COMING SOON TO A COMPUTER NEAR YOU...
THE WORLD'S FIRST VIRTUAL STRIKE:
Second Life, the bizarre online world where you can live again in whatever form you may choose, has expanded by leaps and bounds in the past few years. According to the website it now has 9,143,091 "residents", more than many countries. (Molly found only 1,598,598 logged in in the last 60 days when she visited her ghostly presence on the site, and only 40,755 on line at the time of the visit. Perhaps the company is playing with totals that obviously include many who have visited and found the vicarious experience wanting- never to return) Second Life supports an actual economy which is convertible into US dollars in the real world. The company claims that millions of US dollars (expressed as 'Linden Dollars' in the simulation) pass through its marketplace every month. There are several online exchanges in the world where US money and Linden money can be converted each to each.
Whatever this may seem like to the taxman many companies have seen Second Life as a wonderful marketing opportunity and have established online presences there. One of these is IBM, and sometime this September the Italian employees of IBM , represented by the Rappresentanza Sindicale Unitaria IBM Vimercate (RSU) are planning a "virtual strike" at the IBM presence on Second Life. The union representing about 9,000 IBM employees in Italy is keeping the exact details of the strike under wraps for now, except for the fact that they have extended an invitation for Second Life avatars from around the world to join them on the "virtual picket line". The mind boggles at what sort of representations will show up.
While the profits of IBM have soared the company has been most reluctant to share any of its windfall with its employees. When its Italian workers asked for a small salary increase in the latest round of negotiations IBM responded with an "offer" that would have meant a drop of about 1,000 euros per year per worker. The Italian workers are hoping that their actions will gain publicity for a world wide effort to build a multi-union coalition of IBM employees from over 16 countries.
To read more about this strike see the article in 'The Register' at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/ibm_italy_strike/print.html
The matter has also been discussed over at the LibCom site under their news section.
Molly is more than slightly leery (more,more,more,more) of the whole idea behind the ersatz life being sold by Second Life. Still, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.