The New Media Council carried out a recruitment action at Yahoo!'s London headquarters yesterday (Tuesday). As part of our on-going campaign about Yahoo!'s involvement in the imprisonment of journalists and activists in China, we wanted to invite member of Yahoo! staff to join the union and our campaign for human rights.
John and I started out with 300 flyers entitled "Yet Another Hypocritical Online Organisation" in the well-known Yahoo! colours (purple and yellow) just after five o'clock. By seven, we had none left. 100 or so invitations to the social event on Thursday ran out far sooner.
We got a range of reactions, from people who agreed with our position and said that they had contacted their own management about it, to people who were more defensive. A couple of people asked us how we could do what we were doing and marched back in, presumably to ask security to remove us. However, while laws in this country are getting more restrictive, I don't think there's yet anything that prevents us standing on a public footpath and asking people if they'd like to take a flyer!
A number of people did engage with us, including a number of managers. They gave the corporate line that they had no option but to comply with Chinese law, to which we responded that they did have an option about doing business in a country that has a dreadful record on freedom of speech. We followed that up, though, with an explanation that we are willing to engage with the company and see how we might be able to work together to campaign for freedom of speech in China and elsewhere in the world. We pointed out that, as a trade union, the way we engage with companies is by recruiting their employees.
Now it's time sit back and let the emails (hopefully) flood in.