CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at 1356.cupe.ca This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Update on Québec Student Strike

The two largest Québec student organisations have now officially joined the student strike in Québec. With over 250,000 members, FEUQ and FECQ have the potential bring the Québec post-secondary education system to a halt. This will undoubtedly increase pressure on Premier Charest who is four weeks away from tabling the Québec budget. As well, with discontent and strike votes on other issues within Québec unions, the student strike has the potential to spark even wider resistance to Charest's cuts to social services.

In Québec, a mass rally is being planned for March 16. Those outside Québec are being encouraged to get pledges filled in and faxed, and also to send signed banners to the Ontario office (see address below) so they can be sent to students in Québec. If we receive banners by March 14, we will have time to get them shipped to Montreal in time for the mass rally. For your convenience, I have attached the pledge sheets in a pdf file (French and English). I would suggest photocopying the pledge double-sided in both French and English so that people can sign the French side too.

Below I've pasted in recent French and English articles from the Quebec strike.

In solidarity,


Pam Frache,
Ontario Campaigns and Government Relations Coordinator,
Canadian Federation of Students
201-720 Spadina Avenue,
Toronto, ON
M5S 2T9

416-925-3825
campaigns@cfsontario.ca


Time to strike is now, Québec's largest student group says
Call to action comes after Liberals announce $103 million will not be put back into loans and bursaries
By Dave Weatherall
CUP Québec Bureau Chief

MONTRÉAL (CUP) -- After promises of a massive re-investment in post-secondary education at the Liberal retreat last November, new Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier said his party will not put back the $103 million his predecessor cut from the bursaries program.

The announcement comes as students associations across the province are either on strike, or preparing strike mandates for their constituents. Already, student associations representing 68,000 students, mostly from CÉGEPs, are on strike to protest the cuts. Now the Fédération universitaire du Québec, the largest student organization in Québec with 170,000 members, is calling on all of the student associations it represents to go on strike to protest the Liberals' decision.
The science and education student associations at the Université du Québec à Montréal have already voted yes to strike action.

Nick Vikander, FEUQ's vice-president of university affairs, said the situation is similar at the Université de Sherbrooke, Concordia University and the Université de Montréal, where general assemblies are being organized to vote on whether or not to strike.

"We think this is what it takes at this point, with the budget three-four weeks away," he said. "We've gone through everything except for this."

FEUQ's call to action comes the morning after the group held a press conference outside the minister of education's Montréal offices. About an hour after FEUQ left the site, roughly 20 students, allegedly from CÉGEP du Vieux Montréal, entered the building and vandalized the offices. Police escorted the students from the premises.

Fournier met with representatives from FEUQ over a week ago to discuss the loans and bursaries program. Fournier's spokesperson, Stéphane Gosselin, said the talks were productive, but a date for future meetings has not been set. He said the call to strike would not help negotiations between the two parties.

"Whenever you're in dialogue with someone, it's better that there not be in an atmosphere of confrontation," he said. "But we have to be clear on certain things: putting the $103 million back is not even on the radar; presently the minister is working on solutions for student debt."

According to FEUQ's numbers, 75,000 students have been directly affected by the cuts; their student loans doubled in one year. FEUQ recently conducted a poll that showed 75 per cent of Quebecers disagree with the Liberal government's decision to cut from the bursaries program.

Gosselin did not rule out that a portion of the $103 million would be put back.

FEUQ have a demonstration planned for Mar. 16, and Vikander said other actions are in the works. The last Québec university student strike of the magnitude FEUQ is calling for occurred in 1968.

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