Group says strikes have common themes

In Halifax, people are becoming familiar with the implications of striking.

By Braeden Jones

February 1 photo of Student Rally
Student rally on February 1st (Braeden Jones photo)

In Halifax, people are becoming familiar with the implications of striking.

On Thursday February 15th, the Dalhousie Faculty Association passed a vote permitting the faculty to begin a strike as early as March 5th, should negotiations with the Board of Governors not succeed.

Two weeks ago, the Amalgamated Transit Union began to strike after negotiations failed with Halifax Regional Municipality Council.

Alia Saied works for the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group. She and NSPIRG have monitored the progress of pivotal strikes since the postal workers’ strike this past summer. “Rights for one is rights for all,” she said.

“The struggles of one group of people are usually not isolated. That’s the problem with oppression, it starts and then people are separated and start looking at problems as being theirs or not being theirs. And that can be so divisive in many ways. Coming together says that these issues affect all of us and we’re in society together,” said Saied.

Other organizations may also strike, including Capital Health, Halifax Water, Halifax Cabs, Commissionaires and Oland Brewery. They are all in negotiations with their respective employers and prepared to strike.

“Contracts don’t last long, so people feel insecure often and want to feel secure in the future. That’s why solidarity between unions is so important,” said Saied.

She also mentioned the solidarity offered to the students rallying for lower tuition fees and increased post-secondary funding.

At the National Day of Action on February 1st, Kyle Buott joined the students at the end of their march. Buott is the secretary and treasurer of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, and President of the Halifax Dartmouth Labour Council. He offered solidarity on behalf of the 75,000 workers that are a part of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.

“Workers support the student day of action, and that’s really important because students are workers and workers are students,” said Buott as he addressed the rallying students.

Buott also urged students to offer solidarity in return to the transit workers. Negotiations between the HRM council and Metro Transit continue.

Despite the fact that students rely on the transit system to get to class, they broke into cries of solidarity for the transit workers on February 1. Their enthusiasm has waned as the strike wears on, but Saied hopes of “coming to an agreement without inconveniencing too many people.”  nspig

“The faculty has said they don’t want to strike,” she said, “the transit workers definitely didn’t want to strike. But they feel as though they’ve been pushed against a wall and will go forward doing what they have to do in order to defend their rights.”