Two UQAM student associations vote for an indefinite general strike


At least two UQAM student associations voted for an indefinite general strike on Thursday in support of teaching interns, a protest movement that is gaining followers in several universities.

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“The whole student community is very worried right now,” said Simone Tremblay Benoit, member of the executive of the Faculty Association of Political Science and Law (AFESPED) at UQAM.

This association is one of those who have embarked on the wind of mobilization in support of teaching students who are at risk of failing their internship for having themselves gone on strike from mid-October to mid-November. They then demanded a salary and better internship conditions.

The dispute ended on November 16, but a decision by UQAM’s Board of Directors has set the fire to the fire: the internship days that were missed due to the strike will have to be resumed this fall, placing several students in a situation of abandonment and possibly forcing them to resume their internship in a later semester.

Snowball

Since then, several student associations that were not involved in the original movement have decided to hold strike votes to put pressure on the administration, even if the teaching students (ADEESE) decided on Wednesday not to return to strike.

On Thursday, the student faculty association of human sciences (AFESH) and that of the arts (AFEA) of UQAM both voted for an indefinite general strike.

Another UQAM group, that of students in political science and law (AFESPED), also held a strike vote on Thursday. As of press time, the outcome of that vote was not yet known.

Language and communication students (AFELC) from UQAM will meet next Monday.

Students from various programs at other universities also held a one-day strike on Wednesday, such as those in psychoeducation at the University of Montreal and social work at the University of Quebec in Outaouais.

“It’s scary”

For the students interviewed, UQAM’s decision is seen as a “punishment” and as a precedent in terms of repression of student democracy.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen such severe return conditions,” explains Samy-Jane Tremblay, president of the Quebec Student Union, who recalls that even during the maple spring of 2012, the conditions were not as tough as the strike had lasted longer.

“It’s scary. It is the right to strike that is under attack”, sums up Rémi Grenier of AFESPED. “It just makes us feel even more united,” says Mr. Grenier.

On the student side, we are talking about some 750 aspiring teachers who would be affected. On the UQAM side, the figure is estimated at less than 40 people.

Case by case

For the administration, it is a question of respecting “the objectives of quality and conformity of the training”, explains by email Caroline Tessier of the Service of the communications.

“Inaccuracies have circulated on these measures, in particular on the Abandonment measure for internships […] We are currently analyzing problematic situations on a case-by-case basis,” she explains.

As for the decision of certain student associations to adopt an unlimited general strike mandate, “the University finds it difficult to explain this result,” adds Ms. Tessier. “We are deeply disappointed.”

At the time of publication, Le Journal had not been able to speak to representatives of AFESH, AFÉA or ADEESE-UQAM.




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