Updates from Nanterre

Some of today's events at Nanterre

Submitted by jef costello on November 12, 2007

The day began badly with the university authorities calling the police. Around 100 Gendarmes were used to break the blockade, tear gas and batons were used on the picketers. There were no arrests, the police satisfying themselves with hitting a few people, although there do not appear to have been any serious injuries.

The Assemblée générale was very heated with a large group of pro-Sarkozy spoilers who made very aggressive statments and tried to drown out other speakers. The student branch of the UMP (Sarkozy's party) tried to mobilise its members to vote against the strike. The division between faculties was shown when teachers from the law department ordered students to leave lessons early to go and vote against strike action.

The AG voted on four motions:

To demand the repeal of the law on university autonomy.
To march upon the administration building in protest at the use of police
To join the demonstrations on Wednesday.
To continue the strike and blockades.

The first three were passed resoundingly, the final one was agreed with a majority vote of 900 for and 500 against.

The strike committee meeting was held later on in the afternoon. At the beginning there were some 250 students this increased to about 350 over the course of the meeting with few leaving until towards the end. In total around 450 students attended part of the meeting.

Several militants addressed the meeting, giving information on other universities, reading out the false press releases put out by the administration and suggesting action. There were several speakers from the floor as well. After about an hour and a half the meeting was ended, five commissions were proposed: press, leaflets, pickets, internal actions and external actions. A space was designated for each commission and students then joined whichever commission they wanted.

The press releases from the university administration claimed that the police were called as a preventative measure after two picketers viciously assaulted a staff member. According to comrades who were present there was a bit of a scuffle with a security guard who wanted to stop two people from blocking a door. No one was hurt and the incident was over in seconds. The administration also claimed that picketers had blockaded the entire building when in fact, as is standard practise, they had blockaded all of the entrances except for one, this entrance could be used by staff who needed to go in and out for administrative reasons.

The press releases also made the fraudulent claims that large numbers of rail-workers had packed the previous AG (there was one delegate there) and that students were a minority in the movement which is patently false.

The need to act immediately to take the buildings was very strongly expressed by most of the speakers. Nanterre is a suburb of Paris and dependent on the public transport system, with a transport strike due to begin the blockade risks being isolated so many argued for an immediate occupation of the university buildings to send a clear message while it was still possible to do so. The need to spread the struggle was another prominent theme with many talking of solidarity actions with other workers, specifically occupying stations to support rail workers. The need to organise actions outside of the university, especially once the transport strikes cut the university off, was very apparent leading to many proposals of action in Paris.

One student from the law faculty got up and thanked those present for voting for the strike, saying that most of the law students were against it and she was glad that they hadn't been allowed to break the strike.

One of the speakers called for a vote at the next meeting for a strike to last until the repeal of the law as had been done earlier in the day at Rennes II. He argued that there was a risk that either the UMP/law students could succeed in packing out a meeting while militants were diverted by police or engaged in actions elsewhere and win an anti-strike vote, or that they could hold their own AG and vote through anti-blockade measures. This measure did not seem to win wide approval. Anti-strike posters that had been found were also passed around the meeting.