Account of the assemblée générale of staff at Nanterre university 27/11/07

The assemblée générale was attended by a total of around 130 staff, almost 30 of whom addressed the meeting. A student representative was also present.

Results

The meeting eventually voted on the following proposals:

For the meeting to go to the President's office and deliver a statement condemning the intervention of police on campus and the LRU law. Voted for unanimously

For the word abrogation (annulment) to be replaced with suspension (with regard to the LRU law). 7 for, 1 abstention, 3 non-votes and the rest against.

To reject the proposed 'statut'. 2 against, 7 abstentions, 1 non-vote and the rest for.

For strike action on the 29th and 30th. The action to be 'en présence' this means that teaching staff attend lessons but rather than teach they hold debates on the subject. (Sociology teachers had already voted for this action). 7 abstentions, 3 non-votes and the rest for.

To join the afternoon demonstration. Passed in the majority.

An amendment to the strike vote was then proposed, in view of the fact that non-teaching personnel were not covered by official notices of strike action and were in general in a more risky proposition. A new motion was proposed: firstly to demand that the two days be 'banalisé' (not counted as part of the school year) with the threat of a teachers strike, the second proposal was to announce a teachers' strike followed by a demand for the days to be 'banalisé' for other staff to allow them to participate in events. Only 5 people voted for the first proposal so the second was carried by a majority.

Debate

The meeting lasted about three hours, this is a brief summary of the debate that took place. Generally each paragraph will represent the contributionof a speaker and the following discussion.

The meeting began with the presentation of the text 'Pour une autre autonomie de l'université' (A different autonomy for universities) which had been written at an AG the previous day by teachers from the LLPHI (Languages and philosophy) UFR (department), copies were later passed around. The main demands were to propose a moratorium on the reforms and to debate other propositions. They offered space within their own building to house these debates. The general feeling of the meeting was that our focus, certainly initially, should be on the withdrawal of the law rather than trying to think of alternatives.

The next speaker was a delegate from BIATOSS (non-teaching stafff) who mentioned a letter from the eduction minister to BIATOSS staff. There were no copies available. She advocated a working group uniting all university personnel a proposition that was warmly received.

The next speaker talked of the basic need, to make it known that there is a movement against the law amongst staff at Nanterre. He pointed out that few teachers were striking and that the unions were not calling for strikes.

The next proposition was that each UFR should hold its own AG (like LLPHI or Sociology) to try to build a movement from the base. Arguing that small AGs such as the one we attended could not be considered as representative. This was also warmly received.

A practical contribution from a law teacher followed. As the law building is not blockaded and most lessons are taking place strike action by the couple of teachers present would be unfair and simply harm their students and would certainly be deeply counter-productive amongst those students. The strike needs to be a collective strike so that certain classes are not penalised.

A discussion on the CA (Conseil Administrative) was next, this is a council that makes many important decisions at the university. The statut that the president is trying to pass will cut the size of the committee from 60 to 30, leaving BIATOSS with only 3 representatives and students with 5 while 'external members' would have 8 seats. The BIATOSS staff voted against the statut in spite of heavy pressure and threats from the union that if they rejected a plan with a CA of 30 they could end up with a CA as small as 20. BIATOSS staff have also been forced into direct conflict with the students, finding themselves accused of organising the blockades if they fail to force their way through. Normally students leave an 'administrative entrance' for these staff but often then have to close these entry points when anti-blockade teachers or students try to force their way in. The problem of confrontation with students was highlighted although it was admitted that aggressive behaviour was a reaction to staff aggression. The BIATOSS staff were firmly against the use of police against students. They also demanded greater contact with the teaching staff, claiming that the unions had not even contacted them. The concentration of power in the hands of the president, especially in terms of awading bonuses was also highlighted as one of the negative effects of the LRU on staff.

The next speaker addressed the accusations that had been made that the blockades were anti-democratic. Firstly the blockades were voted for, secondly the law they are protesting against was voted through by the government without consultation during the summer 'dead time'. He also pointd out that the two concessions the government has offered, an increase in funding and the possibility of assisting students with damage deposits for housing do not address the students' basic demands. The accusations that the blockades are holding workers to ransom were not true as efforts were always made to allow entry to staff, this represents a government tactic of describing all strikers as holding innocent people to ransom.

A student representative gave a report form the national strike coordination meeting. 222 delegates had attended, ome non-mandated delegations had been refused and the UNEF student union had used this as a pretext to withdraw. However the UNEF itself had not been excluded and was welcome to participate but instead issued a press release announcing its willingness to negotiate. He repeated that the door was still open for the UNEF. He affirmed that the movement was not weakening nationally although different campuses were at different stages in struggle with some blockaded for a month and others blockaded for a matter of days. The problem of exhaustion had been a major discussion point at the meetings with the need to ensure students stayed radicalised and that teachers joined in their actions was needed to protect the movement. He also admitted that due to the transport strikes some of the more recent AG had not been representative. He told us that 128 lycées had held AG last Tuesday with many voting to strike and that over 200 had held AG nationwide on Thursday.

The next speaker spoke of the difficulty in increasing the movement, caused, at least in part, by the transport strikes. She argued that it was not enough to yet again vote for a text condemning the law, that after three weeks of strikes we had barely progressed. The need is to go out and radicalise colleagues, rather than expecting the students to blockade the campus indefinitely teachers needed to be organising themselves and coordinating efforts with students. She also proposed that we either produce or copy a text from Paris IX university that described the application of the law, a useful tool for explaining the ramifications of the law, that used direct quotations to back up its assertions. The need to launch an appeal for a massive movement against the law was absolutely necessary. These propositions were well received and added to by colleagues.

It was then proposed and agreed that rather than sending a delegation to give a statement to the president that all present should go to his office as a demonstration.

The following proposals were accepted as part of the statement with no disagreement:
A condemnation of the refusal of the Minister and the President to enter into dialogue.
A condemnation of the lack of consultation.
A condemnation of the non-recognition of legitimate student AGs and the attempts to criminalise students

other points were voted on at the end of the meeting.

The monopolisation of communication by the president (blocking access to email lists etc) was condemned and cited as something that must be circumvented to help spread the movement. This echoed the government's behaviour in trying to shut down discussion and communication to isolate te workers and that this lack of information had weakened responses and lowered militancy.

The tactic of calling for a suspension rather than the cancellation of the law was proposed as a method to encourage colleagues to join the movement.

The need to place direct pressure on the authorities and offer clear support to students was undelined by colleagues.

It was then reported that two colleagues from dramatic arts had declard themselves on strike that morning. A sociology teacher announced that the department had voted unanimously at AG to strike 'en présence' on the 29th and 30th. He also announced a film screening for the following day to be attended by the director.

There was some more discussion on whether to keep the term cancellation or use suspension. The last statement before the voting began was this: "The first manifestation of solidarity must be to keep the term cancellation, that they chose.".

Posted By

jef costello
Nov 28 2007 03:40

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Steven.
Dec 4 2007 11:34

cheers jef!