Overview In USi’s first quarter (May-July) substantial progress has been made in building our audience base and building a social media profile that attracts visitors to our Trade Union message. We are endeavouring to utilise every possible social medi …

Andrew

Overview

In USi’s first quarter (May-July) substantial progress has been made in building our audience base and building a social media profile that attracts visitors to our Trade Union message.

We are endeavouring to utilise every possible social media stream on a daily basis. This has resulted in some very encouraging figures particularly our website which is the hub of all our activities but also discovering new streams such as Snip.It. We have been able to in a very short space of time build a constituency of activists interested in what we have to say.

Supporters 

USi has been delighted so far to receive the support from amongst others Thompsons Solicitors, GMB, GFTU, Unite the Union, RMT and the BFAWU. We warmly receive the endorsement of these Unions but we have also gained support from Trade Unions across the world including the 1 million strong Brazilian metal workers (CNM/CUT).

The Athens Labour Centre (EKA) representing 140,000 workers. OLME (the Greek secondary school public teachers Union) representing 80,000 workers and we continue conversations with other Unions including Fisac/CGIL in Italy about how we gain endorsements from Trade Unions all over the world.

We have a reservoir of potentially millions of Trade Unionists through supportive Unions and our task is to nurture those relationships to put in place programmes of work and to generate activity.

Education

In response to approaches from Trade Unions and educational institutes USi is developing through the technology at our disposal to assist Trade Unions in facilitating educational courses online. This is a potentially very exciting development whereby part of a Union education course could be facilitated through USi in partnership with relevant Trade Union or Educational institute.

Part of this will expand the very successful web conferencing facility inbuilt within the website to invite education tutors and academics to host seminars or online discussions. It is clear that USi cannot do this in isolation but rather work in partnership to enhance and assist the excellent work that is already being done in the world of Trade Union education. We are fortuitous in that several members of the USi team are Trade Union learning reps and tutors.

USi Campaigns

USi has prioritised three flagship campaigns, those being Solidarity with Greece, Brick Kiln Workers in India and domestic workers. IN relation to Solidarity with Greece we have built a very strong relationship with Trade Unions in that country which is resulting in regular articles (in Greek and English), podcasts and web conferences featured on Youtube including Yanis Varoufakis and Costas Lapavitsas.

This has resulted in a significant proportion of our website hits being from Greece (i.e. 20.21%) demonstrating our international reach. Recently we have prominently featured the Hellenic Steelworks dispute where the work force were on a 9 month strike. This has also resulted in the dispute being given prominence in the UK and Ireland Trade Union circles and subsequently through Unions with an interest in that sector we understand that donations to the workforce are being actively considered.

In relation to our brick kiln project in India with Prayas we are about to embark on a very exciting initiative which seeks to unionise 7,000 workers in several states of India. This expands upon the work that Prayas has done with partners such as the ILO to unionise a workforce and to help facilitate access to social services for the workers’ families.

For £6,200 the unionisation project which involves training organisers will have a substantial impact in increasing the wage levels of the workers, release from bonded labour and legal representation. USi and our supportive organisations should feel very enthused about the potential and prospect of helping to build union power and to receive regular updates from the workers themselves via different forms of social media.

For example, only 2 weeks ago we held a web conference with the Union Branch Secretary, the Project Director and a worker who travelled 200km to share his story with us. We aim to provide regular updates through all our media streams with the workers in India and to put in place a lasting legacy of Union organising.

We also believe that it is absolutely essential to keep the issue of domestic workers high on the agenda as we know the UK Government is one of handful of Governments around the world not to ratify the ILO Convention 189. We have been discussing with domestic workers’ networks across the world how we can assist the excellent work that they do to maintain the profile of this extremely important issue and perhaps the most vulnerable group of workers.

We aim for this to involve articles, use of our web conferencing and podcasts with networks in order to help them maintain the momentum behind their fantastic campaign. We have also sought to highlight other important industrial campaigns and feature them prominently on our homepage such as the Hyatts Hurts, Palermo’s Pizzas and the Reinstate the 305 Campaign.

USi believes that part of our service is to aid, amplify and support workers struggles. This is a central tenet of our modus vivendi. This has also resulted in our audience base growing in North America to around a fifth of all our website hits. For it to be the second behind the UK in the origin of location of visitors viewing our Youtube channel and to represent 65% of all our views on our Snip.it stream with the impending US elections in November we seek to consolidate our growing base in North America.

Common Front

Following on from the previous section, it is vital that not only do we build alliances with Trade Unions across the world but like minded organisations. It has often been argued that Trade Unions, and NGOs operate on parallel lines. USi hopes that we can be not only a platform for Trade Unions but also to work with progressive academia and organisations such as War on Want and Banana Link.

From our perspective the origins of a campaign is not important, what is important is the message of that campaign and it is important that we support the work of like minded organisations who are doing excellent work to campaign for social justice.

For example we have featured regularly on all of our streams the campaigns of Solidarity Groups whether it has been an article featuring their YouTube campaign video on our homepage or generally promoting it on Twitter and Facebook. It is in this spirit of cooperation and developing a more stronger common front which USi seeks to build deeper relationships with our partners in the NGO and solidarity group community.

Concluding Remarks

In a very short space of time USi has sought to develop and provide a service which Trade Unionists in the UK and Ireland – and beyond can have confidence in, be supportive of and encourage their members to become active in our streams. In our first quarter we have built a constituency of people interested in our aims and objectives amounting to tens of thousands of people.

Our priority is to consolidate this interest and to broaden it out to other Trade Unions and like minded organisations. In doing so we seek to collaborate with the aforementioned to gain a greater understanding of their international campaigns and to facilitate where we can through the technology we have, their campaign messages to reach a wider audience.


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