IYSSE online meeting calls for European-wide general strike against school openings

On February 1, more than 300 participated in the online meeting of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) on the theme: “For a European-wide general strike against school openings.” The meeting sent a strong signal for building independent action committees of students, teachers and workers to enforce […]

On February 1, more than 300 participated in the online meeting of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) on the theme: “For a European-wide general strike against school openings.” The meeting sent a strong signal for building independent action committees of students, teachers and workers to enforce effective protective measures against the pandemic.

The online meeting took place at a time when more than 100 million people worldwide had contracted SARS-CoV-2 and the number of deaths from the virus exceeded 2.2 million. “Since the beginning of the year, there have officially been almost 20,000 COVID deaths in Germany alone,” said a statement adopted by the Safe Education Action Committee Network a few days before the meeting. “This is anything but a natural disaster,” stressed Christoph Vandreier, deputy chair of the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) and an SGP parliamentary candidate, in his introductory speech. “It is the result of policies that sacrifice health and life for the private profit of a financial oligarchy.”

IYSSE event: For a Europe-wide general strike against the opening of schools

At the meeting, several students spoke about their experiences of reckless school openings amid the pandemic. Meret, an 18-year-old high school student from Bremen, reported from her city that at the beginning of the year, all 10th to 13th grades were forced into attending classes in person. In her part-time job in geriatric care, she had experienced that no less than six residents had died from COVID-19. This made her think about “what measures the government failed to take that would have been necessary to prevent exactly that.”

Meret said students had realised that “the politicians did not and would not take care of us.” The system was showing in the pandemic “what it actually cares about. And the answer is not human lives or our well-being—but profits.”

This was confirmed by several other students from Nuremberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Saxony. In Nuremberg, thousands of students went on strike against face-to-face classes that the state government wanted to force on them.

Nursery teachers and workers from other sectors also supported the demands of the online event. For example, Thomas Schrödl, a tram driver and SGP candidate for the Bundestag (federal parliament) in Bavaria, reported that more than 30 of his fellow transit workers had already died in London in the first coronavirus wave and that a tram driver in Berlin had also succumbed to COVID-19 at the end of December. Since the reopening of schools in Bavaria, he had seen buses and trams filled with children and young people again. Workers still had “their fist in their pocket,” but they were following the student strikes with great interest.

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