The Student: “Our dreams are no one’s property”

Report on the radical student movement in Chile. Reprinted from The Student Issue 4 by We Are The University (Wellington)

For close to a year now, the students of Chile have been in open revolt. Demanding free education from pre-school to tertiary level, students in Chile have organised the largest social movement the country has seen since the fall of the return to democracy two decades ago.

Mass demonstrations, nationwide general strikes, militant occupations and blockades of schools and universities, sit-ins, “kiss-ins”, mass flash-mob renditions of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, and of course, water cannons, tear gas, running battles with carabinero militarized police; these are the hallmarks of the Chilean student movement. Its goals, though multifaceted, have been clear: greater student control over education, an end to cuts in the education sector and to private profiteering, free education for all. In the words of a popular slogan: “Fin al lucro en la educacion, nuestros sueños no les pertenecen.” Education is not for profit; our dreams are no one’s property. [Read more…]

Two tactics of trade unionism in the face of global economic downturn

– Tim Bowron and Nick Kelly

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Photos: ANEF (Chile)

On Monday November 17 over 400 000 public sector workers in Chile began an indefinite nationwide strike demanding a 14.5% pay increase to combat spiralling inflation (9.9% in the last year alone) and the rising cost of living. This was in response to the refusal of the centre-left “Concertación” government of Michelle Bachelet to significantly revise its original 5% wage offer since a 48 hour strike by public sector workers last week.

Meanwhile here in New Zealand where workers are also currently faced with a decline in real wages as well as the prospect of mass redundancies, the Public Servants Association has put out a grovelling press statement praising the incoming National government for its willingness to “engage” with them and offering to provide “constructive suggestions” to National’s promised review of government expenditure:

[Read more…]