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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Workers find voice on the net
Eric Lee
Radio station run out of Eric Lee's home in London
A leafy suburb of north London may seem an unlikely spot for an international radio station devoted to workers' rights.

But it is home to Radio LabourStart, which is using the internet to broadcast reports on the plight of workers around the world.

"This is really a new idea for the trade union movement," said Eric Lee, founder of net station which launched in February.

"The trade union movement is like a bunch of dinosaurs. It takes them a long time to adopt new technology," he told the BBC programme, Go Digital.

Mr Lee has been involved with the trade union movement since the 1970s. He set up Radio LabourStart to cover news stories about workers that are often ignored by the mainstream media.

Radio LabourStart is run on a shoe-string budget and broadcast on the net via Live365. According to Mr Lee, it has listeners in 38 countries.

For around 10 a month, Live365 hosts the music and audio streams and takes care of all the legal and financial commitments involved in dealing artists.

Alternative views

"You can listen to the kind of things you don't hear on conventional radio," said Mr Lee. The broadcasts are a mix of news and features from a US news service which covers labour news, as well as folk and protest songs.

Mr Lee believes his service can made a difference by highlighting what is happening to workers in a quick and cost-effective manner.

Abdullah Muhsin
Abdullah Muhsin: Used the radio to highlight plight of Iraqi workers
The station has helped Iraqis to highlight the obstacles they have faced in setting up a labour movement.

The station broadcast news about how US soldiers had raided the headquarters of the newly-formed Iraqi Trade Union Federation in December.

"Through the radio station, we initiated a campaign to persuade the occupation authority to explain why an independent trade union movement opposing terrorism was attacked," said Abdullah Muhsin, international representative of the Iraqi labour movement.

"Within an hour we received thousands upon thousands of letters of support. This could not have happened before."

The station has also leapt to the defence of workers in Haiti. Mr Lee said it had organised a campaign around the sacking of 34 textile workers for belonging to a union.

"This was not widely reported but we got the news out the same day," he said. "We had more than 2,000 e-mails sent to company in Haiti and to Levis who get textiles from there.

"And everyone got a response from Levis saying they were investigating what had happened and were very concerned."

The London-based service follows in the footsteps of labour activists in the US who have pioneered the use of the internet by trade unions.

A couple of years ago they set up the Workers Independent News Service to provide news and features about aspects of the labour movement.

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