Union Songs

Do online campaigns really work?

November 2003 Burma: A big victory following the launch of a LabourStart online campaign, part of a much broader international effort, in support of the demand that British American Tobacco end its involvement with the Burmese dictatorship.

March 2004 South Korea: Our campaign in support of 6 imprisoned construction union leaders had contributed to their release from jail. One of the officials, who had lost both legs and an arm in an industrial accident, was denied bail -- ostensibly because of the authorities' fear that he would "flee prosecution."

May 2004 Colombia: LabourStart campaigned in support of striking oil workers who were battling against privatization. Some 1,400 messages were sent, and within five days the strike was over, the union having won.

May 2004 Colombia: An appeal made by the IUF – and publicized by LabourStart – contributed to another big victory, this time for striking banana workers. As we noted at the time, “This is especially important as Colombia is the most dangerous place on earth to be a trade unionist. More trade unionists are killed every year in Colombia than anywhere else.”

July 2004 New Zealand: LabourStart appealed to its readers to come to the defense of Andrew Bolesworth, a delegate (shop steward) for the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU). Bolesworth had been sacked by his employer – a casino in Dunedin -- for his union activity. Some 1,200 messages were sent and in only a few days, Bolesworth had his job back. The union wrote, “Thank you to everyone who sent emails, wrote letters of support, signed the petitions, turned up at the pickets -- the members at Dunedin are really energised about unionism after a brief introduction and a big win.”

September 2004 Cambodia: Following the sending of some 3,000 messages through an online campaign, workers at the Raffles Hotel chain had won a big victory. This campaign – again, spearheaded by the IUF – was further evidence of the particular vulnerability of certain sectors, such as hotels, to online campaigning. February 2005 South Africa: A huge online campaign in support of Telkom workers came to an end as the local union announced victory. According to the union, “Our campaign against the planned Telkom retrenchments was one of the largest labour campaigns ever organised in South Africa. The campaign even caused an international stir and more than 3,000 people in 42 countries wrote to Telkom to express their dismay at the planned retrenchments.”

July 2005 Pakistan: LabourStart reported on a victory by hotel workers in Quetta. According to the IUF, “over 750 people from around the world responded ... Coupled with your messages of concern to the management and owners of the Quetta Serena Hotel, the local union was able to campaign effectively and successfully in reinstating their union president, Brother Haji Gul Hassan, and two other union activists. The union asked the IUF to convey their heartfelt thanks to all those who sent messages of support. The union also stated that the email messages made a visible difference to the campaign, with the management and owners clearly affected by the international response.”

November 2005 Canada: A bitter strike at the country's largest meat-packing plant (Tysons, in Alberta) ended following a big online campaign launched by the IUF and publicized on LabourStart. After 22 days on the picket line, the company met union demands and the strike ended.

December 2005 Haiti: An end to the long-running, bitter dispute in the Codevi Free Trade Zone, which had been the focus of not one, but several online campaigns. The union (Batay Ouvriye) announced that a final agreement was signed between management and the union ending the dispute. The base salary more than doubled, and salaries will rise by an agreed 45% over three years. Union recognition was agreed, work conditions were improved, health and safety, maternity leave and sexual harassment issues resolved.

December 2005 Philippines: The year-old strike at Hacienda Luisita -- scene of a massacre of strikers earlier in 2005 and a very big online campaign -- ended. According to one of the two unions on strike (ULWU), the dispute was ended based on its seven-point proposal, including the payment of wages and benefits due to all workers, permanent or casual, the rehiring of 52 sacked workers, and retirement packages for 15 terminated permanent workers.

December 2005 Canada: Following a 51-day strike (and an online campaign launched by LabourStart) cleaning employees employed at British Columbia hospitals forced their employer, Sodexho, to sign a first contract with their union, the HEU. The deal included a 25% pay hike for the workers.

January 2006 Argentina: Workers at the worker-owned Bauen Hotel secure a reprieve from threats of a hostile takeover in part due to a LabourStart online campaign.

February 2006 Nepal: LabourStart's online campaign helps force the King to release jailed trade union leaders.

March 2006 Ireland: Following a big online campaign on LabourStart, Dunnes Stores is compelled to re-hire Joanne Delaney, sacked for wearing a union pin. The LabourStart campaign triggers debates in the British, Irish and Scottish parliaments, and in the Dublin city council, and attracts considerable media coverage.

March 2006 Costa Rica: Following a LabourStart online campaign, banana workers finally win recognition. Sacked trade unionists are re-hired and the union given unimpeded access to the workplace.

May 2006 USA: After a campaign on LabourStart that sent more than 5,000 protest messages in only a few days, the University of Miami grants 450 janitors the right to form a union and raise their standard of living.

June 2006 Thailand: Following an online campaign on LabourStart global P.R. Giant Publicis withdraws its threatened lawsuit against the Thai Labour Campaign.

June 2006 Canada: Following a LabourStart campaign, global mining giant BHP Billiton caved in and recognized for the first time ever the union of diamond miners in the country's far north.

July 2006 Costa Rica: Following a short online campaign (run on LabourStart), unions in the country report that anti-union attacks from the far-right have stopped, morale of the workers has been raised, and the government's campaign to promote a free trade agreement with the USA has been stopped.

July 2006 Indonesia: Following three online campaigns, and an occupation of the company offices, employees of Group 4 Securicor in Jakarta win a big victory, getting their back pay, their jobs back and union recognition.

September 2006 Indonesia: Hotel workers win compensation from the Starwood hotel chain following a disastrous earthquake – after a one-week long online campaign run by the IUF with support from LabourStart.

September 2006 New Zealand: The month-old dispute at Progressive Supermarkets (owned by Woolworths Australia) ends in a union victory following online campaigns run by the NDU and promoted by LabourStart.

September 2006 South Africa: A four-month old dispute at Kraft ends with the union achieving all its main demands, following a big online campaign run by the IUF and promoted by LabourStart.

December 2006 Iran: Following a very large international campaign that brought together the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Transport Workers Federation, Amnesty International, the European Union, and thousands of individual trade unionists who participated in the online campaign on LabourStart, jailed Iranian trade union leader Mansour Osanloo is now free after a month in jail.
Full details are here:


Eric Lee from LabourStart writes:

'Do online campaigns work?

I get asked this question all the time. And I have to answer in two ways: First, online campaigns are no substitute for traditional trade union campaigns. Strikes, picket lines, occupations, boycotts and buy-union campaigns are still highly effective. But online campaigns add one more powerful weapon to labour's arsenal.

Second, hell yes they work!

Here's the proof':


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