Cyberunions – iconoclasm on the internet

Cyberunions is a project exploring the intersection between trade union organising and new technology. Rather than seeing technology as a set of tools, we see cyberspace as a space, where people work, organise politically, are entertained and educated, and engage in many fields of human endeavour.

For the most part, we believe, the labour movement has failed to understand the cultural implications of new technology: that the internet encourages iconoclasm, and new technology favours horizontal rather than hierarchical organising. The Creative Commons movement, Open Source software, the growth of online peer production and decentralised political movements mean that the world is changing fast, and that a new mode of production is being born in cyberspace.

By embracing the opportunities offered by a networked world, and building an open source labour movement, we can breath new life into our unions and reach out to a new generation of activists. The site contains both boring theoretical pieces (sorry), and more practical resources for activists.

Cyberunions was started by Walton Pantland, a trade union official based in Glasgow, Scotland, who works for Unite, the biggest union in the UK.

Walton is South African, and before coming to the UK worked with trade unions and community groups in South Africa. He wrote HIV-Aids manuals for COSATU and the ITF, and worked on projects for Workers’ World Media Productions and Ditsela.

Walton studied at Ruskin College, Oxford, and did an MA in International Labour and Trade Union Studies.

Walton’s dissertation topic was Cyberunionism, from the perspective of union renewal: to what extent can new technologies renew and revitalise unions, by reaching out to new groups of workers, challenging hierarchies and s particularly interested in the experience of grassroots activists experimenting widely, rather than slick and expensive campaigns designed by experts.

Stephen (aka MV) is a Labor Activist in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Stephen holds a Masters of Science degree in Labor Studies from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst Labor Center where he wrote his Thesis on capitalism’s influence of Higher Education from a critical labor union perspective. Other areas of focus and research extend to Comparative Socialism and International Labor movements, Critical Economics from a Marxist perspective and Critical Communications. He advocates for member driven labor unions and acts against top down union organizational structures.

Other contributors to cyberunions include Eduard Grebe.

More info

The Cyberunions Podcast
Subtitle: Building an Open Source labour movement