by Robbie Mahood (March 13, 2020)
Among the mass protests that erupted in various parts of the globe in 2019, the case of Chile is outstanding.
Chile has long been regarded as a neoliberal success story, a country that had left behind the brutal years of the Pinochet dictatorship and carried out a “democratic transition”, with the return of civilian rule after 1990.
But the fundamentals of Pinochet’s 1980 constitution were left intact. The major political parties, whether of the left or the right, have alternated in power with the tacit agreement that there would be no serious questioning of the economic and social legacy of the Pinochet era, i.e., Chile-style neoliberalism.
Continue reading Chile in the vanguard of world-wide protests
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As temperatures plunge, the conflict between Ontario teachers and the Doug Ford Conservative government is heating up.
With exaggerated budget deficit figures in tow, the Tories decided to pick a fight with educators by increasing the size of classes and requiring students to take online credit courses, the overall result of which would be the loss of thousands of teachers’ jobs. Like so many of the savage cuts made by Ford to health, transportation, environmental protection, legal aid and other vital public services, his education measures violate his pre-election vow that there’d be no job losses, only “efficiencies.”
To top it off, the Tories passed Bill 124, a salary cap of 1 per cent imposed on the entire public sector. The four teachers’ unions (OSSTF, ETFO, OECTA and AEFO) are taking the government to court. The Tories are likely to lose, based on recent rulings which struck down laws (e.g. the 2012 provincial Liberals’ Bill 115) that abrogated collective bargaining rights. Unfortunately, it will take years to get a definitive high court ruling, and possibly decades to reverse the harm that may be done in the interim.
Continue reading Bill 124 Heats Up Ontario Education Conflict
by Emily Steers
Three years ago, a group of graduate teaching assistants began a campaign to unionize the TAs at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, about 100 km west of Toronto. Laurier was one of the only Ontario universities where TAs lacked a union. This was reflected in the disparity in our pay, training, and the consistency of work between departments. For two years the TAs worked diligently to spread the word and boost the union drive, and chose the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as the union to join.
Since September, the drive picked up in earnest. Campaign organizers visited classrooms, set up information tables, created an active social media presence, and distributed union cards. Once we met the requisite 40 per cent of workers who signed cards, we filed for certification, asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to conduct a vote. It took place online, November 5-6. There was a massive turnout. The employer contested the legitimacy of the vote, padding the employee list and filing a section 8.1 objection (disputing that we met the 40 per cent threshold). The union challenged over 50 names on the employers’ list.
Continue reading Laurier Teaching Assistants Unionize!
Video of each of the sessions at the Education for Activists conference, November 15-16, 2019 in Toronto is now available!
Working class politics — The crisis of the labour movement, lessons of the federal election, and a strategy to win.
Speakers: Dirka Prout, NDP candidate in London North-Centre; Barry Weisleder, federal secretary of Socialist Action Canada and Yvonne Hanson, NDP candidate in Vancouver Granville.
Capitalism versus Life on Earth. Is the answer the ‘free’ market, green capitalism, or mass anti-capitalist action?
Speakers: Ian Angus, editor, Climate and Capitalism; Gary Porter, leading member of SA based in Victoria, B.C.; Yvonne Hanson, NDP candidate in Vancouver Granville.
The Next Great Recession — The business cycle, decline in the rate of profit, and the socialist alternative.
Speakers: Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer, journalist, Montreal-based coordinator of Disruption Network Canada; John Clarke, founding member of Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, and Jeff Mackler, national secretary, Socialist Action-USA, and Rebecca Keetch, worker at GM Plant in Oshawa and UNIFOR Local 222 Political Action Committee and Education Committee.
Imperialism, Origins and nature of the system. Are Russia and China imperialist?
Speakers: Jeff Mackler, socialist candidate for President of the United States, and Robbie Mahood, leading member of SA/LAS Canada based in Montreal.
This session will open with Giovanna Riccio reading her poem about the public campaign to ‘Take the Plant’ at GM Oshawa, and George Elliott Clarke, National Poet Laureate, 2016-17, with an anti-imperialist poem.