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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #301 - unionism, Education: When a union desert becomes green again (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 19 Jan 2020 19:02:21 +0200

The majority of establishments in the country have failed to go on an indefinite strike. In Saint-Affrique (Aveyron), by linking the fight on pensions to that against the deterioration of working conditions, we doubled attendance at the GA ... and allowed the rebirth of a union section. ---- National Education personnel have been numerous and numerous in the demonstrations since December 5. We found this trend on December 5, 10 and 17. If Macron's counter-reform served as a trigger, the anger of the employees in this sector is also explained by ten years of blocked salaries in the public service, reduction of staff, a particularly violent counter-reform of the school and a deterioration in working conditions which gradually brings national education down the same slope as the public hospital: that of liquidation and privatization.

It is therefore the strongest mobilization of this profession since 2003 ... And for all that, National Education has not been blocked like the RATP or the SNCF. Even if the call of the inter-union to hold general assemblies to debate and decide on the indefinite strike has been widely relayed, a good part of the profession has not managed to register in this mode of action.

Thirty years of the neoliberal steamroller - restructuring, downsizing and intensification of work - have done damage. And even in establishments deemed combative, we still feel the weight of past defeats and a distrust of collective action.

How to shake the torpor ? There are no miracle recipes. But an observation of what is happening at the local level shows that there is a space for challenging both the educational policy and the anti-social policy of the Blanquer-Philippe-Macron trio.

57% of strikers on the Cité scolaire
In Aveyron, the school district of Saint-Affrique (900 pupils of the first and second degree, and the higher) is located in one of these union deserts where, by necessity, action takes longer to start. The CFDT vivote and SUD-Éduc, despite a lot of effort and a real current of sympathy, had so far failed to take off. The other unions are dead. In this context, general assemblies capped at 20 participants since the start of the school year.

The mobilization on December 5 was very good with a rate of 57% of strikers at the Cité scolaire de Saint-Affrique. It then fluctuated between 30% and 50%. However, at the start, the GA did not work better than usual. Unaccustomed to collective action, most people go on strike "individually", home. The GA of December 19 reached 40 participants, from the time when the issue of working conditions was tackled jointly with that of pensions. Then some teachers took the plunge to truly create a SOUTH section, realizing that the union presence, even limited, had greatly helped not only to reconnect with GAs and regular union info hours, but also to tie links between the different categories of staff.

Having a visible collective made it possible to identify, regain confidence and, ultimately, to increase the rate of strikers. On the days of December 5, 12 and 17, we had people who had never gone on strike.

More generally at the level of National Education, we feel that ruptures are taking place, even if they are not spectacular. A significant part of the staff, in calculating their future pension, was alarmed to note that the loss of income could exceed 800 euros per month. Blanquer's promises to increase staff by 20 euros net per month from 2021 have been taken for what they are: provocations. But if the shock was great, it was not enough to tip the vast majority of officers into the indefinite strike and blockades of establishments. And in mid-December we saw the emergence, in a large number of GAs, of claims linked to the deterioration of working conditions due to the layoffs of posts,

The question of working conditions refers to the immediacy of what staff experience. It is in addition to the question of pensions, which should be tackled more from the perspective of the distribution of wealth, which would raise awareness of the need to increase wages. The articulation of all these essential questions can breathe new life into the dispute, if the union teams and general assemblies know how to deal with it.

The reform of the bac weighs down the ras-le-bol
In addition to the revolt against the heist on pensions, discontent is fueled by the new tests in continuous monitoring of the bac, which cause additional work.

Before, the bac exams were concentrated on June. From now on they will be spread out throughout the year. This puts permanent pressure on high school students, high school students and their families, as well as staff, and including management staff who, in Occitania, have alerted the academic hierarchy of the growing unease of staff regarding these unattainable objectives.

In several departments (Aveyron, Bouches-du-Rhône), GAs have proposed methods of action that can be articulated with the unlimited strike and the blocking of establishments. We hear more and more about the collective resignations of main teachers, coordinators of disciplines, or of members of pedagogical councils, retention of subjects and bac notes in language and history-geography, including tests are scheduled to take place in January.

More generally, January will be a tense period not only with the bac exams, but also with the assessments of the preparatory classes, which the most inspired assemblies call not to implement.

At the end of January, the first decisions will also be made to reduce teaching hours and close classrooms.

Laurent Esquerre (UCL Aveyron)

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