Teachers Union to join Student Protests in Quebec?
A Speech by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of the Student Organisation Classe
Reports suggest that teachers' unions may be preparing to join students in Quebec, protesting for free education
Quebec students have been involved in a long running strike against a rise in their tuition fees, which resulted in much state oppression, including the formulation of a new law - the so-called Bill 78 - which restricts the right to protest and the rights of education workers to strike.
Now teachers - who are being asked to teach two terms in the time it would normally take to teach one, in order to make up the time lost by the strikes, are reported to be considering action. The vice-president of the Teachers' Federation said: 'We're willing to do out part in this.' The union is demanding the employment of hundreds of temporary teachers to cope with the extra work needed.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of the students organisation CLASSE, called last month for unions to join with the students in their fight for social justice - not just for free education but on issues like health care and the environment. So far the teachers union in Quebec has been supportive to the students in their struggle and over the summer school holiday weeks an intensive discussion is taking place amongst students, teachers, unions and the wider society on the possibilities of a common front against neo-liberalism.
Student leaders in all federations have emphasised that one of the most important elements in their success in bringing students along with them - up to 75% of students took part in actions - has been their use of general assemblies, where all members are allowed to express their views before decisions are taken. The bureaucracies of all unions - including teaching unions - have much to learn from the students' struggles.