THE continuing Egyptian revolution – in particular the determined occupations of Tahrir Square and the fearless struggle of Egypt’s workers for their rights – has had a worldwide revolutionary impact.
The Tahrir Square occupations inspired youth and workers all over the world from Greece to Spain and Portugal, and from the UK to Wall Street, Seattle, Montreal and Quebec.
In the US this movement has inspired and even merged with the workers’ movement in a common revolt against Wall Street capitalists, giving the workers’ movement renewed life – as the successful Longshoremen’s struggle in Longview, Seattle emphasised. There are now numerous class actions taking place throughout the US and Canada.
In Canada the student movement has taken to the streets to battle university tuition fees. The demonstrations have been met by massive capitalist state violence that has inflamed the struggle and not subdued it.
Students marched in night demonstrations in Montreal and Quebec City last Saturday when 700 were arrested and an emergency law banning demonstrations within 50 yards of universities was introduced by the Quebec provincial government. More than 1,000 arrests were made during last week following the passage of Bill 78, the emergency law.
Students insist that the tuition fees and the emergency law must be withdrawn. The Quebec government insists that this will not happen. Quebec is raising tuition fees by 80%, in £160 a year increases for the next seven years. Over 2,500 arrests have been made since the protests began in February, and about 165,000 students have been boycotting classes.
The international nature of the struggle was emphasised last Wednesday in Montreal when several thousand demonstrators flooded the central square of Quebec’s largest city only to be penned in by police using the UK ‘kettling’ tactic. The authorities invoked Bill 78, which requires eight hours notification before public demonstrations, and requires marches to follow pre-approved routes, with demonstrations within 50 yards of university buildings illegal.
Leo Bureau-Blouin, the leader of the student group FECQ, said he expected the law would make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, adding: ‘We are doing this because we are genuinely worried that basic important rights such as freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to hold peaceful demonstrations are being attacked.’
Student leaders blocking access to university buildings are to be fined as much as $35,000 (£22,000), while student groups face penalties of up to $125,000.
At the same time, the Canadian Federal government is taking on Canadian Pacific rail workers and has introduced legislation to force striking workers back to work. Almost 5,000 staff took action against the slashing of their pensions at midnight last Wednesday, bringing traffic to a halt on 24,000km (14,900 miles) of track.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said the shutdown of Canadian Pacific’s freight service was hurting the economy. ‘This strike can’t go on,’ Raitt told parliament. ‘We need to get the trains running again.’
This is the fifth time in the past year the federal government has moved decisively to end labour disputes, threatening to put an end to the right to strike.
The legislation to order CP employees back to work will see the government appoint an arbitrator to ‘resolve’ the outstanding disputes between management and the Teamsters, with a pro-boss diktat.
The student and rail workers’ actions have the support of the entire working class, as the bosses and their governments seek to resolve their crisis by destroying working class and middle class living standards, education and basic rights.
What is beginning to emerge all over North America are the conditions for carrying out socialist revolutions, where the working class and the youth put an end to capitalism as the only way to secure their future.