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Student unions: towards the unification of fighting unions

category france / belgium / luxemburg | education | news report author Wednesday January 09, 2013 23:00author by Rémi & Aurelien - Alternative Libertaire Report this post to the editors

On 29 and 30 September last the Fédération syndicale étudiante (FSE - Student Union Federation) and SUD-Étudiant (SUD-Student) held a congress where they confirmed their merger, leading to the creation of a new organization in January. [Français]

Student unions: towards the unification of fighting unions

On 29 and 30 September last the Fédération syndicale étudiante (FSE - Student Union Federation) and SUD-Étudiant (SUD-Student) held a congress where they confirmed their merger, leading to the creation of a new organization in January.

After more than six years of discussions between the student union FSE and SUD-Étudiant, the unification of fighting student unions is on its way. A merger congress was held in St. Denis in September and a new organization resulting from the merger saw the light of day with a new Congress in January 2013. This meeting was an opportunity for militants from the two federations to outline the bases of the new union and to reaffirm their principles. Mixed SUD-FSE branches already exist in some universities.

Five years after the LRU (the 2007 law on "the freedoms and responsabilities of universities), this merger comes at a time when Public Universities are in poor condition. Half the institutions are experiencing cuts in their budgets. Twenty universities are facing unprecedented deficits, resulting in major spending cuts and their management being put under the supervision. All are subject to profitability objectives and the interests of private investors.

The failure of employer-led universities

As a result, courses are being revised to meet the needs of employers and the sectors deemed unnecessary are being gradually abandoned. Students from more modest backgrounds, who often work while they study, are more severely affected by these financial difficulties. In late November the Socialist government held a parody of a consultation called the Upper Education and Research Assizes, which led to a new framework law in late March. Everything suggests that it will continue the work of destroying public education and research.

Getting out of the rut

In this difficult context, it became urgent for the forces of fighting syndicalism to join together. Both the FSE and SUD-Étudiant were created as an alternative to the pro-partnership, bureaucratic trade unionism of the bureaucratic Union Nationale des Étudiants de France (UNEF - National Union of Students of France). They draw their source from the self-organized struggles of students. The UNEF, which is very close to the Socialist Party, has already called for a mobilization... for university elections, confirming that its closeness to the new Government will be taken into account in the construction of the struggles to come.

After the failure of several movements against the LRU but also against the pension reforms, the social climate is gloomy. The FSE and SUD-Étudiant, who won their legitimacy during the mobilizations, are facing a decline in their audience. The unification of these fighting trade unions will have to allow them to respond to the challenges of the period. This means rebuilding a new labour tool which is visibile and accessible to as many as possible in the struggles of today and tomorrow, and able to diversify its implementation (Institutes for Technology, Regional social work institutes, etc.) and to gain greater support for fighting unionism.

It must create concrete bonds of solidarity between students. And lastly, at a time when students, workers and the unemployed are under a coordinated attack by the employers and the government, it is crucial that the student unionism works daily on an inter-professional level. This is why the new organization will join Solidaires.

Rémi (AL Paris-Sud) & Aurelien (AL Paris Nord-Est)

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office

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