SLunionisland » Project news Union Island: International unions in Second Life Mon, 25 Jan 2010 16:04:53 +0000 en hourly 1 So long and thanks for all the solidarity Mon, 25 Jan 2010 16:04:53 +0000 Unionisland Republic Some not so great news today I’m afraid. Union Island is vanishing from the SL map.

We’ve had it running for 2 years now and learned a lot from the many excellent people we’ve met inside SL, and the good work many have been doing here. But the coalition style project for Union Island never really came off properly – all the organisations involved were too busy and short of resources to devote enough time to sharing the running of events, or just being in to chat to visitors, and so we’ve taken the decision that it’s better to close down the island than to have an inactive space, which may raise people’s expectations and disappoint.

You’ll still be able to find the union organisations involved on the web:,,,,

There are loads of places to go for continued action in SL, as most of you will probably know: SLLU, Imagine Network, SLDM, Commonwealth Islands, Nonprofit Commons and more. Check them out and give them your support if you can.

Thanks go to all the residents who’ve helped us with the island over these 2 years – a list too long to detail, but without whom, the island would have been less fun, less interactive, less noisy and less beautiful. We’ve had a very interesting time, and many of the people involved are still about as Avies to chat if you want us. Try getting hold of Uniglobalunion Oh, Wotcher Tenk, Johninnit Ni, or Unionisland Republic.

Best wishes and solidarity, virtual-world and real-world.

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Get introduced to Union Island Wed, 08 Oct 2008 08:34:52 +0000 Unionisland Republic We’re starting a series of introduction sessions on Union Island, to help show people what the project is and explain why we’re doing it, and what you can do on the island. The first sessions will be in English, running on the second Wednesday of every month at 1pm GMT (5am SLT), but we hope to be able to broaden this out soon into French, Italian and maybe Spanish if there is demand. Let us know what you think! First session today – feel free to drop in any time between 1pm and 2pm GMT to catch Island admins in their natural habitat.

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Press release: Tie the G8 to a virtual promise Tue, 03 Jun 2008 13:25:33 +0000 Johninnit Ni Unions and campaign organisations under the banner of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty are using the campaign power of the web and virtual world Second Life™ to call on the leaders of the G8 to meet their promises to fight poverty and inequality.

Every year on 7 July, the people of Japan celebrate the custom of Tanabata by making wishes for the coming year, and tying them to a bamboo tree. This July, leaders of eight of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations – the G8 – will be meeting in Hokkaido, Japan.

To coincide with the G8, people across the globe are being invited to make a virtual Tanabata wish for immediate action on workers rights, education, health and HIV/AIDS, climate change and international aid. The wishes will be displayed online and presented to the Japanese Prime Minister before the G8 meetings begin.

Situated on Union Island (, the Second Life home for trade unionists, is a giant virtual Tanabata tree, which shows the numbers of people making different wishes for the G8, as well as a list of the most recent to have added their names to the campaign. Users can also take an interactive Tanabata tree for their own space in Second Life, helping to spread the word amongst the virtual world’s 13 million users.

Campaigners will also be hosting events under the giant tree in the run up to the G8 summit, to discuss the issues behind the campaign.

TUC Head of International Relations, Owen Tudor, said: “Union Island is, like the unions who created it, a global phenomenon. With visitors from California to Mongolia, and from Norway to South Africa, it now offers the chance to take virtual action that results in real change. Trade unions share a common desire with development activists to see global action against poverty, and bringing this campaign into Second Life can send a new sort of message to world leaders.”


  • Find out how to visit the virtual island, and more background information on the project and Second Life at
  • The interactive Tanabata tree in Second Life was XML enabled by David Boelke of Second Life development company QA Computing.
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May Day report Tue, 06 May 2008 13:34:59 +0000 Johninnit Ni in reception

A bit late sorry, but here’s my report on our May Day celebrations in Second Life last week. Please do comment and let us know how it was for you too!

All in all it was a great day, and pretty busy! Our counter prim recorded over 150 avatars calling by the island, with many making several visits to different sessions, but what I think was even better was the range of countries that people came from. Amongst those I met were RL natives of Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mongolia, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and USA, and there must have been unionists even more countries present that I didn’t talk to – leave us a comment if I missed you out! ;)

The international flavour of the event made things really inspiring, as people who could never normally meet each other face to face, and there was no shortage of topics people wanted to discuss. One such discussion in the bar resulted in the decision to agree a statement from everyone attending about the situation for our colleagues in Zimbabwe.

zimbabwe discussion

This practical solidarity action was quickly co-ordinated with colleagues from South African and France, and put to a vote using SL’s proposal tools. Thanks to everyone for their help, support and comments on this – it’s clear this really resonated with people there on the day, and you can read the final statement agreed here.


In fact the bar, ably tended by New Unionism Network’s Wotcher Tenk, was a bit of a haunt for the whole event, though we did get the usual “party in the kitchen” too, down in reception, where the couches must be just too comfortable for some people to make it up the hill ;)

Erdenesaikhan Eel

It was also great to meet our colleagues from Mongolia, as so few of us ever have contact with this country, and it was great to hear about how unions are helping workers there to get networked and reach out around the country and beyond.

Other sessions involved introductions to Union Island for French and Italian speaking users. Around a third of residents attending were under 3 months old – with more than a few freshly rezzed – so introductory sessions like this, and a crash course (rather literally, given the debris covering the sandbox at the end) in SL building went down pretty well. No doubt we’ll be running this kind of thing again as more people join the community.

drupal session

We also tried more specialist surgeries with Prometheus Hawker on building union web sites with the open source system Drupal, and with Hus Bing, Carlo Bernini and Engels Kas of the TUC Organising Team. We need to really grow the community I think before these become truly successful I think, but I was surprised by the number of people who came especially for Prometheus’ session, and seemed very excited about what they’d learned.

I sadly missed Forelle Broek’s session, presented with Second Life Left Unity, on the history and meaning of May Day, and only managed to log in as it was ending. There were a good number of people there though, and a very positive mood still in evidence. I managed to read Forelle’s presentation later, which has been published on the SLLU site. Go read it if you don’t know how May Day started. Actually go read it anyway – it’s a very good lesson!


And ending things off was a great DJ set from Fracture DJ Beta Bates, who played two hours, with an eclectic set that nevertheless held together really well, and had something to get everyone wooing and yaying throughout. In their best glad-rags and wings or sporting union tees, people were pulling dance moves that many of us never knew we had in us ;)

So I reckon all in all we had a great start to the project, and it’s made me very excited to see what we might be able to do with this next. Running the different sessions has given us some good pointers as to the type of events that people might want more of, as well as practical help with areas of Island management to make future events run more smoothly, like timezones and signposting.

Hope to see you all back on the Island soon!

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Press release: Virtual May Day Tue, 22 Apr 2008 16:57:53 +0000 Unionisland Republic 22 April 08 – For immediate release

1 May 2008 sees the launch of Union Island, an innovative new trade union project to build a home for unions and activists in the virtual world Second Life™.

Union Island will open with a virtual May Day, a day of training, networking and celebration, to bring activists from the global union movement together in a way never before possible.

Events planned for the day include:

  • Celebrating May Day with a dance party, hosted by a live DJ from Second Life’s club Fracture.
  • Training for activists in how to get more out of Second Life through networking with others and designing their own 3D creations, and how to run better websites for their unions.
  • A photo and video exhibition for the DGB’s Mindestlohn campaign for a national minimum wage in Germany. May Day sees the culmination of a exhibition tour of Germany, and German unionists will be on hand at a Second Life replica of the real life touring set, to discuss the tour and campaign online with supporters from around Germany.
  • Themed surgeries for union organisers in Union Island’s virtual bar, swapping practical tips from around the world over a pint of virtual beer from the UK Workers’ Beer Company.
  • Guided gallery tours of “5 Photographers”, a virtual art exhibition of 20th century New York photography, presented by American arts group Labour Arts Inc.

Union Island plans to use Second Life to create a community for unionists, which will let activists from around the world meet and work together on shared issues in the global economy. The project also aims to use the virtual world to present union campaigns to a new audience, and enable a new generation of online activists to have more input into union activities.

TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ”Trade unions are all about people working together to improve things for themselves and others, and internet networks offer a powerful and cost-effective way for us to forge new links. As more businesses embrace virtual worlds such as Second Life to foster international networking and collaboration, it will be natural to find unions there too.”

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said: “UNI Global Union’s member unions around the world are constantly innovating, to show their relevance to today’s members and tomorrow’s potential members.”


  • Second Life is an interactive 3D environment used by millions of people around the world (as well as thousands of companies and organisations) to chat, network, create, conduct business or play games.
  • Union Island is a joint project of the TUC, UNI Global Union and the New Unionism Network, supported by unions from the UK, Germany and Italy.
  • You can find a full programme of events for virtual May Day, as well as more information on the project and a direct link to Union Island at
  • Contact for further information: instant message to Unionisland Republic (Union Island spokesperson in Second Life)
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The how, where, when and why of Union Island Tue, 22 Apr 2008 10:05:08 +0000 Uniglobalunion Oh UNI Global Union have produced a handy pdf leaflet to explain the Union Island project, and how to use the Second Life™ virtual world to access it, in the run up to launch on 1 May. It’s a good outline if you’re new to Second Life, and you can download a copy here.

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New art on Union Island Wed, 02 Apr 2008 10:37:22 +0000 Unionisland Republic

Our Union Island library building is nearly finished now, with information on the past, present and future of unions internationally. The latest and greatest thing there now though is a new work by Second Life artist Aiyas Aya, curator of the fantastic Node Zero gallery. The piece, called Digital Shard, really sets off the building’s light and airy by Matthaios Aquacade (of Citrus Virtual). Here’s a pic of Aiyas installing the piece for us himself – go check it out when you get a moment, and have a look at Aiyas’ work and that of 5 other great SL artists at Node Zero.

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New project partners: RSU IBM Vimercate Tue, 11 Mar 2008 16:15:41 +0000 Unionisland Republic Barillo Kohnke

We’re happy to announce another partner organisation have joined the Union Island project. Rappresentanza Sindacale Unitaria IBM Vimercate (or RSU IBM Vimercate to their friends) represent workers at IBM in Italy, and if that sounds familiar, it’s because they are something of Second Life union pioneers, having co-ordinated a very successful in-world protest in September 2007, as part of a campaign to resume suspended negotiations over a pay cut for IBM Italy staff.

Avatar Barillo Kohnke (pictured above) will be blogging for RSU IBM Vimercate on, so watch out for him here. IBM are working at the cutting edge of the use of virtual worlds in business, so getting the perspectives of the RSU colleagues will be really exciting. Ciao Barillo!

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Come Xplore the IBM protest museum Wed, 05 Mar 2008 16:58:52 +0000 Uniglobalunion Oh IBM protest museum

New on Union Island is a special skybox museum telling the story of last year’s IBM protest. The event was a great success, attracting around 1,850 avatar protestors onto IBM’s SL campus, and it was crucial in securing a good deal for IBM Italy staff who had been hit by a pay cut and refusal by management to negotiate. Take a quick trip (you can teleport in from the IBM monument in the north west of Union Island), and find out what happened, and what went on behind the scenes to organise this extraordinary event.

Proud centrepiece of the museum is this friendly robot – a Second Life recreation of the trophy awarded to the protest project team at the recent Forum Netxplorateur, a high level conference on the social and business impacts of the new internet in Paris. The protest was chosen as one of the 10 top Netxplorateurs of the year – projects that had shown exceptional innovation and promise for societal change. You can see the full list of 2008’s 100 Netxplorateurs at their site.

UPDATE:  And you can find out more about our robot friend and his origins here. His RL alter-ego is made by noted artist Hervé Di Rosa out of cast bronze, and weighs quite a bit!

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User Group report Wed, 05 Mar 2008 10:37:41 +0000 Unionisland Republic User Group second session

Many thanks to everyone who came along to our first ever User Group meetings. 13 avatars came by to discuss the project and how we should develop it (here are snaps of most of them), and we got some really great ideas on things like better engagement with German speakers, viral freebies to raise awareness of the project, working with labor/business departments of universities in SL, and low-key codes of conduct to help us deal more consistently with people who flaunt them. Speaking of which, we even had our first spot of minor griefing, which is another milestone of sorts! ;)

We staggered it to let people from different time zones chip in, though I think one important lesson was that the times weren’t very good for most Americans, and we need a better outpost in a time zone that overlaps with US leisure time. Anyway, a promising and enthusiastic start and we hope we can build on that for future User Group meetings as our group is growing by the day (search in SL under the groups tag if you’d like to join).

User Group first session

Here’s Annette’s take on it from her blog, ASM.

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