SLunionisland » snapshots Union Island: International unions in Second Life Mon, 25 Jan 2010 16:04:53 +0000 en hourly 1 LabourStart Labour Photo of the Year 2008 Fri, 10 Oct 2008 14:48:26 +0000 Johninnit Ni LabourStart photos

The first ever LabourStart Labour Photo of the Year contest is open for voting. The judging panel have whittled down the many entries into just 5 contenders. Come check out the finalists in Reception on Union Island, where you can cast a vote for your favourite.

The winner and a selection of other entries will be coming back to Union Island later this year, as part of a larger photo exhibition in our Gallery, so keep an eye out for that – there were some fantastic entries this year, that really deserve a wider showing.

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WDDW on Union Island – UNI Global Union Wed, 08 Oct 2008 08:16:40 +0000 Johninnit Ni WDDW

Some pics just back from the developer :) of the UNI mobilisation for World Day for Decent Work.

UNI spokesavatar Uniglobalunion Oh led a group of activists from all over the world (I counted France, Mongolia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, USA, Canada & UK) on a little tour of SL, stopping off at Reuters Island, Nova Albion Infohub, and Aloft Non-Profit Commons, to spread the word about WDDW. It was great fun to tag along with them, and a good way to mark the day.

Getting ready to tp from Union Island:


Getting a news-fix on Reuters Island:



Hanging out at Nova Albion:



Back on Union Island for a well deserved drink:





It had all been a bit too much for some avies: ;)


You can find more pics and videos of what UNI staff get up to when they think nobody’s filming on UNI Global Union’s site.

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WDDW on Union Island – War On Want Tue, 07 Oct 2008 15:05:34 +0000 Johninnit Ni Dave Tucker

Transcript of a discussion on unions and NGOs campaigning for Decent Work as a route out of poverty, Dave Tucker (DaveWoW Muggins), Campaigner for War On Want.

[5:10]  johninnit Ni: Welcome to Dave Tucker from War On Want
[5:10]  Wotcher Tenk: Hi Dave
[5:10]  Vaughan Vantelli: hi Dave
[5:10]  johninnit Ni: the anti-poverty campaign NGO
[5:10]  DaveWoW Muggins: hi everyone
[5:11]  Erdenesaikhan Eel: Hi bro Dave
[5:11]  johninnit Ni: again a first time SL user
[5:11]  DaveWoW Muggins: i’m here for half hour to answer anything you like to ask…
[5:11]  IM: UNIglobalunion Oh: ok cool thank!
[5:12]  johninnit Ni: so if I can kick off!
[5:12]  johninnit Ni: today is a day for unions linking up on Decent Work issues, but also for reaching out
[5:12]  johninnit Ni: to the other organisations that are working on issues of Decent Work
[5:12]  Wotcher Tenk: Tell me, how does WoW see its link with WDDW ?
[5:13]  johninnit Ni: d’oh – Wotcher beat me to the question! I should be more direct…
[5:13]  Wotcher Tenk: ;)
[5:13]  DaveWoW Muggins: well we come out of the union movement anyway, so one of our main concerns is working conditions and workers rights. we’re one of the few NGOs in the UK to work directly with unions I think, so this is an important agenda for us. especially as it goes beyond core standards and into a more holistic way of looking at the role of work, which is key if we want to tackle poverty.
[5:15]  DaveWoW Muggins: but you’d be amazed how little this seems to be linked up in official thinking
[5:15]  johninnit Ni: War On Want are traditionally not one of the quieter NGOs
[5:15]  DaveWoW Muggins: yep!
[5:15]  johninnit Ni: you’re pretty forthright in your campaigns. I was interested to see your China campaign on your site, aiming to work with workers in China – which is an interesting situation for organised labour
[5:16]  Wotcher Tenk: Will you be pressing the ILO to measure decent work, relative to your own poverty indices? You could be a great help in giving the campaign some objectivity.
[5:17]  DaveWoW Muggins: well I’d have to say that our main focus is actually on the EU and specifically the elections next year.
[5:17]  DaveWoW Muggins: we’re trying to overturn the global europe trade strategy because we think that fundamentally it mitigates against decent work, especially work creation as well as standards
[5:18]  johninnit Ni: in what ways?
[5:18]  DaveWoW Muggins: well possibly this is a point of divergence with unions in Europe
[5:19]  DaveWoW Muggins: because we feel that – and have some research coming out in a month – free trade is destroying job in absolute terms

Dave Tucker

[5:19]  Vaughan Vantelli: has WoW ever taken its message into the classroom to promote campaigns eg sweatshops?
[5:19]  DaveWoW Muggins: as well as privileging companies in terms of where they can move their operations around etc
[5:20]  DaveWoW Muggins: which means that organising is more difficult, especially when there are pools of cheap ;’flexible’ labour
[5:20]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes we do go into classrooms. in fact we are developing a resource pack right now. it has been a bit ad hoc up to now as we have only one outreach person who deals with unis and online (facebook etc) and festivals..
[5:21]  DaveWoW Muggins: hopefully it will be on our website in a couple of months, but we always have speakers available if that’s of interest – best thing to do is join our online community and then you get updates and can ask questions etc
[5:21]  Vaughan Vantelli: i’d be interested in that Dave… Uni Lecturer here…cheers for the advice
[5:21]  DaveWoW Muggins: excellent!
[5:22]  DaveWoW Muggins: did I answer the WDDW question?
[5:22]  Wotcher Tenk: Sure did. Thanks for that.
[5:22]  johninnit Ni: So where you mentioned friction with unions in Europe. how do you mean?
[5:23]  DaveWoW Muggins: the ETUC position is that ‘free trade’ agreements can create jobs and give advantage to EU workers, but that they must include social and environmental clauses to ensure decent work is created, not poor quality
[5:24]  Vaughan Vantelli: isn’t itthe old addage that some unions gain from these agreements and others lose? self interest inhibit ssolidarity
[5:24]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes but what’s intersting is that rights are being undermined in europe too
[5:24]  DaveWoW Muggins: look at the ECJ casaes in the last year
[5:25]  Vaughan Vantelli: for sure…eastern europe poses a big challenge to western EU
[5:25]  DaveWoW Muggins: the key is that actually the same neo-liberal agenda is working against workers in the interests of capital. so solidarity is essential
[5:25]  Vaughan Vantelli: agreed…short termism prevails too often though
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: its a challenge but surely we want all the workers to get fair treatment, not be played off against each other
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: if we see them as taking our jobs etc, then we fall into the trap set by business
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: rah!
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes agreed, but I think decent work is a useful concept in this debate
[5:26]  Vaughan Vantelli: definately but Full Time Officers dont always think that way…we need stronger membership aware of these issues and influencing bargaining agendas
[5:27]  DaveWoW Muggins: agreed. all campaiging starts with education and awareness raising
[5:27]  DaveWoW Muggins: the unions have enormous and progressive memkbership so if we can link up effectively we have a huge opportunity
[5:27]  You: how do you see NGOs like yourselves and unions working together? War On Want are a very fast moving organisation, whilst unions move more slowly (democratically, but slowly)
[5:27]  DaveWoW Muggins: especially in the current climate favourable to legislation
[5:28]  DaveWoW Muggins: partly its about getting actions around the union members. so we currently have a postcard and an online action on our website (in the next week)
[5:28]  DaveWoW Muggins: partly its about pressure on union-sponsored MPs and MEPs, and fundamentally making the case that people and rights matter, not just rights for companies to make profit

Dave Tucker

[5:29]  Vaughan Vantelli: draft motions are always useful for members to put to branch meetings
[5:29]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes I am working on that too, i know the deadlines are near
[5:29]  DaveWoW Muggins: if anyone wants to put something forward themselves, please do and let me know
[5:29]  DaveWoW Muggins: also branches can affiliate to War on Want
[5:30]  johninnit Ni: do many do that?
[5:30]  DaveWoW Muggins: I’d have to check but I think its certainly dozens
[5:31]  Vaughan Vantelli: I know a number of UNISON branches do and I think they are affiliated nationally
[5:31]  Vaughan Vantelli: my union the EIS is too
[5:31]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes. sorry not quite up on that, but you can ask our union officer Jackie Simpkins
[5:35]  johninnit Ni: we have a few mins left before Dave is off to RL events
[5:35]  johninnit Ni: are there any more questions people would like to throw in?
[5:36]  johninnit Ni: Dave – what do you think of the potential for WDDW itself?
[5:36]  johninnit Ni: is there value in continuing this idea of reaching out for unions? it’s raising a fair bit of awareness around the world
[5:37]  johninnit Ni: sometimes in strange ways! in Bulgaria they’re driving with their full beam headlights on to mark the day!
[5:37]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes definitely. if we have a global problem we need a global response
[5:37]  DaveWoW Muggins: that goes back to what we were saying about not allowing ‘divide and conquer’
[5:37]  johninnit Ni: so there is a natural link you feel between poverty campaigners and unions – because of the principle of solidarity
[5:38]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes. we are progressive forces I’d like to think
[5:38]  DaveWoW Muggins: and although we work in different ways, we are both fundamentally about dignity and rights
[5:38]  DaveWoW Muggins: that’s got to be worth something!
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: Thanks Dave
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: that’s a very good note to end on
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: :)
[5:39]  Vaughan Vantelli: cheers Dave….
[5:39]  DaveWoW Muggins: thanks everyone
[5:39]  Erdenesaikhan Eel: Thank you Dave
[5:39]  Wotcher Tenk: Tah
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: I hope this is somethign that can grow year on year, to make more of the global links to deal with the global problem.

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WDDW on Union Island – Dalit Solidarity Network Tue, 07 Oct 2008 14:38:58 +0000 Johninnit Ni Meena Varma

Transcript of a discussion on Decent Work for casteless people with Meena Varma (Meena Turbo), Director of the Dalit Solidarity Network.

[4:19]  johninnit Ni: So Meena, could you please tell us a little about Dalit Solidarity Network, and what Decent Work means to you?
[4:20]  Meena Turbo: decent work is all about the right to a living wage without exploitation, and the worst of these is being a shit shoveller
[4:22]  Meena Turbo: in India alone there are 170million so called untouchables they are outside any social and economic system and subject to systematic and systemic human rights abuses -
[4:23]  johninnit Ni: but it’s not just a problem in India?
[4:23]  Meena Turbo: there are 260 million dalits worldwide – esp south Asia but also in Japan parts of Africa and wherever the Asian people have gone to as well
[4:24]  johninnit Ni: so a worldwide phenomenon. And what kind of issues do these people face at work?
[4:25]  Meena Turbo: if they are lucky enough to get employment at all they are subject to humiliation and discrimination they are forced to do the jobs at the very bottom of the pecking order
[4:25]  johninnit Ni: and this is because of their birth – with nothing they can do about it
[4:26]  Meena Turbo: yes – their lives have been preordained by where they born in or mostly out of the cast system
[4:26]  johninnit Ni: and how does DSN work to help the situation?
[4:27]  Meena Turbo: we campaign and lobby the UK Government but also have to lobby in the EU and the UN. The hardest part of the job is to raise awareness amongst the general public who think of discrimination as merely race or gender thing rather than every aspect of a person’s life from the day they were born
4:28]  johninnit Ni: so how do you think the idea of core labour standards and Decent Work can help the campaign?
[4:29]  Meena Turbo: Our new campaign is to STOP Manual Scavenging – that is the cleaning up of human shit with just a thin board and then having to carry a basket of shit to the nearest dump on ones head. Core labour standards in India and much of South Asia are ignored.
[4:30]  Meena Turbo: Decent work is a human right and we need to ensure that all governments start to implement the standards that most of have signed up to

Meena Varma

[4:31]  johninnit Ni: thanks Meena. Would anyone else like to ask a question?
[4:32]  johninnit Ni: One other from me if I can please = What role do you think Unions might play to help casteless people – I guess none are in unions themselves?[4:32]  Vaughan Vantelli: hi Meena so are these people ‘employed’ or do they perform these duties to try to gain money?
[4:32]  Meena Turbo: Most Manual Scavengers will earn on average less than 7 pence (10 Euro cents) a day
[4:33]  johninnit Ni: but they don’t have the chance of finding better work because of their caste, so in a sense they are forced to work rather than free to take paid  jobs
[4:33]  Meena Turbo: Manual scavenging is forced labour because they do not have the chance of any other employment and this ‘career’ is passed down through the family and generations
[4:34]  Vaughan Vantelli: so presumably the role for unions would more likely to be in political campaigning then? does any of this happen at the moment?
[4:35]  Meena Turbo: There is no Union membership amongst the majority of Dalits and they desperatley need representation in order to higlight their working conditions and complete lack of labour rights
[4:36]  johninnit Ni: Are there organisations of Dalits themselves coming together that you have worked with, similar to unions?
[4:37]  Meena Turbo: There are several Dalit organizations esp in India who campaign for human and economic rights as well as to education etc, but in a country the size of India it is very hard t be truly representational
[4:37]  johninnit Ni: and I guess impossible for them to link internationally, which is where organisations like yours come in?
[4:38]  Meena Turbo: Excatly! And we have soildarity networks across europe – in 7 other countries

Meena Varma

[4:38]  johninnit Ni: How closely do the international organisations work with unions?
[4:38]  Vaughan Vantelli: what role for uk unions then and how do we as union members raise the profile of these issues?
[4:38]  Bruce Radek: What sort of campaigns dio they run?
[4:39]  Meena Turbo: We are working closely with UNITE and esp the Finance sector where there have been companies with huge investments in India
4:40]  Meena Turbo: AXA Unite has been lobbying its head office to close an office in India because they will ot acknowledge the exisrtence iof the caste system and refuse to meet with UNITES – an India Union
[4:41]  Vaughan Vantelli: what if anything is the Indian government doing?
[4:41]  Meena Turbo: UK unions have beeen raising the issue at local meetings and the DSN DVD I’m Dalit How are you avaialable on has been shown on several occasion as well as at last year’s TUC conference. Untouchablity is outlawed by the constitution but the India governemnt is yet tio enforce its 60 year old legislation.
[4:42] johninnit Ni: for clarification – untouchable is another phrase used to describe Dalit people
[4:43]  Meena Turbo: So Dalits are still unable to access the education, health and employment systems as their right
[4:43]  johninnit Ni: I’d heard about the situation in India, but was surprised to find it in so many other countries, including Japan, which has its own groups of casteless people
[4:44]  Meena Turbo: In Japan the Burakumin are discriminated against on the basis of their birth or caste and in parts of Africa there is still caste based slavery.
[4:44]   Meena Turbo: Official UN terminology for this is discrimination on the basis of ‘work and descent’ The Indian govt refused to ratify if ‘caste’ was the term used
[4:47]  Bruce Radek: I’m sure this is a naive question but what is the UN position on this? where are the resolutions and planned invasions for breaching them? no oil in India I take it??
[4:47]  Meena Turbo: UN Committee for the Elimination of racial Discrimnation includes this as ‘work and descent’. India was reviewed last year and refused to accept he accusation that discrimination existed and that it was an internal issue that they were dealing with
[4:49]  Meena Turbo: The UN and the EU are wary of dealing with India as they are seen as ‘respected memebrs of the Human Rights Council and of course there is money to be had!!
[4:49]  johninnit Ni: thanks Meena
[4:49]  Jean Flores: Are you trying to engage the huge Indian companies such as Tata?
[4:49]  johninnit Ni: we’re nearly out of time now
[4:49]  Jean Flores: ok sorry
[4:49]  johninnit Ni: but we could take another question
[4:50]  johninnit Ni: no – Jean go ahead!
[4:50]  Jean Flores: Yes I just thought that some of the worlds largest companies are Indian,  like Tata. And they commit themselves to CSR.
[4:50]  Jean Flores: they could do something?
[4:50]  Meena Turbo: Yes – we are trying to engage through the Confederation of Indian Industries and TAT is the biggest player there. Also we know of TATA links here in the UK now
[4:51]  Jean Flores: I have some contacts
[4:51]  Meena Turbo: Yes please
[4:51]  Jean Flores: so I can talk with them also
[4:51]  Meena Turbo: Double yes please
[4:51]  johninnit Ni: So thanks very much to Meena Varma – Director of Dalit Solidarity Network. You can find out more about DSN and their campaigns on their site at
[4:51]  johninnit Ni: Jean – I’ll get Meena’s email for you
[4:52]  Jean Flores: Thank you so much it was really interesting, and good work
[4:52]  Vaughan Vantelli: thanks Meena…very interesting. Good luck!
[4:52]  johninnit Ni: Meena is now off to Real Life events. so thanks very much for taking the time to visit
[4:52]  Wotcher Tenk: Cheers Meena
[4:52]  Meena Turbo: Thanks and bye till next time
[4:52]  johninnit Ni: and have a good (and very Decent) day
[4:52]  Bruce Radek: Bye
[4:52]  Erdenesaikhan Eel: Thanks Meena Varma

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August User Group meetup Tue, 05 Aug 2008 16:07:39 +0000 Johninnit Ni August User Group

Many thanks to everyone who came by today for the User Group meeting – especially those US colleagues who had to get up pretty early to catch the rest of us Europeans.

We had a very productive discussion, ranging around changes to new user orientation, and how we might better support our union noobs, how we could improve staffing rotas and even use greeter robots to help link real people together better, how we could find and train evangelists from union organisations to help in turn train more users. We also had a good discussion on expectations and potential of virtual worlds, and how we make the most of the new environment, rather than replicating offline habits that no longer make so much sense.

Some more discussion needed around this, but it’s given us some good practical steps that we’ll be working on in coming months, to improve the experience a lot for our users, so watch this space!

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What’s your wish for the G8? Tue, 03 Jun 2008 15:01:30 +0000 Johninnit Ni Tanabata tree in SL

Tanabata is an old Japanese custom practiced on 7 July each year. You think of your wishes for the coming year, and tie them to a bamboo, sharing them with everyone else. This year Tanabata time coincides with the G8 Summit in Japan, and Global Call for Action Against Poverty (the campaign formerly known as Make Poverty History) is inviting people to submit their wishes for the G8, to be formed into a petition to the Japanese Prime Minister, as the summit opens. You can now take part in Second Life™ too. We’ve put a Tanabata tree on Union Island, and just so you don’t miss it, we’ve made it a BIG one.

Add your name to the campaign action, and thanks to the wonders of XML (kindly programmed for us by QA Computing’s David Boelke), you’ll see your wish appear on the tree alongside everyone else’s.

If you’ve got a home space in SL, or your own sim, drop us a note and we’ll send you another little Tanabata of your own, which also updates with wishes. Let’s spread this campaign right around SL in time for the G8!

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Who’s been on Union Island? Wed, 14 May 2008 12:06:39 +0000 Johninnit Ni Terrance Dicks

A great evening last night thanks to science fiction author Terrance Dicks, who came by Union Island to launch his new book “Revenge of the Judoon”. It’s an original Doctor Who novel, in the union-backed Quick Reads series, aimed at helping more people in the UK to start to enjoy reading for pleasure.

Afterwards, Terrance played to a sold-out house at writers’ community Written Word, discussing his writing career and Doctor Who, and answering audience questions and giving a reading from the book. You can catch his appearance on SLCN TV here.

Terrance Dicks on SLCN

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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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Happy May Day Thu, 01 May 2008 23:17:25 +0000 Johninnit Ni May Day party

As May Day draws to a close on the GMT line in London, Union Island looks like a place that’s seen a party, with the stragglers heading off to bed, and debris to tidy up tomorrow. Many thanks to DJ Beta Bates, who gave us a great set for a great way to mark May Day 2008. Thanks too to all the people who came from more than a dozen countries – from the Western USA to Mongolia in the East and from South Africa to Norway – a very happy May Day to everyone.

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May Day morning Thu, 01 May 2008 13:11:35 +0000 Johninnit Ni MindestLohn

A great May Day morning in Second Life. We’ve had visitors from all over the world – from the West of the USA to the East of Mongolia, taking in Russia, South Africa, Belgium, Spain and many more. Sessions this morning included Platoon Dukes from ver.di, discussing their campaign for a German minimum wage, a pretty chaotic 101 building class, which left prim debris strewn across the sandbox, and holding it all together, our capable bar-keep Wotcher Tenk of New Unionism Network, on hand to dispense wit and wisdom, and help network people from behind the bar.

Bar Union

Lots more events this afternoon, so do come by and see what’s happening, with seminars, tours, discussions and parties up until 10pm GMT (2pm SLT) today.

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