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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #298 - Education: No, union unity is not a drag on the ground (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:23:56 +0300

The government dismantles the public school through its educational reforms and its wage policy, however its Minister of Education, Blanquer, has never been so fragile. One can question the role and strategies of the unions of the FSU-FO-CGT and SUD inter-unions. ---- The school year that begins promises to be rich in mobilization on the side of the staff of the National Education. If there is a desire and especially reasons to struggle among staff, the fragmentation of the trade union landscape does not allow to amplify these mobilizations. This year could be decisive for the trade unions of the National Education: will they manage to build an inter-union framework at the service of the struggles ?
Liberal reforms are accelerating ...
The Minister of National Education has made sure that the back to school is going " well ". Concerned about his image, he has multiplied reassuring announcements in the media: three-year contracts for all AESH staff (accompanying students with disabilities), split CE1 classes and above all a serene application of the high school reform .

Yet the unions of staff of the National Education draw a completely different balance sheet of this return. In many academies, the AESH have not signed these famous three-year contracts. School premises are often not suitable for CE1 duplication. Job cuts aggravate working conditions. The reform of the school is so unpopular that hundreds of teachers met before the summer school re-entry to reaffirm their dissatisfaction.

The reforms of high schools and guidance (Parcoursup) are a major point of tension in the fall of 2019 because they are symptomatic of the way the government proceeded: Parcoursup is for example applied in high schools before being voted. In September 2019, teachers still do not know the content or the modalities of the final tests of the baccalaureate that they and they must yet prepare with their students.

All the elements of liberalism are present: individualization of the courses, breaking of the national framework of the diplomas, territorialization of the teaching, contracting of the personnel ... The reforms Blanquer and the management more and more wild of the personnel show that one crossed a new not in the adaptation of the world of Education to liberalism.

... but a weakened minister ...
The sequence of retention of the baccalaureate exams and exams is the result of several years of mobilization and coordination of high school staff.

First the movement " Do not touch my ZEP " for the return of high schools in priority education networks had brought together in a same coordination staff who are mobilized " piecemeal " by high school. The rejection of the Blanquer reforms allowed this coordination to bring together more of the colleagues and to propose more federative and more radical methods of action by calling to block the exams.

Minister Blanquer is, of course, weakened by this wave of protests. Last spring, following the mobilization of school teachers, he had to return to the cleaving elements of his law known as " for the school of trust ". Similarly, in September 2019, he tries to " buy " the faculty and its trade union organizations by announcements in the small week as meager salary increases (25 euros per month) in a context of freezing point index and breakage of the pension system.

Today, Blanquer's policy is largely unpopular. In schools, staff reject their reactionary ideas on pedagogy and deplore the lack of resources especially in priority education. Similarly, in the services of the National Education, the working conditions are largely degraded due to job cuts.

The " Blanquer method " is widely criticized. In fact, the Minister imposes reforms that are urgently prepared by major advertisements in the press without consulting or informing his own services. This was the case with the postponement of the Brevet des collèges in June last announced in the press even before the rectors were informed.

... what are unions doing ?
The situation in the National Education is favorable to initiate a strike movement able to put in trouble the government and to make progress.

The high school staff managed to coordinate and act at the end of the year, and those of the schools in the spring. Unfortunately, they did not really get together. The demands of the education staff are so numerous that they can not converge: local problems concerning means to inter-professional or societal mobilisations concerning pensions or the climate, through the educational reforms of Blanquer ... How to find oneself on the struggles and to act together ?

Trade unions have a real role to play, from their smallest local level to their national representation. The strategic differences within the FSU between SNUipp, union 1 st degree, and the SNES union of 2 nd degree, as the weak implementation on the ground of CGT éducaction and SOUTH education, and the withdrawal of FO did not allow the national and local inter-unions to launch real convergence dates.

However, it was still observed during the strike of June 17, the first day of the baccalaureate exams, that the inter-union calls can amplify the mobilizations. There is therefore an urgent need for trade union education organizations to build a grassroots union unit to anchor and expand mobilizations.

Today, very few departments have a truly unitary inter-union framework. Often the inter-union work is limited to declining locally a national call to mobilization, to vaguely follow jointly the case of a mobilized institution or to consult at the time of the proceedings. Nevertheless, whenever a union manages to be hegemonic in a sector and a territory (non-holders, the 1 st degree), it releases the constraints of an inter-working and prefers to act alone.

For many trade unionists, trade union unity appears to hinder the development of their union. This undoubtedly reflects a lack of strategic aim of some of the trade unionists who are betting on favoring the development of their own tool, their union. They think that a strong union will make progress for all staff. This would be true if there was only one social transformation union in the field of education. But in the context of union plurality and attacks against paritarianism, this strategy is losing. It isolates and weakens trade union organizations !

It is no doubt the task of libertarian communist activists to make union unity a priority in order to gain progress for the staff. For this, we can build advocacy platforms and common action strategies at all scales by involving the unions in the spaces of self-organization created by the struggling staff.

Maud (UCL Greater Paris South)

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