Striking students seek out, harass ‘scabs’ in Montreal


Students and teachers protest in front of the Minister of Education's office in Montreal on April 26, 2012.



Striking students went classroom-to-classroom today in Montreal searching for “scabs” as the ongoing tuition protest stretches into a fourth month, The Canadian Press reported.

Demonstrations moved from the streets into the hallways of University of Quebec at Montreal and featured about 100 protesters disrupting classes for those who tried to return to their studies.

“They’re trying to make us afraid to go back to class,” UQAM law student Celina Toia told CP. “Teachers are more than willing to give their classes, so they’re trying to make it extremely inconvenient. They’re threatening us and they’re creating a hostile environment for us.”

The so-called “reds” – who use a red square to symbolize their fight with the Quebec government – carried classroom schedules and shouted orders to mobilize at different areas.

About one-third of Quebec students are actively “on strike,” or boycotting classes.

They banged drums, blew on whistles, jumped on desks, yelled, knocked books down and flicked lights on and off today in Montreal, according to CP.

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There are reports of some male demonstrators grabbing female students and telling them to leave class, CBC News said.

Today’s confrontations came in response to law students and UQAM obtaining a court order in an attempt to resume classes; however, students from across the province are participating in strikes at all post-secondary institutions. 

While some demonstrators said they remained peaceful, other students suggested the ongoing unrest is only increasing.

Members from the “reds” and “greens” – those who want to return to school – exchanged heated words in face-to-face confrontations today.

“Peaceful? I really don’t see it was peaceful at all,” student Christina Macedo told CBC.

Post-secondary students began their “strike” almost four months ago when the Quebec government announced a $1,600 tuition increase – phased in over five years.

The increases would amount to about 75 percent in some cases.

Quebec has long offered the lowest tuition in Canada, but the government said it must raise rates to combat failing budgets.

Students, some labor leaders and faculty, respond by saying accessible education is fundamental to the French-speaking province.

There appears to be little compromise coming from the groups.

Students rejected offers from the government to further delay increases, among other initiatives aimed at improving the education system.

Student leaders met on Tuesday with new education minister Michelle Courchesne after Line Beauchamp resigned Monday.

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