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Opera Launches a Trade Union Browser

[London, ENGLAND] Norwegian Web browser developer Opera Software announced Thursday a link-up with workers' rights organization Labour and Society International to combine the Opera browser with the LabourStart portal.

According to Opera, the biggest Dutch and Norwegian trade unions have already signed up to the project, and more are expected to follow suit.

Essentially, the new partnership will allow trade unions worldwide to create online grassroots networks with relative simplicity. A special version of the browser will provide a customized Splash screen, start pages, and hotlists, in addition to regular functionality.

Jon S. von Tetzchner, chief executive of Opera Software, said the project has opened up new opportunities for Opera.

"With the power of the world's largest grassroots movements behind us in helping to distribute Opera, we will see thousands of new users joining in on Opera's Internet experience," said von Tetzchner.

The Opera browser has long played a minor role in the Internet industry compared to Microsoft Internet Explorer and AOL's Netscape browser. Yet it is frequently acclaimed by experts who have always admired its many features, some of which -- like incremental magnification of the page -- are unique to it. It is also faster, smaller and more standards-compliant than other browsers.

Gerd-Liv Valla, vice-president of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions which has over 0.8 million members, said the browser could become an important tool for union representatives working across national borders.

Gretchen B. Donart, communications organizer, Seattle Union Now, AFL-CIO, was enthusiastic in her endorsement of the project, saying that Opera 5 has bells and whistles missing on the big two -- such as lots of keyboard shortcuts, and a print preview feature missing from Internet Explorer.

"It loads fast on both the newest equipment and on my cranky older computer at home," said Donart, identifying one of the key reasons why, against all the odds, a small Norwegian company survived the Browser Wars of long ago and is able, today, to help the trade union movement.

The LabourStart portal, launched in 1998, provides news coverage for the union movement together with a free newswire service and a directory with links to 130 trade union Web sites.

The LabourStart Web address is www.labourstart.org.