Unity with Students - key to Haiti Teachers' Struggle
19th November 2012
High School Students affected by Tear Gas as Police surround Law School
Haiti teachers, who were on strike last week, say that their unity with students in struggle was key to the strike's so far successful outcome
Haiti teachers were on strike last week, demanding, amongst other things, cholera vaccination for school children, nutritious food for schools as well as fair salaries for teachers. Their strike co-incided with student protests against police brutality, which had caused the death of a law student, Damael d'Haiti. The leaders of the Haiti teachers are convinced that it was this coalition of forces which has brought the government of Haiti for the first time to the negotiating table with their unions. As they put it in a statement by their union UNNOH: “we must now work with an eye to a better coordination of these different struggles so as to strengthen the movement in general.”
So much did the two movements come together that strike organisers and students worked together to bring high school students out to support the demonstration. The teachers say that there would have been no negotiations without the strike mobilisation and they are ready to take action again should the negotiations be unsuccessful.
International observers made the following points in their reports of events:
It a society like Haiti, any one oppressed group that stands up and fights is going to act like a clarion call to all their brothers and sisters. In this case, the UNNOH strike morphed into an unexpected mass protest by young people of which the union teachers became a significant part, forming a de facto teacher-student alliance, an alliance of union workers with the workers of tomorrow.
Can anyone say the two issues are not related? A student was killed by police, and teachers already marching as a union joined in the youthful students’ militant call for justice. UNNOH itself had a marching teacher, Jean Louis Filbert, killed by a police tear-gas canister in 2010. “Same struggle, same fight.”
We look forward to a future movement joining these brave young people with their progressive teachers to change Haiti radically. We call on you all to continue your support, because this was just one battle in a long war. And it is a battle, and a war, which like all workers’ struggles “knows no borders.” We international supporters of the Haitian teachers and their students are beginning to play the role which it is our internationalist duty to perform.
To read more about the background to the struggle in Haiti, go here. To send messages of support email here.