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LabourStart is the news and campaigning website of the international trade union movement.[citation needed] It distributes news both via its own website and also through a news syndication service (in both RSS and JavaScript formats) which is used by over 730 trade union websites around the world. There are newswires for specific languages, countries, regions, and some US states and every Canadian province. There are special newswires for online campaigns, women's labour news, and even a Health and Safety NewsWire run jointly with Hazards. The site has 638,000 unique visits per month as of February 2012.

News links are collected by a network of nearly 960 volunteer correspondents and appear in 27 languages.

In addition to the news, LabourStart features a collection of online labour news videos (LabourStart TV), a photo of the week, and annual competitions for the labour photo and video of the year.


LabourStart was founded in March 1998 as part of the website launched in 1996 by Eric Lee in order to provide updates to his book, The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism. The LabourStart website was initially hosted by Solinet, the website of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and its editor was based in Israel, on Kibbutz Ein Dor. In June 1998, Lee moved to London and the site has been based in Britain ever since.

From 1998 through 2002, LabourStart was a project of Labour and Society International (LSI), a non-governmental organisation based in London and initially headed up by Arthur Lipow, Stirling Smith and David Clement. At the end of 2002, LSI ceased functioning and LabourStart became entirely independent. At the same time, a number of LabourStart correspondents met up for the first time in London and have continued to meet online ever since. A number of correspondents have been named as Senior Correspondents and they, together with founding editor Lee, run the project on a day by day basis.

Campaign work[edit]

Central to LabourStart's efforts is its mailing lists, which started with around 500 names in 1998 and within four years had grown more than sixfold to 3,227 names. Five years later, it had grown even more, and by June 2007 there were more than 53,000 subscribers to the weekly newsletter. By April 2012, there were just under 100,000 names on the list. The mailing lists are used by LabourStart primarily to promote its online campaigns in support of workers' rights around the world.

In recent years, LabourStart has conducted dozens of global online campaigns on behalf of unions. These campaigns have led in many cases to companies and governments being compelled to release jailed trade unionists, to negotiate with unions, and so on. Recent LabourStart online campaigns call on the Egyptian government to overturn the jail sentence for Kamal Abbas and on the government of Iran to not execute jailed trade unionist and university teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari. These campaigns are initiatives of the International Trade Union Confederation and the Education International with which LabourStart has an ongoing partnership in promoting workers' rights through online campaigns.

In October 2011 a LabourStart campaign in support of striking Suzuki workers in India collected over 7,000 supporters in less than four days and led to the company and union coming back to the negotiating table and an end to a bitter strike. It was one of the five largest campaigns LabourStart ever ran.

This was followed by a very short campaign to secure the release of two jailed Fijian trade unionists. Following the sending of 4,000 protest email messages, both were released within 24 hours.

In April 2012, a LabourStart campaign demanding the release of jailed Kosovar metal workers union leader Hasan Abazi, who had been arrested in Serbia on his way to a European metal workers union event, lasted for 17 days. Nearly 8,000 messages of protest were sent to the Serbian government. On 20 April, Abazi was freed on bail and returned to Kosovo.

LabourStart campaigns are sponsored or endorsed by a trade union or global union federation. LabourStart's campaign services are provided to unions at no charge.

Global Solidarity Conferences[edit]

LabourStart holds annual Global Solidarity Conferences. Following small international meetings in London and Washington DC in 2008 and 2009, major events were held in Hamilton, Ontario in 2010 and in Istanbul in 2011. The next conferences are planned for Sydney, Australia (2012) and Berlin, Germany (2014).


In 2010 LabourStart launched UnionBook, a social network for trade unionists. It runs on the Ning platform. By March 2012 it had just over 5,000 members.

Educational Activities[edit]

LabourStart volunteers regularly conduct workshops on the organizing potential of the new media for unions.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]