Michael Bouchez, CWI Belgium
This generation thinks the neoliberal approach – putting the responsibility with consumers – has failed.
The second ‘school strike for the climate’ on 17 January assembled 14,000 students in Brussels, after 2,000 demonstrated the week before.
The idea spread like wildfire when two students called for ‘Thursday strikes’ on social media. Students in Walloon students have walked out too.
A big sense of urgency is part of the mood. They say, “what good is school, if there is no future”.
One student said: “Our only means to put pressure [on the government] is to not go to classes, in the same way workers decide to go on strike”.
There are almost no slogans calling for individual efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.
They know something has to be done to the big polluters. Just 300 Belgian companies emit 40% of greenhouse gases.
One of our slogans, “international resistance, against the pollution of capital”, was shouted throughout the whole demonstration.
Étudiants de Gauche Actifs – Actief Linkse Studenten (Active Left Students) calls for school student committees and open assemblies to organise the movement.
There will be a big march on 27 Janaury and an international school strike on 15 March.
Trade unions have walked out of wage negotiations and called a general strike for 13 February.
We put forward concrete demands so the movement is armed against vague government promises. The demand for free, more frequent and better public transport has a huge resonance.
We call for the nationalisation of the energy sector with democratic control and ownership of science and technology to massively invest in green energy and create green jobs.
Neoliberal politicians will likely find these demands ‘unrealistic’. This is because they defend the multinationals and shareholders’ interests, for whom our future on this planet is subordinate to their profits.
Max Klinkner, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI Germany – SAV)
School student strikes have spread. Students ask: why should we learn for a future that is being destroyed?
In Germany, school student strikes took place in over 50 cities on 18 January. In Mainz, (a city of 215,000 inhabitants) SAV and Left Youth helped to organise a protest of 1,600 people.
SAV and Left Youth took part in the discussions in advance of the walkouts and proposed demands. It was agreed that ecological and economic questions must be linked, coal industry workers must not be forgotten, and there must be free retraining programmes and guaranteed continued employment, without wage cuts, for those workers. Companies that have made big profits destroying the environment should pay for that.
Ecological reconstruction requires free local public transport, a major expansion of rail lines and an increase in the frequency of services for a start.
SAV and Left Youth member Caspar spoke on behalf of Mainz student representatives. We’re protesting “not because, as some of us have already been accused, we are yuppie-ecos who like to shop in expensive organic shops and insult everyone as climate sinners who do not feed on soybeans, but because our lives are being sold for profits!”
Left Youth had a strong presence with flags and leaflets at the demonstration. The SAV leaflet demanded the nationalisation of RWE electric company.
It’s important the pressure continues to be built. Only through mass protests and strikes, which do not neglect the economic questions but demand public ownership of the major monopolies, will ecological upheaval be possible.
- Max is the Rhineland-Palatinate state spokesperson for Linksjugend Solid (Left Youth)