|Issue No 58||16 June 2000|
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In Defence of Rallies
The Cost of Activism
As the deadlock in Fiji escalates with today's detention of the union leader Felix Anthony the importance of internet communications across the international labour movement has again been highlighted.
On Our Own Terms
Workers Online readers would be familiar with the work of LHMU national media officer Andrew Casey during the crisis, with his regular, sometimes hourly updates of the situation on the ground.
Casey has been putting his reports together through a mixture off mobile phone calls, email messages, web-pages and faxes to key players in the Fijian labour movement.
At times the immediacy has been disarming - at one point he called Anthony on his mobile to discover he was about to walk into a meeting with the new dictator.
The flow-on effect of Andrew's stories on the LaborNet newsfeed throughout the crisis have been fascinating to observe.
Linked into Eric Lee's international Labourstart service, they have become the labour movement's primary source of news in and out of Fiji.
He's also become a flashpoint for employer anger - Australian textile companies running the line about how their poor workers are being stood down; ignoring the fact they went to Fiji to exploit the cheap labour in the first place.
And in countries where Fiji may not have the impact on mainstream news pages, LaborNet has become the sole source of Fiji news for many people - Andrew's been receiving follow-up emails from as far away as South Korea, South Africa, USA, Europe and Israel.
Add to this the fact that Casey has been getting better access to key players than many of the reporters on the ground in Suva and you have a telling testimony to the importance of the union movement controlling its own news domain.
Geography has become largely irrelevant - it's the relationship that matters.
These results serve to vindicate LaborNet's open model embodied in the Live News Feed, where we build the infrastructure, maximize the exposure but leave the content to activists rather than trying to control the flow.
If the Fiji crisis is anything to go by, we now have in our hands a valuable asset for the future.
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