Monday, February 11, 2008

First Trade Union Protest on Second Life

I couldn’t make the Newham UNISON rally tonight with Guest speaker, Tony Benn, in support of their sacked branch Chair, Michael Gavan, (I’m laid up and off work with a dodgy Achilles heal). However, I was able to visit the brand new on-line “Union Island” on “Second Life” to listen to an on-line debate on “union busters”.

I had registered for a Second Life account yesterday, but I couldn’t work out how to enter the site. Tonight, I just followed the links from the SLUnions blog; it took me about 15 minutes to work out how to travel inside the site. It was actually quite logical and straight forward, since they had 4 short compulsory training modules. Then I was teleported to” Union Island” (just like in Star Track!).

The Union Island site is very much “under construction”; however you can navigate it quite clearly. Once you get over the overall “weirdness” of Second Life, it’s not that strange and you can see potential positive benefits. While many users did have rather exotic “Second Life” names and choose to be rather imaginative with their profile and dress. On the other hand, you can see how “Second Life” could be (not definitely at this early state) an effective means for trade unionists to be able to communicate across the world.

The conversion tonight on “union busting” (companies who employ consultants to defeat union recognition ballots) and the sharing of experiences between the US AFL-CIO and the CWU was interesting in itself. However, you could also see how union reps who work for multi-national companies could arrange to meet up to discuss common concerns. Also, in the pension capital stewardship field. “Union Island” could be an invaluable resource to enable international union pension fund trustees to meet up very cheaply and work together.

Its early days yet and we should wait and see before being too carried away about the organisational potential of "2nd Life". However, I am really pleased that the trade unions are dipping their toes into the water and being imaginative about the future direction of our movement.

Finally, although tonight, I was unable to attend the Newham rally, I was able to hold a “Second Life” union protest about Michael Gavan’s dismissal (see above). Maybe the first ever? Must see if I can also organise a lobby over any Burmese Military collaborators Total presence in “Second Life”?


John said...

Hi John. It was good to 'meet' you there. Hope you're up and about again soon in First Life!

John Gray said...

Hi John
Yes, it was a good experience however, you guys are going to have to improve the beer served in the 2nd Life Union Bar – I couldn’t taste anything!

Anonymous said...

Howdy! Hopefully by now you've heard of last fall's massive Second Life protest led by Italian IBM employees. ( They were complaining about unfair wage practices; a month later the CEO of IBM Italy resigned. The action garnered a lot of attention, and was I believe one of the things that inspired the creation Union Island (I read elsewhere that they are planning a museum on the island to commemorate the protest).

They are still active at

John Gray said...

Hi Bola
I believe I did hear about it. You have reminded me that I must check into Union Island and find out what's happening.