Grass­roots move­ments for re­mu­ner­a­tion must be re­spected

The McGill Daily - - Contents - —The Mcgill Daily Edi­to­rial Board

On Novem­ber 10, more than 15,000 stu­dents went on strike to fight for the re­mu­ner­a­tion of all in­tern­ships. Shortly af­ter the suc­cess­ful stu­dent strike, Cam­pagne de reven­di­ca­tion et d’ac­tions in­teruni­ver­si­taires pour les étu­di­ants et étu­di­antes d’éd­u­ca­tion en stage (cam­paign for in­teruni­ver­sity ad­vo­cat­ing and ac­tion for stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents in in­tern­ships, or CRAIES) and the Que­bec Stu­dent Union (QSU) par­tic­i­pated in a press con­fer­ence dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of financial com­pen­sa­tion for ed­u­ca­tion-stu­dent in­tern­ships. Dur­ing the press con­fer­ence, QSU Pres­i­dent Si­mon Telles ref­er­enced the Novem­ber 10 strike to stress the im­por­tance of the is­sue, stat­ing that the QSU “ex­pressed [their] sol­i­dar­ity to all that are mo­bi­liz­ing to get a just financial com­pen­sa­tion for the work done through in­tern­ships [and] CRAIES’S work.”

That same day, Que­bec’s National Assem­bly unan­i­mously passed a mo­tion call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to con­sider a financial com­pen­sa­tion pol­icy for in­tern­ships for ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents in their fi­nal year. In re­sponse, Min­is­ter of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Hélène David pub­licly rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of fur­ther dis­cus­sion. The high pro­file of this is­sue is largely due to the mo­bi­liza­tion on Novem­ber 10, which pres­sured the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the is­sue of un­paid in­tern­ships. While the pol­icy for ed­u­ca­tion in­tern­ships is a step in the right di­rec­tion, we must rec­og­nize that this is mainly the re­sult of long­stand­ing grass­roots ini­tia­tives spear­headed by the Comités uni­taires sur le tra­vail étu­di­ant [Uni­tary Com­mit­tees on Stu­dent Labour] (CUTE), along­side other coali­tions.

It is im­por­tant that grad­u­at­ing ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents re­ceive stipends, but or­ga­ni­za­tions must rec­og­nize and re­spect the labour of the grass­roots ini­tia­tives from which they ben­e­fit. The work of CUTE and other or­ga­ni­za­tions ben­e­fits all in­terns, in­clud­ing ad­vo­cacy groups like CRAIES, who gain a higher pro­file and in­creased mo­men­tum for their pub­lic aware­ness work. In ad­vo­cat­ing for stipends for ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents, CRAIES must be mind­ful not to mis­con­strue the long­stand­ing ef­forts of CUTE and other coali­tions in their en­deav­ors. The Novem­ber 10 de­mands, backed by 15,000 stu­dents, con­cern not only mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion, but also in­clu­sion in the labour code. This en­tails full com­pen­sa­tion, at min­i­mum wage or above, in­clud­ing ben­e­fits and job se­cu­rity. This ap­plies to pro­grams where manda­tory in­tern­ships are of­ten un­paid, as well as in­tern­ships that fall out­side the scope of manda­tory train­ing. Re­duc­ing the con­ver­sa­tion to a spe­cific de­mand for stipends risks co- opt­ing the work of grass­roots move­ments. This was it­er­ated in a state­ment re­leased by the As­so­ci­a­tion for the Voice of Ed­u­ca­tion in Que­bec (AVEQ). Ef­forts on be­half of cer­tain in­ter­est groups should work in tan­dem with the larger move­ment of which they are a part.

It is im­por­tant that stu­dents rec­og­nize the value of their own labour. Like CUTE, AVEQ works to se­cure fair wages and ben­e­fits for this labour, to the ad­van­tage of all Mcgill stu­dents. Yet de­spite Mcgill’s ob­server sta­tus at AVEQ, SSMU has de­layed having po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion with the stu­dent union. In do­ing so, we risk co-opt­ing their ef­forts, ben­e­fit­ing from their ad­vo­cacy with­out ad­vanc­ing the cause of Que­be­cois stu­dents as a whole. Thus, we as stu­dents must en­sure that SSMU sup­ports AVEQ and CUTE, and stand up for all stu­dents’ rights.

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