A Call for Students to Organize and Win!
Friends and Comrades,
We are students and campus workers–fellow workers all–who write to you and call for diverse acts of dissent against the Ford Regime.
We call for this as we stand, not just against the Ford Government’s cuts, but also for a wider vision of what education in so-called Ontario could be, should be.To us, these acts must coalesce into a wider force against the status quo–not just to restore what Ford and his like have taken, but to fight for a better world for all students, all workers, all who strive to survive against the crush of capitalism and nationalism that this government represents.
What is a Student?
The student is themselves a worker. This has been the position of the radical student movement since 1946. As stated in La Charte de Grenoble, French students put forward this notion with the belief that students has the right “to work and rest in the best conditions and to material independence, both personal and social” and must in turn “defend freedom against all oppression, which…is the most sacred mission”.
In Ontario, we have seen the conditions of students are being pushed into decline and that costs for education continue to rise ever higher. Meanwhile, freedom to dissent and protest–common to all struggle–are being policed and repressed all across Ontario, while oppression against marginalized students is protected by the State.
The Student in Ontario then is a worker and an organizer. Students and all other workers together can bring about the end of their oppression–through education and organization.
Together, we can build for strikes on campus of all workers and towards an Unlimited General Strike.
What is University and College?
We all share an idea of what they should be and could be. Our institutions of education are where people of all background go to gain new skills and understandings that enrich their lives and, in turn, enrich society.
In reality, it’s become where workers are expected to take on massive debts in the name of enriching the profits of companies who rely on and further the exploitation of skilled labour.
Increasingly, elite capitalist donors and their corrupt board of directors have turned our institutions into casinos where the rich gamble away the future of young workers and generations to come. These spaces should be democratically controlled by those who make up these spaces, those who make them run–workers. And, as we have said already, students too are workers and deserve a fair say in how universities and colleges are run.
What is a Union?
A union is where we realize that there will always be more of us than there could ever be of them. The union is where we unite to build our voice and our power, not to ask, but to tell the ruling class that it’s over, and we’re taking it all back. A true union for students and all other campus workers would bring us together to take back control of every classroom, every support service, every inch of campus that the ruling class dominates.
Under syndicalist principles, the union aims to be horizontal–with power distributed to all members through processes of direct democracy. A true union of students and other campus workers is to be member led–with general meetings to decide goals, strategies, and tactics. Many organizations have claimed to be unions for students–but so many have abandoned student syndicalism and slumbered. But, with the increasing attacks on education (and everything else) in Ontario, we must wake from our slumber and build unions with the capacity to strike.
What is a Strike?
“The capitalist has no heart, but strike him in the pocketbook and you will draw blood!”. These words by famous IWW organizer Bill Haywood say it all. The strike is an economic disruption that shakes the very pillars of the capitalist system. Pro business & anti-worker media will claim that students aren’t workers and can’t go on strike. That it won’t have any effect because they don’t work in a factory or some other lazy reasoning. In 2012, all these claims fell apart once the Quebec ruling class faced the disruption of 200,000 students engaging in strike actions including economic disruptions against banks and other Liberal party investors. Not to mention nightly demonstrations that stretched provincial and city police to their breaking point. The strike hits them where it hurts.
The strike is not simply walking a picket line, but a campaign of disruption at every level and through diverse tactics that workers themselves autonomously determine. This is not just about raising our voices, but bringing our words into material consequences. As famed student organizer Mario Savio once said:There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus — and you’ve got to make it stop!
Where do we start?
Before we can make it stop through rallies, protests, and other actions… we must address the fact that our current “student unions” are corrupt, top down sock puppet institutions being used as a training ground for the established anti-worker political parties. All subsidized by your debt. Students as workers, deserve a voice, and it should be none other than their own.
For inspiration, we can look to ASSE in Quebec who for the last 15 years have upheld a syndicalist student movement with horizontal structures, direct democracy, and mandates established through general assemblies. We can look to CUTE (also in Quebec) who are currently organizing students under the revolutionary idea that students are workers and ought not only to be kept debt free, but paid for their contributions to the ever growing supply of educated workers. We can look to older student organizations, like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Canadian Union of Students (CUS), who have attempted before to bring student syndicalism to life in the streets.
In short, we must agitate, educate, innoculate, organize, unite.
- Agitate: Talk to each other, hand out leaflets, put up posters, make infographics, videos, and any content that points out the awful situation we’re all in.
- Educate: Hold organizer trainings and workshops on how to form member led unions and how to build strikes.
- Inoculate: Prepare students to defend against the backlash from the corrupt student unions.
- Organize: Form student groups to begin building & advocating for a syndicalist student movement
Fellow Workers, the time is now! On every campus and every street, we strike!
— IWW General Defence Committee, Local 6 (Ottawa)
Motion For This Position:
- The Ontario government has announced massive cuts to education including attacks on student representation and access for low income students
- No one should be punished with debt for seeking the education and skills needed to participate in an ever advancing technical society
- Elite capitalist donors and their corrupt board of directors control the development of our education, and by extension, our future.
- Students are workers. Whether as interns or not, students deserve and require compensation for the academic training and work needed to participate in modern society
- Students ought to be organized along industrial lines–with all other workers under syndicalist principles of direct democracy and horizontal institutions as enjoyed by students in Quebec’s ASSE and CUTE.
- We invite students as workers, and campus workers to form revolutionary syndicalist industrial union branches under IU620 with organizer trainings provided by the IWW.
- In the tradition of revolutionary syndicalism, we aim to organize and achieve the following goals.
- Abolition of tuition fees with no barriers to access
- Immediate cancellation of all student debt
- Abolish unpaid internships
- Wages for all students
- Abolition of the corrupt board of directors
- Worker control of all institutions of education
- We call for an unlimited general strike in all institutions of education, including but not limited to high schools, universities, colleges, and all other such institutionsuntil each of these goals are met.