As the labor union strike finally came to a close a couple hours ago, protest leader (and Italian IBM staffer) Barillo Kohnke looked out over the crowd of several dozen still there at the IBM Italia region, and declared victory:
The strike began in the early morning today (round Midnight, Second Life Time) and when I visited IBM's main hub, a crowd was already gathering.
Most of the activity seemed to be concentrated on the IBM Italia region on the corporate campus-- unsurprising, since the protest is over a paycut impacting Italian workers of the company. In any case, they continued streaming in, and the leaders kept count of unique visitors. At the end, the Uni Global Second Life spokesman told me they'd counted 1850 in all.
What IBM management thinks of all this is still unclear; I talked to several staffers on campus during the strike, and they declined comment. A senior IBM staffer watched the protest from a distance, but when I asked to take a screenshot, he promptly vanished into the metaverse aether.
"We tried to discuss with IBM management but no way," Kohnke tells me. "We had only a tech contact with the IBM project manager of IBM Italy sim, to check some security problems (griefers' attacks)." (It's unclear whether he meant IBM thought the protesters were themselves griefers, or it involved unrelated individuals.)
"IBM did not officially react to our protest so far," a post-protest e-mail from the organizers stated. "However, they did shut down parts of their Business Centre to visitors (or really, protesters.) A number of participants managed to crash an IBM staff meeting during the afternoon-- where they were immediately asked to leave and to 'protest outside'." Protesters demanded to speak with management there, the announcement continues, but instead, the meeting was abruptly ended.
As the protest rolled on, IBM Second Life staffers continued working. I tried to get a comment from these two employees, but one offered a terse "No comment" and the other said nothing at all. (Above, the Italian protesters are just visible in the background, at the far right.)
Protesters gathered down Irving Wladawsky-Berger Boulevard-- ironic, perhaps, for it's named after the company's Chairman Emeritus, who was instrumental in moving IBM into Second Life.
As with any Second Life gathering, the protesters were diverse in character, avatar babes shoulder to shoulder with geometric shapes and sentient fruit who also saw cause to join the dissent.
And as with most real world protests, this one also attracted off-message sign-wavers. For instance, I asked this humanoid stack of square discs what Korea had to with the strike.
"Is that what it says?" the stack of discs replied, surprised. Someone had handed it to them, they told me, but couldn't tell what the sign read. And the discs excused themselves, and went off to locate a more fitting message.