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Lessons from the Mass Student strike in Quebec - Ireland tour September 2013

category ireland / britain | education | news report author Monday September 16, 2013 22:12author by andrew - WSM Report this post to the editors

In 2012 the attempt by the government to Quebec to introduce a 75% fee hike was defeated by the organisation of a mass student strike that lasted over 6 months. That fee increase was part of the global process of imposing the privatisation and commodification of education. Since the victory, organisers of the strike have been being doing speaking tours to aid the process whereby "youth and students everywhere are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to organize as a means to defend education as a social right". In September this tour reaches Ireland where we need to hear how a sustained and militant student movement that can win is built.


There are two purposes to the tour.  Firstly so that we can learn how the successful strike was organised in Quebec and discuss whether similar methods might work here. But as importantly we want to use the organisation of the tour in order to aid in the building of a network of militant student activists across the island.  

Why is Quebec different

"In Quebec, a student strike isn’t just a bunch of rallies, marches and occupations. The strike is a complete shutdown of all courses on campus : no classes, no exams and no evaluations are to take place while the strike is on. Once the strike is voted in a general assembly and comes into effect, picket lines are erected and classrooms are emptied. Everyone, students and faculty alike, is forced to respect the strike mandate. Universities and colleges affected by the strike see their academic calendars disrupted, and since no classes or grading is allowed to happen, degrees can’t be awarded.

During the 2012 strike, most student unions held general assemblies every week to decide whether or not to stay on strike until the next assembly. While doing so, students meeting each other could also discuss the orientation and the actions of the movement. These regular and populous assemblies were fundamental in creating empowerment and a deep investment into the movement among students."  ( from )

About the tour

Vanessa with be talking to a couple of hundred students who we hope want to see a militant student movementemerge in Ireland.  We hope that this will be looked back on as one important moment in the creation of a fighting student movement that won in Ireland. 

Our speaker Vanessa participated and organised at many levels of the strike in small horizontal and autonomous groups, but also as a delegate for her local student union in the most combative national student union (CLASSE). She says “as a feminist activist I was involved in the organization of many collectives projects directly linked with the strike, and as a delegate elected by my general assembly I was one of the transmitting tool necessary for the practice of direct democracy on a large scale”. “All my analysis of the experience of the strike is formed by my political ideas of feminism, class struggle and anti-hierarchy."

Tour dates
We have set up a Facebook event for each date so that if you are on Facebook you can RSVP there and help us promote the tour by asking any interested friends you have for that location.  Please do ask people in other colleges to the event in their college.

UCC CORK -  Monday Sept 23rd co-hosted by Feminist Society West Wing 9, UCC for 7pm, Monday Sept 23rd (Please RSVP to UCC event on Facebook)
NUIG Galway - 7pm, Tuesday 24 September, Kirwan Theatre NUIG (Please RSVP to NUIG event on Facebook)
UCD Dublin,  Wed 25 Sept - co-hosted by Women's Studies Programme within the School of Social Justice  Room L532, School of Social Justice, 5th Floor of the Library Building from 1-2pm on  (Please RSVP to UCD Dublin event on Facebook)
TCD Dublin - Sept 25th co-hosted by Dept of Sociology - Jonathan Swift theatre in the arts block (2041a), for 7 pm. - (Please RSVP to TCD Dublin event on Facebook)
NUI Maynooth - Thur 26th September, NUI Maynooth John Hume 5,(JH 5) 13.00 - (Please RSVP to Maynooth event on Facebook)
Magee Derry - 13.00 Fri 27 Sept, Minor Hall, Main Building, Magee Campus, University of Ulster, Derry (Please RSVP to Derry event on Facebook)
Queens Belfast -Mon 30 September co-hosted by Feminist Society 6pm to 9pm in clubroom 3&4 in Queens Student Union (Please RSVP to Belfast event on Facebook)


author by Andrew - WSMpublication date Mon Sep 23, 2013 19:43Report this post to the editors

As some of you will know I've been working the last while on bringing an organiser of the 2012 mass student strike to Ireland for a speaking tour. Vanessa, our speaker arrived Saturday morning and after got to the AFA Ireland solidarity with Greek anti-fascists demonstration and the Shell to Sea fundraiser in Seomra Spraoi is speaking in Cork today. She spoke after a welcome meal we had for her in Seomra last night and (although I'm biased) I really think any radical will find what she has to say about the experiences of the strike really useful. The talk was very focused on the concrete organisational challenges of co-ordinating a 6 month long strike that had 400,000 students staying out of college for up to 6 months - some of the challenges will be familiar to you, but not at that scale.

So if you were wondering whether or not to go to one of the 7 meetings over the next 7 days let me say you definetly should. And you should bring along some friends.

Details of the tour dates are above

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