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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire UCL AL #310 - Unionism, Education: The battle of a thousand posts, fruitful memory (de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:20:18 +0200

Five years ago, Saint-Denis (93) was the epicenter of a revolt involving teachers and parents of students. A historic mobilization, which has forced the State to create more than 1,000 positions for school teachers. How did the alchemy take ? Return on experience. ---- September 2014 in Saint-Denis (93). Even more than in previous years, the shortage gives rise to cold sweats. In the city's 64 schools, nearly 25 classes have re-entered the school year without any teacher being appointed. It is the last straw. The starting point of a movement that will punctuate the nine months of the school year. ---- Saint-Denis (93) is the most populous city of Seine-Saint-Denis, a working-class and mixed department, notoriously under-equipped. Sociologist Benjamin Moignard noted that "the least well-endowed Parisian establishments are better endowed than the most endowed establishments in Seine-Saint-Denis"[1]. In 2013, a group of parents of students calculated that due to non-replacements, each student in the department loses the equivalent of one year of schooling between kindergarten and high school[2].

This is the consequence of the destruction plan launched by Sarkozy and not stopped by Hollande: 80,000 jobs in the National Education system by the first, 30,000 created by the second ... "How to destroy a public service ? By lowering its funding, summarizes the libertarian intellectual Noam Chomsky. It will no longer work. People will get angry, they will want something else. This is the basic technique for privatizing a public service."[3]

Thus, on September 2, 2014, in Seine-Saint-Denis, 950 children set off for school without knowing that no teacher was waiting for them, mainly in basin 1 (south-west) and in Saint -Denis, the poorest areas of the department. No one can close their eyes to the crisis anymore.

The historic mobilization of 1998 in Seine-Saint-Denis, involving teachers, parents and students, had obtained that the maximum threshold in the priority education network (Rep) is 23 students per class, thanks to the immediate recruitment of 3,000 teachers. es. At the start of the 2014 school year, the threshold is overwhelmed, with an average of 24.11 students. From the first week, there are hundreds of non-replaced teaching days. In a school group in the Franc-moisin district, in Saint-Denis, no less than 5 positions are vacant.

The parent-teacher alliance sealed in action
Following protests from parents of students, a first GA is held on September 30. We seal the alliance between parents and teachers, for a first strong action: on Monday, October 13, around ten schools are occupied by parents ; in the afternoon, around 100 parents and teachers from around 20 schools gather in front of the inspectorate. After the All Saints holidays, a large general assembly is organized on Thursday, November 6.

It is this GA that will give the real kick-off of the movement by deciding to go on strike. As Bakunin wrote a hundred and forty years earlier, "ten, twenty or thirty men[and women]well understood and well organized among themselves, and who know where they are going and what they want, will easily lead 100, 200, 300 or even more"[4]. The strike is due to start on November 20. The day before, the Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, announced nine measures for the 93, including the organization of a second competition, or more than 500 additional positions.

But that does not defuse the protest, and the strike is followed, in Saint-Denis, by 80% of teachers ; 40 out of 62 schools are closed. A demonstration of 600 people crosses the city starting from the "Donkey Bonnets Ministry", a wasteland occupied by a group of parents of pupils. This is unheard of. The mobilization does not end in December. Some teams, strangled by the understaffing, display a "counter of non-replaced days At the school door. Several occupations are still organized by parents and staff. This is the case in a school which has seen a succession of seven substitutes in three months on its CE1. The inspector was held there for several hours by exasperated parents. Result: an experienced replacement is immediately seconded to the post. Another school, another occupation: one class saw a succession of 11 substitutes !

Two other schools are occupied to protest against the loss of the ranking in Rep. On December 9, a departmental strike highlighted the inequalities in the Rep system, and demanded its extension to new schools, until then on the sidelines. On December 16, a large town assembly keeps the local mobilization warm during the end of year celebrations.

The state plugs the holes by creating insecurity
Forced to act, the State will nevertheless find a way to use the shortage to experiment with a regressive policy. Instead of creating permanent positions, it will recruit temporary employees. As a result, from 2015, in Saint-Denis, nearly a tenth of teachers will be non-tenured. And that won't even be enough to plug all the holes.

"Revolutionary gymnastics", to borrow the witticism of one of the founders of the CGT, Émile Pouget, is the succession of emancipation movements, which reinforce each other and form a counter-power, a prerequisite essential for building popular power. Grassroots decision and direct action are its fuel. The victorious movements of 1998, then of 2013, which locally delayed the reform of school rhythms by one year, fueled the struggle of 2014-2015.

In the spring, pearl strike and highway blockades
On May 19, 2015, the teachers' assembly voted for a week of strike action. It will be relayed by a walkout every Thursday until mid-June. All the schools in the city are mobilized, with 30 to 50% of strikers recorded on each day, by rotation within the teams. Commissions are created to organize actions and communication. The A1 motorways, then A86, are blocked by nearly 250 parents, teachers and students. On June 4, a die-in (demonstrators lying down, as dead) in front of the inspectorate is accompanied by 200 figures representing the missing teachers. On June 6, the Lycée de la Légion d'Honneur, a monument of class injustices encrusted on the territory, was occupied. Schools write grievance notebooks.

"Too cool ! In Saint-Denis, we played all day."Parents of students have created the"Department of Donkey Caps"on a wasteland in the city.
"Strikers: participating in strike initiatives, participating in the GA to build the follow-up is essential!"as claimed by the SUD-Education union. The tone is the right one, with up to 120 people in GA staff, and up to 180 in joint assemblies, which are the heart of the struggle. As in Greece or Los Angeles, the victory - 1,053 positions created in two years in the schools of Seine-Saint-Denis, plus 470 throughout the academy - will have been snatched thanks to a broad front of parents and teachers, in the popular unit. The following year, in March 2016, when we will fight against the Labor bill, the interpro AG of Saint-Denis will decide to block transport axes, port areas and other economic infrastructures, in a dynamic which will be a driving force for whole of the Paris region. It is the education strikers of 2014-2015 who will propose this tactic. Not quite a coincidence !

Louise (UCL Saint-Denis)


[1] Quoted in the Cornut-Gentille - Kokouendo parliamentary report, May 31, 2018.

[2] Le Monde , February 28, 2013.

[3] Requiem for the American Dream , Les Mutins de Pangée, 2018.

[4] Michel Bakounine, "Protest of the Alliance", 1871.

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