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(en) France, UCL AL #324 - National Education, Towards the resignation of Blanquer and beyond (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 13 Mar 2022 10:10:35 +0200

This month of January was marked by a strike movement of unprecedented magnitude in National Education. If the grotesque conditions in which the latest protocols were announced within schools have a lot to do with it, the causes of the malaise are deeper and the demands must now go far beyond being on the social ground. ---- Before the end of the year holidays, the horizon was the day of strike of January 27 for the trade unionists of National Education. On the one hand because the preoccupation with wages, in this sector as in the rest of the world of work, is an important protest issue, linked to the increase in the cost of living. Question which had already materialized moreover by a specific strike on the question on January 26, 2021. On the other hand because since this date, and in support of important union work in the field and several days of national strike, the personnel[1]mobilize strongly and regularly on the triptych: "a real job, a real status, a real salary".

Remember that these precarious staff represent nearly 120,000 employees, 90% of whom are women, paid below the minimum wage[2]. The national inter-union AESH, in which SUD education plays a leading role, thus worked on a new day of mobilization in January. There was still concern about the strength of the commitment of the staff: the union teams had been observing for months the harmful effects of the health crisis on the work collectives and the mobilization capacities. But Jean-Michel Blanquer is an almost inexhaustible source of radicalization.

Blanquer, authoritarian minister
The epidemic wave linked to the appearance of a new variant of coronavirus, Omicron, would hit French society in a spectacular way. During the end-of-year holidays, the question of postponing the start of the January school year for a week arises, in order to avoid even more massive circulation and contamination of the new, ultra-contagious variant. Blanquer, cantor of the "open school" does not want to know anything. And opting for a general slowdown is not in the interests of employers anyway.

Schools, colleges, high schools and vocational high schools therefore resume well on January 3... with an even lighter protocol than on the eve of the holidays. True to its line of conduct since the start of the epidemic crisis, the ministry has chosen to break the thermometer to settle the temperature issue. The famous protocol, announced in a paid article online on January 2, comes down in terms of investments to... nothing.

Obviously, from the first week, a tsunami of contact and positive cases completely disrupts the public education service. The "adjustments" of protocols follow one another (there will be four successive ones), juggling between self-tests and attestations on honor, accentuating the institutional cacophony. We are light years away from any emergency plan especially, since apart from "opening the windows", there is no provision of masks (surgical or FFP2) for staff (let's not talk about students) and CO2 sensors and air purifiers are mirages. As for building and fitting out the buildings of schools and establishments, the subject does not exist.

The first General Assemblies and walkouts are held in the establishments. We remember the month of November 2020, when a resumption of classes had already taken place with an increase in contamination without institutional consideration. Samuel Paty had been assassinated by an Islamist fundamentalist and for the vast majority of staff the time of meditation offered, like its terms, were not up to par, adding to the anger. There too, AG, walkouts and strikes had multiplied. Staff even developing alternative protocols[3]

The strike of January 13, 2022 is historic with 75% of strikers in the first degree and 65% in the second degree. And that is what is decisive.
Health strike
In this return to January 2022, we find a little of this spirit in the exchanges between staff, accentuated by even stronger contaminations. First strike calls are needed in the departments for January 11. The acceleration effect is noticeable from Thursday 6 January. Very quickly the day of Thursday, January 13 is in sight. If the SNUipp-FSU, the majority union of the first degree, is the first to make the call public, the other trade union organizations were nonetheless in full preparation for this date.

The anger is deep in all the professions of national education. Even the little combative Sgen-CFDT is obliged to take this into account and, jostled by its members, rallies to the strike day of January 13. The inter-union arc is unprecedented and even the unions of inspectors and management personnel are calling for a strike. The main federation of parents of students, the FCPE, is in the game. To try to break the rise to the strike, Castex feels compelled to announce urgently that surgical masks will arrive "by the end of January" in schools.

On January 13 the strike is historic with 75% of strikers in the first degree and 65% in the second degree. And that is what is decisive. The processions are everywhere dynamic, even if not filling up. The strike is widely supported. The national inter-union is received in audience the same evening by Castex, Véran and Blanquer. There are a few announcements, but very far from the mark, based mainly on a few thousand precarious jobs in reinforcement announced - which is very little compared to the million agents of National Education. In the days that follow the question is: how to bounce back ? Some GAs of strikers have called for a new day of strike on the 18th, others on the 20th, still others want to demonstrate on Saturday the 22nd with the parents of pupils. The SUD Education Federation takes the initiative of proposing to the national inter-union to call for January 20. It will be done, somewhat on a voluntary basis, everyone knows that. But having a kind of "buffer strike", printing from one strike to another, from January 13 to 27, is a way of continuing to strike the iron, even a little cooled.

Because it must be said, January 20 is much weaker and testifies to the will of the staff for unitary days, days "which are essential" in a certain way. However, the revelation by Mediapart of a protocol announced on January 2 from Ibiza by Blanquer is a new blow to the minister. Here again SUD Education stands out by fully assuming the demand for Blanquer's resignation. It is the only union to do so. At the time of writing this article, the day of January 27 has not passed. We will see whether the reservations of radicalism in the education sector have carried over to it or not.

70% strikers
Be that as it may, the question remains unanswered for the militant trade unionists: how to build a powerful mobilization over time, self-organized by the staff themselves, and which would anchor the school question in the camp of the working classes. To put the social movement back at the center of the game.

Theo Roumier

To validate

[1]AESH Accompanying Pupils with Disabilities

[2]See the SUD Education leaflet "March 8, end precariousness for women: a status for AESH", published on February 25, 2021

[3]"Health self-defense in education", article for the Autogestion Association website, November 9, 2020.

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