK. « E’ un attacco feroce contro i sindacati e contro la pace. I responsabili non hanno alcun rispetto per la vita umana »

Il Segretario Generale della CES ha espresso preoccupazione per il fatto che la polizia abbia attaccato coloro che cercavano di aiutare le vittime, e ostacolato i servizi di emergenza nel raggiungere il luogo delle esplosioni.

Ha aggiunto : ” Ieri il Premio Nobel per la Pace e’stato dato a coloro che in Tunisia, compreso il movimento sindacale, hanno creato un dialogo nazionale contribuendo ad una pacifica transizione della democrazia. Oggi in Turchia vediamo l’assassinio a sangue freddo di coloro che chiedono la pace.

Nel corso della loro storia i sindacati hanno subito attacchi fisici, verbali e legali per difendere i lavoratori. L’attacco di oggi e’ un episodio particolarmente sanguinoso ed orribile. Ma i sindacati non saranno intimiditi e noi non ci fermeremo nel rappresentare i bisogni della classe lavoratrice. Tutti i sindacalisti sono con DISK e KESK »

La CSI condanna l’atroce attacco terrorista in Turchia

La CSI- Confederazione Sindacale Internazionale- ha condannato l’atroce attacco terrorista in Turchia dove sono morte 86 persone ( al momento in cui si scrive) e ferite 186 persone . 2 bombe sono esplose durante una manifestazione pacifista ad Ankara organizzata dai sindacati turchi e dalla societa’civile .

Sharan Burrow, Segretario Generale della CSI, ha dichiarato ”I nostri pensieri sono innanzitutto con le famiglie di coloro che hanno perso la loro vita e con i feriti. Questo attacco inferto al tessuto stesso della societa’civile aveva come obiettivo quello di intimidire e chiudere la bocca di tutti colori che amano la pace. La CSI estende tutta la sua solidarieta’ai nostri affiliati turchi, che hanno senza sosta e senza paura lavorato per la pace, la democrazia e i diritti di tutti.

2 esplosioni, apparentemente causate da kamikaze , si sono succedute una dietro l’altra . Le autorita’turche sono state pesantemente criticate per le azioni delle forze di sicurezza, che hanno bloccato l’accesso dei servizi medici alle vittime, e usato gas lacrimogeni per disperdere la manifestazione pacifica.

Chiediamo una piena, trasparente e indipendente indagine su tutte le circostanze dell’attacco e delle sue conseguenze »ha dichiarato Burrow, parlando da Sao Paolo dove la CSI sta tenendo il suo Consiglio Generale annuale.

La IUF condanna le bombe di Ankara come un attacco terroristico al lavoro, alla pace e alla democrazia.

2 esplosioni poco prima dell’ inizio della Marcia per “ il Lavoro, Pace e Democrazia” ad Ankara, Turchia, il 10 ottobre, hanno causato 86 morti ( al momento in cui scriviamo) con centinaia di feriti . I 2 sindacati, DISK e la Federazione dei Servizi pubblic KESK , rappresentanti anche dottori ed architetti, erano tra gli organizzatori. I 2 sindacati hanno convocato uno sciopero di 2 giorni a cominciare da lunedi per condannare l’attacco e permettere alla popolazione di partecipare ai funerali.La IUF si unisce al lutto delle famiglie, dei colleghi ed amici delle vittime.
Violenza e criminalizzazione del dissenso democratico si sono intensificati in Turchia dopo che lo sfondamento elettorale del Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP ha contrastato i piani del Presidente Erdogan nell’installare un esecutivo di governo autoritario. Le bombe del 10 Ottobre marcano una nuova ancora piu’pericolosa escalation
Il successo elettorale del HDP non ha solo bloccato i piani del partito al governo per accrescere la presa istituzionale del potere ; ma il HDP ha rappresentato una grande sfida all’intero sistema, come alternativa , con una larga base democratica, ai metodi e discorsi classici dell’AKP e dei suoi alleati.

Bombe e violenza di massa hanno percorso la campagna elettorale, con Erdogan che denigrava l’opposizione come ‘terrorista,marginale, gay e atea’. Non ci sono state azioni penali. I giri di vite aggressivi e retorici del dissenso democratico e gli attacchi alle liberta’civili si sono intensificati dopo le elezioni, in preparazione del voto di Novembre. Le bombe di Ankara hanno avuto un lungo periodo di incubazione
Il governo ha condannato le bombe e richiesto una indagine, ma il tutto nel quadro della’guerra al terrore’che ha neutralizzato il criticismo dei governi occidentali rispetto ai metodi violenti ed autoritari del governo stesso.Nessuno dovrebbe trattenere il respiro.La protezione della polizia e’mancata mentre la preparazione della Marcia cominciava ;dopo le esplosioni testimoni hanno confermato che la polizia ha usato gas lacrimogeni e cannoni d’acqua contro i dimostranti, impedendo immediate cure mediche per i feriti e i morenti .
La IUF esprime la sua piena solidarieta’e sostegno alle sorelle e fratelli in Turchia. E’ questo il momento per il sindacato , ovunque esso sia , di insistere perche’ogni possibile pressione internazionale sia esercitata sulla Turchia per assicurare che il governo provveda alla sicurezza di tutti i cittadini e al rispetto dei diritti fondamentali.

Statement on a meeting of trade unions held on 7 September 2015, Johannesburg

A significant number of trade unions and federations – FEDUSA and NACTU – met in Johannesburg on 7 September 2015 to analyse the state of the trade union movement in South Africa today, and to assess the prospects of achieving unity.

The meeting noted that while ‘Unity is Strength’ has been a watchword for all federations and many independent unions for decades, the reality is that the movement has become increasingly fragmented and weak, because:

–      There are 180 registered trade unions

–      70% of all workers are not in any union

–      Union membership is largely amongst the higher paid, permanent, directly employed workers

–      Many unions are divided and splintering

–      There is a reserve army of labour

The meeting agreed that such fragmentation leads to less power for the workers, at a time when they face unprecedented threats of mass retrenchments and attacks on union rights. Weak unions are also bad for democracy in the country as a whole, as it confronts the quadruple challenge of mass unemployment, deepening poverty, widening inequality and burgeoning corruption.

All the organisations present were happy with this initiative and fully endorsed the urgent need for strong, democratic and worker-controlled trade unions and a, united and independent national union movement, aligned with community struggles and with national campaigns against corruption and for better health and education services, a decent national minimum wage and an end to retrenchments.

The meeting discussed how to unite all workers around a minimum programme of action and to plan for a Workers Summit which will take this forward in a more detailed way.  It was also agreed, in the best traditions of union democracy and accountability, that each organisation required a firm mandate from its members before deciding on the best way forward to achieving these aims before taking decisions on specific ways to achieve them.

It was agreed to establish a steering committee, with one representative from each of the organisations present, to plan for a Worker’ Summit and chart the way forward. It was also agreed to reach out to other unions not present.

The meeting also agreed to mobilise the workers in force for the Unite Against Corruption March on 30th September and stressed that this campaign was against all forms of corruption in the public and private sectors and the inherently corrupt capitalist system.

For further information Patrick Craven on 061 636 6057

If you care about your privacy and use Gmail, read this

by Eric Lee

I recently read Dave Eggers’ new novel, The Circle, which describes a world in which a Facebook-Google-like company takes over people’s lives and brings about a complete end to privacy. Some would describe the book as being visionary, or a warning. I think it actually didn’t go far enough.

Increasingly, we live in a world without privacy.

Millions of us wear devices that track our every step (I use FitBit for that) and we record every morsel of food we eat (my food diary of choice these days is MyNetDiary). We use web browsers or even computers (such as Chromebooks) that track our every step on the net, every term we have ever searched for, every byte we have ever downloaded.

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.

I’ve ditched it and you can too.

When Gmail came on the scene, it was an exceptionally good web-based email client, and those of us who were using Hotmail (later purchased by Microsoft) or Yahoo Mail, eventually moved over to Google’s service. There was, however, one tiny little problem with Gmail.

It exists for just one reason: to help Google make money. Google is not in business to make the world a better place (OK, they say they are, but they’re lying). They are in business to make a profit. Gmail is a very important part of their business model.

They give it away for free (mostly), and crushed the competition by giving away more gigabytes of storage than anyone else.

Millions of us signed up to use it. And we discovered, if we were paying attention, how Google benefited from this: they data mine our emails. We turn over the content of our address books and our emails, including attachments, to Google, and in exchange they mine the data to find ways to sell us things.

If Google knows that you are discussing having a holiday in Spain with your friends and family, it will helpfully show you advertisements promoting various Spanish-related holiday deals — on the same screen as you see your emails.

Google will say in its defense that no one at Google reads your emails. That’s also a lie. While there are no slave-labouring children chained to their desks in Burma while they read your emails, there are massive server farms with countless thousands of powerful computers — and they are reading your emails.

That’s how Google makes it money from Gmail — by selling your most private information to anyone willing to pay for it, in order to sell you a product or service.

Now Google is not alone in doing this, and Facebook is possibly an even more egregious violator of your private space. Facebook’s business model is also to sell your information to advertisers, and they’re very good at this.

But the difference between using Gmail and using Facebook is an important one: if you quit Facebook, you lose access to all your friends and contacts who are, for better or worse, using the space.

But if you quit Gmail, you can move to an alternative web-based email platform and keep all your emails, all your contacts, as if nothing changed.

You use Facebook (and Twitter and LinkedIn and other social networks) to stay in touch with people who are part of closed digital ecosystems.

But you use Gmail as one of many possible email clients and quitting Gmail doesn’t mean you stop using email.

I’ve seen the difference between using Gmail and using a service that you may have to pay for (but which doesn’t run ads) summed up in this way: for Google, you are not a client, you are an asset.

I’d rather be a client than an asset. Let me explain why.

I’d rather pay a small amount of money to not see any ads — and more important to protect my privacy from the prying eyes of private corporations aiming to know me better in order to sell me more.

Most of the web-based email services out there are not much better than Gmail when it comes to privacy. But many of them acknowledge the privacy issues raised by Gmail’s practice.

When Microsoft launched Outlook.com as a replacement for Hotmail, it challenged Google on this very issue. In an online table comparing their service to Google’s and Yahoo’s, Microsoft writes that Outlook.com (unlike Gmail and Yahoo Mail) “doesn’t serve targeted ads based on email contents”.

But of course Microsoft is hardly to be trusted with one’s privacy any more than Google is. And one of the “advantages” of using it, they claim, is its tight integration with Facebook, Skype and Twitter. In other words, sharing your personal information across all those platforms rather than letting Google have it. Why do I not feel any more secure reading this?

If you don’t want to be anyone’s “asset” and are willing to pay a company a small amount of money to provide you with a web-based email service, here are the things you should be looking at:

  • How much would it cost?
  • What’s the company’s policy — and record — on privacy?
  • Can I easily migrate all my Gmail contacts and content (emails I’ve sent and received) to the new service?

The service I’ve chosen is Fastmail — an Australian based company that’s been around for 15 years, longer than Gmail.

For a time it was owned by Opera, the Norwegian browser company, but became independent recently as its original owners bought it back.

Here’s how Fastmail stacks up on the issues I raised above:

Cost: The most basic plan is just $10 per year, but that wouldn’t be very useful if you’re a serious email user. I am a very serious user, and I’ve gone for the Enhanced Plan — $40 per year, for which I receive 15 GB of email storage. All my emails in recent years total up to barely a third of that, so it’s plenty of room for most people. So I’m paying £2.00 a month for the privilege of privacy — and for a first-class, extremely fast and intuitive email server.

Fastmail’s privacy: This is a company that really does take privacy seriously. They not only show you no ads and sell your information to no one, but their website goes on at some length about privacy laws in Australia and much more. While there is no guarantee that they will be 100% better than Google, they’re already a lot better by not selling your information to anyone.

Migrating from Gmail: I admit that this had me worried. But actually, Fastmail has a one-click IMAP migration button. You basically tell it your email address on Gmail and your password there, and it goes to work. When it’s done, it sends you an email telling you how many emails it’s imported and where (into which folders) it has put them. It was completely painless. For the handful of people who may write to me at my old Gmail address (see more on this below), I’ve simply instructed Gmail to forward my mail to Fastmail, which it does.

But wouldn’t I have to inform everyone that I no longer have a Gmail address?

I don’t recommend that people use email addresses given to them by their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or web-based email companies. We need the flexibility to change ISPs and change web-based email providers whenever we want to. That’s why my own email address isn’t a Fastmail address or a Gmail address — it’s a labourstart.org address and I’ve had the same one for some 16 years, even though I’ve used a wide range of ISPs and web-based email companies over those years. Getting one’s own domain name is relatively cheap and if you can afford it, set up a permanent email address that will stay with you for life.

I’ve used Fastmail on and off in the past, but am committed to it now and encourage everyone who’s using Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo Mail to consider making the shift.

Click here to learn more.

Total Call : determined to fight all forms of trade unionism

The company Total Call is a call centre situated in Casablanca, and is a subsidiary of the Iliad Group which manages the “Free” brand. Staffing levels at the Casablanca site exceed 1,400 employees. Right up to this day, the company has always refused to allow the holding of worker delegate elections, as mandated by Morocco’s labour code and which was adopted by the different partners and ratified in Parliament in 2004. There is no union representation, but this is not because the workers don’t wish for it.

Subsequently, as of 2009, the workers initiated their first attempts at becoming organised with the support of the Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT). The first attempt failed and the members of the union local were dismissed.

In light of the events that took place in Morocco in 2011, the workers made another attempt that year, and again in 2012, but management’s retaliation was severe – and – after having dismissed the members of the union local, the workers started on a long strike and sit-in in front of the call centre’s offices. Despite both local and international solidarity, management proceeded to dismiss dozens of workers and the union local was dissolved.

Finally, as of 2013, with the creation by the UMT of the National Commission for Call Centre Organising (CNOC), a group of activists established a new union local and took great care to protect the employees by working effectively clandestinely until they obtained their official government certificate attesting to the union local’s legal existence.

On the 13th of February 2014, the day after having received the official government certification, management did not hesitate and proceeded to dismiss 5 members of the union local. Prior to doing so, management had attempted to get them to renounce their union affiliation, by offering material advantages.

Solidly supported by the central UMT union which immediately took the step of writing to the CGEM employers’ federation, to the AMRC association of call centre operators, and the local authorities, the CNOC organised a sit-in in front of the regional headquarters of the Ministry of Labour, as well as in front of the employer to denounce their illegal decision. There was no response, and the leaders of the UMT proceeded to present the problem to the local and national authorities – except these did not act either.

Coincidentally, the date of this dismissal coincided with the organisation of an international conference on call centres in Orlando by UNI-Global Union and the CWA. Our delegate and the CNOC coordinator were able to present the situation at the conference, after which a large wave of international solidarity followed.

Coordinating with the Comrades from the Solidarity Center and UNI-ICTS, LabourStart was solicited to start an international campaign via the “ActNow!” campaign. The latter organisation received the necessary explanations and did not hesitate in supporting the UMT’s activists.

The icing on the cake came, when Comrade Mostapha Berrchid – the general secretary of the Total Call union local – was invited to participate at the “Global Solidarity Conference” in Berlin from the 22nd to the 25th of May 2014, where he was applauded and welcomed as a hero after having made introductory remarks at the opening of the conference to explain the situation and obtain support from the delegates for trade union activism in Moroccan call centres.

In addition to activists, correspondents, and supporters of LabourStart from around the world, dozens of Moroccans have been able to – for the first time ever, participate in an on-line LabourStart campaign. And record numbers were achieved, not only for the participation of Moroccans, but in the level of support for a Moroccan trades’ union cause – with 8,527 signatures.

This marks the occasion of a new and promising activist experience for union causes in Morocco.

As of today, even though the management of Total Call has not backed down, they have however been placed in a compromising situation: hesitating between engaging in a dialogue with the UMT, organising worker delegate elections, recognising the right to freedom of association, or trying to buy time by maintaining the status quo. The “devil’s advocates” continue to exhort the management not to recognise trades’ union rights, or – failing that – to create a “yellow” union, or to organise false delegate elections.

But one thing is certain, and that is that the management of Total Call cannot continue to play dumb, especially after the hard knock they have received as a result of the LabourStart campaign against their repeated violations of trades’ union rights and freedoms.

Today, the lessons of international solidarity are more than ever a symbol of hope for us and for the comrades at Total Call, as well as for all the women and men working at call centres. It is them who have been most supported to see the number of friends they have around the world, as well as the strength of our links to LabourStart, with the Solidarity Center, with UNI-ICTS, as well as with other trades’ union organisations in France, Belgium, Tunisia, the USA and elsewhere.

We are now better supported and more determined than ever to continue with our struggle for freedom and our rights, and we know that we can count on you all.

We would like to thank the comrades: Michael Schwaabe, Eric Lee, Alan Tate, and all the others.

Long live international solidarity.
For the CNOC – UMT
Mohamed El Wafy, coordinator
and
Mostapha Berrchid – Total Call General Secretary

Protests mark first month since illegal dismissal of 24 union officials at NXP Philippines

Series of protest actions on 5 June 2014 marked the 1st month of the illegal dismissal of 24 union officers in NXP Cabuyao.

A picket protest in the morning in front of the main office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) served as the kick-off activity. Various organizations expressed support to the NXP fight. Representative Fernando Hicap, Anakpawis Partylist Representative, also came and spoke at the rally. Rep. Hicap said he has already filed in the House of Representatives an investigation in aid of legislation with regard to NXP workers’ issues.

Read the full report, with photos, here.

Victory for workers’ rights at the United Nations

by Ian Richards
President of the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations
Vice-President of the United Nations Staff-Management Committee

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the campaign by UN unions to restore the recognition rights of UN staff has secured a successful outcome.

On behalf of the unions of the United Nations, I would like to thank you, LabourStart and your 14,000 members who sent emails to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their fantastic support during the campaign. Your efforts helped persuade the Secretary-General and his team that the UN should live up to its principles on human rights and labour representation.

We know that management only came back to the table because unions, organizations and working people around the world were united in their anger at the way the Secretary-General withdrew trade union recognition last June.

The Secretary-General has agreed a new negotiating system that significantly improves on the UN Staff Management Committee (SMC) rules that applied previously.

Most importantly, the right of unions to represent UN staff has been restored, bringing to an end the crisis in staff-management relations caused when the Secretary-General’s representatives walked out of SMC.

This unilateral action by management left us unable to negotiate over crucial system-wide issues such as mobility policy, safety and security in the field, protection for whistle-blowers and rights for dependents of UN staff killed and injured in service.

Highlights of the new negotiating system include:
Increased regular contact on system-wide issues with formal meetings every three months, meaning pressing items can no longer be kicked into the long grass
If the Secretary-General doesn’t agree an SMC recommendation, or agrees but doesn’t implement, the issue will automatically come back to the table within strict time limits, leading to swift renegotiation
Where there is clear disagreement, we’ve regained the right to mediation as before, with a third-party mediator appointed from an agreed roster and a strict timetable for resolution
If an issue has to go to the General Assembly, management will share the draft Secretary-General report with staff, allowing us to intervene before any decision is made.
Results of SMC meetings will be communicated to all staff with a status report showing items ‘Agreed,’ ‘Not Agreed,’ or ‘Pending’.

The agreement represents a major success for UN staff and unions and for our friends in the wider union movement. It would not have been achieved without your support to our ‘UN UNION RIGHTS’ campaign, the personal testimonies of staff, and media coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and other newspapers internationally.

We have made new friends across the world and raised awareness of the issues we deal with every day. These gains have strengthened the position of the UN’s unions for the challenges ahead and you played a key role in this.

Thank you again.

Global solidarity on display in Berlin as trade unionists meet at LabourStart conference

lsberlinpanel

LabourStart’s annual Global Solidarity Conference took place in Berlin this year, and it was by far the largest one we’ve ever held. 360 trade unionists from many different countries came to Germany to take part in workshops, debates, film showings and conversation.  The conference theme was “Global Crisis – Global Solidarity”.

The conference came shortly after the congress of the International Trade Union Confederation, also in Berlin, and many ITUC delegates came along to LabourStart afterwards. While both conferences are important opportunities for labour movement activists, LabourStart conferences aim to achieve something quite distinct. No motions were voted upon, nor elections held, and any trade unionist could come along be they a General Secretary, a shop steward or a rank-and-file member. Rather than being a formal decision-making body, Global Solidarity Conferences are an opportunity for workers from all over the world to meet up, share their experiences and discuss ideas.

And what better place for it than Berlin? At the heart of Europe, the city is immensely rich in labour movement history. In the 19th century, Berlin was the cradle of a new trade union movement, workers’ cultural associations and socialist politics, earning a reputation as the ‘capital city of social democracy’. Today, the city is full of streets and squares named after famous trade unionists, socialists and workers’ leaders.

With so many people coming to the conference, we needed a building large enough to accommodate them. Luckily, the German service workers’ union, Ver.di, was on hand to lend us their magnificent (and enormous!) headquarters. Right next to the historic workers’ quarter of Kreuzberg, conference participants were able to begin the weekend with two walking tours, led by Win Windisch and Gunter Regneri, taking in the sights from Berlin’s political past.

Back at Ver.di HQ, conference opened with a introduction to LabourStart. Derek Blackadder of the Canadian Union of Public Employees told participants about the online campaigns that LabourStart runs in support of workers’ struggles, as well as the comprehensive news service we provide on trade union issues. He explained how all of this was possible thanks to a global network of hundreds of correspondents and volunteers, translating, reporting and publicising in their own free time.

Shortly afterwards, a plenary session was held to discuss the topic of the global crisis, and how best to build union power on a global level.

The first speaker was Dave Oliver, head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who had also opened the previous LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Sydney.

Conference was then addressed by Kıvanç Eliaçık of the Turkish union federation DISK, who spoke of the repression faced by workers in Turkey, and lead a minute’s silence to remember the miners killed in the horrendous Soma disaster.

The plenary also heard Mag Wompel of LaborNet and Michael Bride of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union in the USA, who discussed the difficulties of organising workers along the supply chains of multinational enterprises, and how such a feat can be achieved. We were also delighted to have a speech by Mostafa Berrchid, a sacked call centre worker from Casablanca whose struggle for justice LabourStart has been proud to support. After the plenary had finished, conference was treated to wine, beer and nibbles, and serenaded by a trade union choir. Hats off to any musical collective with a range that stretches from Hanns Eisler, through the Internationale all the way to John Lennon!

Plenary sessions continued on the Saturday morning, opened by ver.di chairman Frank Bsirske. A panel followed with six speakers, five of them women. They included Myrtle Witbooi, founding leader of the newly-formed International Domestic Workers Federation), Burcu Ayan from the IUF, Petra Brannmark from IndustriALL, Nazma Akter from Bangladesh, and Claudia Rahman from IG Metall (Germany).

Over the course of the weekend, discussions were held on all sorts of different topics of importance to the workers’ movement. Some of these addressed technical questions, such as how best to harness the potential of social media, radio and the mainstream press. Others delved into political questions that face our movement, such as how to support trade unionists struggling underneath autocratic and authoritarian regimes. Sparks flew in debates on the situation of the labour movement in the post-Soviet countries, as well as what approach to take to the regime-controlled ‘official’ state unions in China.

Away from the heat of controversy, participants were able to sit back and take advantage of the warm weather on Saturday evening at Jockels Beer Garden. This was a great opportunity to chat with comrades and colleagues from across the globe, as well as to sample Germany’s famous range of beers. A klezmer band also put on a raucous show to raise money for victimised anti-fascists in Germany and Greece.

Throughout the conference, copies of LabourStart’s new book, Solidarity, were on sale. The book is a collection of essays by Dan Gallin, former leader of the International Union of Foodworkers, and a critical thinker on the tasks of the labour movement. Dan gave a talk on his long and extraordinarily varied career in labour politics, a career that began with heterodox Trotskyism in the United States, lead on to involvement with the highest level of trade union politics, and which included clashes with CIA infiltrators and Soviet Bloc bureaucrats alike. He shared his thoughts on how to rebuild a labour movement with a campaigning spirit and a political brain, and afterwards he signed copies of his books for a long queue of people.

The conference wasn’t limited to just talk, either. We also took advantage of our numbers to stage a protest against Edeka, a company which has been exploiting Brazilian workers producing orange juice for sale in Germany, as well as its workers in Germany (who are organized by ver.di). After sessions had finished, we marched with our many different union banners through the streets of Berlin, and held a rally outside an Edeka store. Speeches were given calling on the company to give a fair deal to its workers in Brazil.

The conference ended with a session on LabourStart and the global labour movement, and the speakers included Espen Loken from the energy workers union in Norway, Martina Hartung from ver.di, Kirill Buketov from the IUF, Sunghee Oh from the Korean Government Employees Union and Eric Lee, LabourStart’s founding editor. It ended with a rousing singing of the “Internationale” in dozens of languages.

At the end of the conference, LabourStart correspondents met to discuss our work over the last year, and talk through ideas to build and improve LabourStart. With so much of our work taking place online, this was a useful chance to piece together a strategy together, in the flesh. We came up with some great ideas about how to co-ordinate correspondents on a local level, how to improve the website and campaigns pages to get the best out of them, and how to build on this year’s success for future conferences.

Conference this year was a brilliant one. Not only was it a great turnout, but the quality of the discussions was excellent and lots of us will have taken away some valuable experiences. LabourStart would like to thank everyone for coming, and extend particular thanks to those who put in a lot of time and effort into organising it. None of what we achieved would have been possible without the work of many people, nearly all of them doing so on a purely voluntary basis. Thanks to all who came along, and if you didn’t make it this time, see you next year in Vancouver.

— Tom Harris and Eric Lee