Apr 09 2009

Another Way Must be Tried

Category: News,Post-strike Discussion (2009)Bob Hanke @ 8:59 am
After Nine Months, a Labour Pact at York U.


Strike-weary York University can look forward to at least two years of labour peace if teaching assistants and contract faculty approve a tentative deal reached this week.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees 3903, which shut down the sprawling campus this winter for three months in a strike largely over the growing use of part-time instructors, has reached a tentative three-year settlement with York with the help of a mediator appointed two months ago by Queen’s Park.

The union representing 3,400 contract professors, teaching assistants and graduate assistants announced yesterday on its website it was “pleased” to have reached a settlement with York after nine months of negotiations.

The contract would apply until September 2011.

The Ontario government legislated the union back to work in February after the longest university strike in English-speaking Canada, and handed the dispute to a mediator.

But for students facing another two months of school because of the extended school year, news of the agreement seemed anti-climactic.

“I hope both sides are happy, but now that I’m back in class, they can take as long as they want to get a deal,” said kinesiology student Catherine Divaris, who helped launch a website during the 85-day strike urging an end to the disruption.

“Because of the strike I’m in midterms in April instead of finals,” said the fourth-year student, who has applied to law schools across the province, including York’s Osgoode Hall.

“The one good thing is, a three-year deal means there is no danger of another strike until at least 2011.”


Another “good thing” for York students and contract faculty who feel access to education is a democratic right and a public good, and not just another commodified service and a private value, would be to start mobilizing to  strike against tuition hikes.  Last week, the L’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante organized strikes with several universities and CEGEPS,  drawing students into the streets with calls for free education. To read more, click here.


Commentary of Last Month: Lessons of the York University Strike by Chris Bailey, March 2, 2009.

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Feb 18 2009

French University Teachers Strike to Defend Working Conditions

Category: NewsBob Hanke @ 6:01 pm

By Pierre Mabut, February 13 2009 (excerpted from the World Socialist Web Site)

Some 100,000 university teachers and students protested in French cities February 10 seeking to force the withdrawal of the decree issued by the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy on the status of university teachers. The decree forms part of the Liberties and Responsibilities of Universities (LRU) law on university reform against which students battled last year in isolation.

The higher education reform would give autonomy to university governing bodies and open the way for market-oriented policies. The teachers’ determination to continue their fight to defend their working conditions has hardened in spite of an appeal by Minister of Higher Education Valérie Pécresse “to find ways through” the dispute by naming a mediator.

Fifty-seven thousand university teachers have been on strike or have made some form of protest since February 2, when a national coordinating committee of 196 delegates representing 79 institutions met at the Sorbonne in Paris. The delegates rejected the changes in the status of research teachers, teacher training and the content of competitive exams required for teaching in primary and secondary education.

To read the rest of this story and see photos, click here.


Feb 07 2009

French Universities are on a Permanent Strike

Category: Newsjonnyj @ 12:04 pm

The French system of universities is public, with teachings and research of high quality. It has always enjoyed independence, liberty and recognition. But, within the past few months, the government has decided, brutally and without any concertation, to end this system and replace it by some sort of marketplace model of research where arbitrary decisions and instability prevail.

  • The previous statute of the academics has ended and their teaching duties are now decided on face value.
  • Permanent positions are being cut dramatically and being replaced by temporary, insecure and dependent positions.
  • PhD students can now be fired without any justification during the first six months of their PhD, and are now made available to private industries without any recognition of their rights.
  • The training of teachers is in distress.
  • Universities are autonomous (but in fact, they compete with each other under a reinforced government control) and without sufficient funding, they will soon have to put in place tuition fees and put themselves under the influence of local funding sources.
  • The CNRS is suppressed and changed into a funding agency managed by technocrats.
  • Academic researches are evaluated by inadequate and inept “quantitative means” rejected by all scholar societies.

We, academics and researches from all around the world, assert that these decisions are bureaucratic, financially motivated and dangerous. Similar decisions were or are imposed in other institutions of many countries. As such, we support the French academics in their fight. If, the education and the research of the country of the Encyclopédie, of Voltaire and Rousseau, and of the Declaration of Human Rights, are now reduced to market laws and under the influence of the political powers, then it is the freedom of the whole world that is under threat.

The powers that are imposing this new deal are organizing themselves. To defend our common values, we need to organize ourselves better and in greater number. Therefore, we call for all academics of all political sides, of all beliefs and of all creeds to join to oppose these changes that no humanist scientists of any time ever supported.


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Jan 10 2009

Strike Committee Meeting, Jan. 11th

Category: Eventsjonnyj @ 11:02 am

A strike committee meeting will be held on Sunday, Jan. 11th, from 3pm-6pm at OISE Rm. 5250. Important decisions will be made concerning our plans for next week. Please come to this meeting if you can. We can have a Unit 2 sub-meeting as well if members wish.