by Solidarity Webzine
May 8, 2012
Since February 13th, a student strike movement has been spreading and gaining momentum in Quebec. The movement arose in opposition to a proposal by the Quebec government, spearheaded by the Liberal Party Prime Minister Jean Charest, to effectively double tuition fees for all post-secondary students in the province. The strike has been primarily organized by a militant and democratic student union federation, the Association for a Student Union Solidarity (ASSÉ), which established a temporary strike coalition welcoming all students seeking to oppose tuition hikes called the Broad Coalition of ASSÉ (CLASSÉ).
On March 22, the strike mobilized historic numbers of students and their supporters in downtown Quebec, with over 200,000 in attendance. This rally was dwarfed by roughly 400,000 students (the majority of the provincial high school and post-secondary student population) who were officially on strike by mid-March. While CLASSÉ is more militant, there has been outstanding unity between all student unions and organizations in opposition to the hikes. For instance, though the government has recently announced that it will not include CLASSÉ in negotiations over education reform (student unions have the right to collectively bargain with the government in Quebec), the other major student union federations FEUQ and FECQ refused to negotiate without their inclusion.
Banner reads, “The Strike is Students, the Struggle is Popular”
At the time of this writing, the movement has reached a new intensity. Police repression has intensified, with hundreds arrested recently at protests in Montreal, and the movement has also grown and spread. CLASSÉ has made an official call for the student strike movement to be generalized, for all Quebec citizens who believe in the right to free public education to mobilize and for militancy and strike action to spread beyond the education sector. Time will tell what directions with the movement will take, and what will be the outcomes.
In light of this historic protest, we have gathered a number of journalistic pieces, movement essays, video interviews, speeches and other media pieces around the Quebec Student Strike.
A first video from the Real News Network reports on the strike early on, looking at the causes and giving solid footage on the ground.
This second video is a speech from the student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, with french audio and stylized english text translating his powerful speech about students in the larger struggle against capitalism.
A last video interviews three student leaders, asking them “How did Quebec Students organize for the historic strike? In it, they discuss their militant, democratic student unions and the need to have a political vision in their work.
Articles, Essays and Statements on the Strike
Socialist Project’s Bullet on The Student Movement
CLASSÉ released a statement explaining their movement, “A Student Strike, A Popular Strike”, which looks at the leading role of the students in the larger fight against austerity.
A statement released on Earth Day in Montreal embraces the student movement and declares that Our Generation’s Quiet Awakening Must be Green and Red, expanding the students’ radicalization with an ecological perspective.
Richard Fidler’s commentary at the New Socialist webzine, Massive Student Upsurge Fuels Major Debates in Quebec Society, points to how the student struggle is having a wider societal effect.
Special thanks to Eric Haight for contributions to this piece.