Teachers and Students Resist the Ford Government's Anti-Social Offensive

The Ford government believes it can divide teachers and education workers by specifically targeting secondary teachers and education workers at this time. The attack is spearheaded with restructuring of class sizes and imposing new minimum on-line learning requirements for students in high school.

In doing so, the ruling class is attacking all teachers, education workers, the entire working people and youth of Ontario. The working conditions of teachers and education workers at all levels are their students' learning conditions. Teachers have adopted the action of wearing Red for Education as a sign of resistance and solidarity showing the common cause amongst the teachers and education workers to defend their rights and the right to education for all at the highest level society has attained.

Since the neo-liberal assaults began on public education in the 1990s by the Bob Rae NDP, followed by the Harris and Eves PCs, McGuinty and Wynne Liberals and now the Ford PCs, teachers and education workers have led the resistance in defence of their rights and those of their students. Teachers know from experience that privatization and destruction of public education are attacks on the right to education for all. In leading this resistance they know they are defending their students. The same is the case today with the resistance to the Ford government's anti-social offensive.

In Ontario, the NDP government of Bob Rae ripped up the post-war labour relations regime by imposing neo-liberal contracts on teachers and other education workers to extract money from public education to pay the rich, without the agreement or consent of those who provide the education. This was not accepted by the working people who felt betrayed by the NDP and refused to re-elect them.

The Harris PC government that came to power followed suit using its legislative majority to ram through massive attacks on education and those who provide it, while criminalizing any resistance to their agenda. This too was met with resistance including Days of Action in which the working class shut down major economic centres of the province from Windsor to Sudbury to affirm their power, rights and demands for a new direction.

In 2003, the McGuinty Liberals were brought in to achieve labour peace until the ruling class decided it could once again proceed with its anti-social offensive. Their mantra was to establish a more fair way to impose the theft of public funds to pay the rich by spreading the attacks around and trying to get the people's consent to this anti-social direction.

The Liberals, joined by the Hudak PCs, launched a new all-out assault with Bill 115. At that time however, neither party had a legislative majority and each wanted to lead the march to austerity. At each step the ruling class was faced with the resistance of the people and especially teachers and education workers. This came to a head when the Liberal Party of McGuinty was brought to its knees in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election after attacking education workers.

Neither McGuinty nor Hudak could gain a majority from which to criminalize the movement for education and workers' rights that had emerged. The ruling class selected Wynne to lead the Liberal Party to buy another period of peace until they could sort out how to achieve what they could not with Bill 115. They brought in provincial bargaining and prepared the ground for what was to come next, the Ford government. The ruling class now believe they have the bull in the China shop, which can follow through on their threats to make Ontario education open for business profit.

The ruling elite have refused to accept the widely held public opinion which calls for increased investments in education to ensure the right to education for all, and to meet the demand of a modern economy for educated workers who can then work to guarantee the well-being of all, including themselves, and open a path forward for society.

Public opinion for increased investments in public education in defence of education as a right for all and that workers' rights must be respected is well entrenched. Public opinion holds that education and health care should not be sectors open for business profit. The frustration of the ruling elite with this reality can be heard in the threats of Premier Ford against teachers and education workers telling them they dare not protest his attacks on their rights and those of their students. He is defying the teachers to resist, which they are already doing, so that he can invoke emergency powers to once again impose contracts and force teachers to give up their resistance to his anti-social offensive. Ford's provocative words show that the ruling class want a confrontation, which they believe they can win by using their police powers. They have no political or moral arguments to justify their actions, yet they have the power to do so according to the cartel party system of governance, which has given the PCs a majority of seats in the Legislature. It is medieval and undemocratic and the working people refuse to accept this dictate.

The working people including teachers and education workers have great experience in how to mobilize public opinion. The fact that the resistance to Ford's anti-social measures has been immediate and widespread including the movement of the youth and students themselves walking out of classes in political protests shows that the anti-social offensive will not be accepted.

This article was published in

Number 11 - March 28, 2019

Article Link:
Teachers and Students Resist the Ford Government's Anti-Social Offensive - Enver Villamizar


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