A semi-regular column I write for Critic Te Arohi, summing up various movements and actions in the world of students, education and working class youth. You can find it on the Critic’s website here.
Look at that, four months have passed already! It’s been an active year thus far; students are still getting themselves into strikes, riots, killings, and occasionally a victory. So maybe it’s worth keeping half an eye on what those damned young radicals are up to an island, country, or continent away.
1,200 on half-day strike at Auckland University, NZ
Academic and general staff walked out for four hours in mid-March as part of a long running pay dispute over the next collective contract. The union are aiming for a 1.2% pay increase, followed the year after by a $1,200 raise for higher payed staff and $3,500 raise for staff in lower pay brackets. 300 strikers were joined by students for a boisterous but uneventful rally on campus.
Far Right Attacks on Dalit Students, India
Dalit students at Delhi University have blamed members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for multiple assaults on campus in January and February. This comes after a prolonged campaign across India sparked by multiple high profile suicides of Dalit students. The AVBP are a student wing affiliated to the hardline Hindutva nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, itself closely aligned to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Elsewhere major clashes have also occurred at Panjab University in Chandigarh in early April between students and police, involving teargas, watercannons and baton charges. The campus has seen weeks of unrest over a round of steep fee hikes, which are set to continue.
Strike wave followed by 24-hour general strike, Argentina
Argentina has repeatedly ground to a halt as rolling national strikes in various sectors, including a two-day teacher strike in March, were rounded off by a 24-hour general strike in the capital Buenos Aires on April 6th. It is a major challenge to the government of President Mauricio Macri, with upcoming elections this year. Ongoing strikes have been especially widespread in the Buenos Aries province, with marchers numbered in the tens of thousands in the provincial capital of La Plata. The strike wave was sparked by job cuts, lifting of import restrictions, union busting, and various other free market policies under the centre-right government. Provincial governor and close Macri ally Maria Vidal has responded to the strikes with a threat to levy fines against striking.
Riots over police brutality in the Parisian Banlieues, France
Weeks of rioting over multiple incidents of police brutality reignited after the killing of local Parisian Chinese man Liu Shaoyo in his home on March 27th. Sporadic large-scale clashes ran over several nights, continuing two years of political unrest around state repression and labour law reform. High schools were blockaded by students throughout March while student strikes have, on and off, been held at several campuses in the capital.
Mass sacking & med students strike, Kenya
The government has threatened the sacking of 134 teachers over a three-month strike in Nairobi, while medical students were ordered to end their own strike in order to break their teachers strike and return to class. The dispute over pay grievances had halted classes at 33 institutions, until it was finally resolved in mid-March with education workers winning a 17.5% pay rise. Public university staff had been on strike since January 19 when an already negotiated increase in pay and improvement in conditions failed to materialise on time.
Education reform protests and ‘Day of the Young Combatant’, Chile
National demonstrations, the largest of which in Santiago numbered in the tens of thousands, took place on April 11, demanded reforms against tertiary education privatisation. The current government under President Michelle Bachelet has scaled down promises of widespread reforms to tackle rising fees. Meanwhile violent clashes between riot police and young people occurred on the night of March 29-30 marking the Day of the Young Combatant, an annual commemoration of dissidents killed since the 1973 military coup and under successive governments after the regimes fall.
Student killed in mob attack, Pakistan
At the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan in early April, 23 year-old journalism student Marshall Khan was killed in mob violence after accusations of blasphemy. Various civil societies have organised protests over the killing in the weeks since, with demonstrations across the country.
Mass demonstrations against university closure in Budapest, Hungary
Students have demanded the proposed closure of the Central European University (CEU) be stalled, after new legislation toughened licensing awards for foreign-based universities, making the closure of the CEU likely. The movement is another in a long line of recent Hungarian movements over issues as diverse as internet freedom, curbs to democratic institutions, economic reforms, and the strict immigration policy under the right-wing Fidesz government of President Viktor Orbán.