The Cyberunions Podcast: Episode Eighteen – The Long and Unconventional History of Industrial Action

The Long and Unconventional History of Industrial Action

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0:39 Walton’s impressed with the site stats

  • Thanks for your visits! We’re set to run out of bandwidth again
  • Some interesting subreddits have been directing traffic to cyberunions
  • Check out r/HackBloc, r/AnarchistNews and r/Cyberunions
  • Our audience is split – one third use FOSS and seem very tech savvy
  • One third use Windows and Internet Explorer
  • Let’s bring them together and build a community of practice

03:10 Stephen geeks out over Minecraft

  • Minetest is a GPL version
  • Linux install #fail on some old hardware
  • David Rovics was at the Free Hetherington in Glasgow
  • David shares his experience of the student occupation with a Boston audience
07:45 Walton reads Little Brother on his phone
  • Cory Doctorow’s book deals with online security and the surveillance state
  • The book explains Tor well – we’ve covered it in a previous show
  • ParanoidLinux is a great idea – why not check out Tails
  • Debian + Tor = information security
14:19 The UK faces its biggest strike since 1926
  • 3 million people may strike on 30 November
  • They’re striking over pensions – why?
  • Under UK labour law you need to have a trade dispute with your employer
  • UK labour law doesn’t comply with ILO Conventions
  • In South Africa and many other countries, political and solidarity strikes are legal
  • Industrial action in the UK is legalistic and bureaucratised. This is a deliberate attempt to hamstring unions
  • If unions strike illegally they become liable for the costs of industrial action
  • There is no legal way for unions to mount proper political resistance – workers need to use civil disobedience and wildcats
19:00 Some US unions use minority unionism to get around limitations
  • Instead of winning recognition and being held liable, members act in solidarity outside on contracts
  • United Electrical Workers in North Carolina use Minority Unionism
  • NC is a Right to Work State
23:30 The pub quiz strike trivia question
  • When was the first recorded strike?
  • At the village of Set Maat near Thebes (now Luxor) in ancient Egypt, under Ramses III in 1152 BC
  • Walton is inspired to recite a poem by Bertolt Brecht
27:00 Tech update
  • Free Software Foundation’s Software Friday
  • Miro is a great FOSS tool for building a web channel
  • Do we need a IRC channel?
  • Email Stephen or Walton with your idea
  • Or leave an audio comment on Soundcloud
  • Unions need to use the appropriate technology – maybe we need IRC to recruit programmers
33:00 Some labo(u)r news podcasts that are worth a listen
Posted in Podcast and tagged , , , , .

Marxist. Socialist & labor movement organizer. Boston DSA Labor he/him
Bread & Roses Caucus in #DSA


  1. Most
    of the ‘traditional’ union activist I talk to consider social media
    or online networks too risk to use for action or organising. An IRC
    Channel, Tor or other tools you have been mentioning can solve that
    problem fundamentally, it seems. 

    would be great to take initiative and launch an IRC channel and bring
    union Organizers, for instance, together with hactivists online to
    exchange freely on their experiences! 

    anonymous organisers and hackers might be new protagonists
    of self organised workplace networks that could be connected
    transnationally, and even might create new form of worker’s power
    that ‘comes from the net’.

    • Örsan,

      Thanks for you comments. I have the same understanding from union activists though many focus on facebook as their community it is dis-concerning since we’ve seen facebook remove accounts of active groups. IRC I think is a space that is good for quick discussions that demands immediate contact and can play a great role as you say in bringing hackivists and labor activists together. Though for organizing I’d also add as a great tool. We are in the process of securing server space to test out an install of and diaspora both to see how easy it is to install and get up and running but also to show as an example the power of FOSS social networks. Statusnet I feel has more potential for unions as there is an ability to setup an instance that is not posting to the public like twitter and facebook. Have you had a chance to use they just brought in the most recent 1.0 version of statusnet.

      I like your ideas and enthusiasm 🙂

  2. Canada and Australia are currently passing laws that would their governments to “impose invasive surveillance powers” without a warrant. This seems to be a worldwide trend. Though there are national campaigns against this legislation (, does anyone know if is there a trans-national coalition of civic groups condemning this Council of Europe Convention of Cybercrime treaty?Dangerous Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance and Secrecy Worldwidewww.eff.orgAs part of an emerging international trend to try to ‘civilize the Internet’, one of the world’s worst Internet law treaties–the highly controversial Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Cybercrime–is back on the agenda. Canada and Australia…

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