A last minute attempt by the Liberal government to reiterate the threat of fines because the strike would be illegal, prompted the union leadership to call for pulling back on a strike. But, at least a dozen cégep faculties went ahead with strike action. Six Montreal cégep professors have been suspended for strike action but cegeps professors have vowed to continue organizing.
Julian Villeneuve, a professor at cegep Maisonneuve, spoke to socialist.ca about how the strike was organized through votes at faculty general assemblies. The feeling among activists in the lead-up to May 1 was that if 10 cégeps could get strike votes that it would be a success. In all 30 cégeps, one half of all cégeps, voted to strike.
“This strike was smaller than 2012 but it has brought austerity more into the public discourse. It is also becoming clear to many people that what the government is doing with austerity is ideological. They are using the debt as a justification for reducing the social safety net, redistributing wealth and privatizing.”
He feels there that it is time prepare for broader social struggles. “Every time we fight, we learn. But, there is a lack of clarity about the kinds of fights that we have to do. The union leadership needs to think about a long term strategy to achieve real goals.”
Contracts for all Quebec public sector workers expire in the fall. Public sector trade unions have formed a united front to be able to act collectively and hopefully take up the challenge that the students have initiated, to fight against the ideological onslaught of the agenda of austerity as a whole.