Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Working While you Strike -La la la la la la la!

When my mother was a little girl, her parents took away one of her privileges to discipline her for something she did. She was so angry that she vowed to make them pay. In protest, she gave up sleeping in her bed and lied on the floor beside her parent's bed. According to her logic, they would feel guilty for punishing her and give her back her privileges. She was going to teach them a lesson. Well, it didn't work. No parent can show their children a good example by falling prey to their childish behaviour. My grandparents certainly weren't going to do that! In the same vein, I find most strikes childish. Although they are much more effective than confrontation, they can also be unnecessarily disruptive.

This week, most of my fellow students have been sitting at home while our instructors strut their stuff along the picket line. Yes, our college faculty is on strike. They have a problem with being teachers under the conditions that they teach. When they are satisfied with the pay then they aren't satisfied with the schedule and when they're satisfied with the schedule, they can still find something sour to chew on.

Not all of them are this way of course. My teachers have informed us that they will do everything they can to get us graduated after calling us their own for these past two years. (Now I'm marking them!) However, based on the contract, when the union strikes, they must strike or face high monetary penalties. Union's used to be the poor man's liberation. Back during Rockefeller's day it was the strikes that finally got workers fair treatment. I'm sick of strikes for greedy reasons though -the NHL last year, more recently the municipal workers. It really messes up our productivity!! Now unions just seem to punish everyone.

Most of my education years have been plagued by strikes. Luckily it's never held me back before. My college has been rated the number one college in my province for the past seven years, but what kind of college holds you back from finishing your program on time? The fun twist in things is that I am out of the teacher's jurisdiction this time. I'm on co-op placement. Nothing they can say or do will affect me. I guess they won't be teaching me a lesson! Ha!

If you want something to strike about, my suggestion is: make it good. Gandhi was the king of non-violent resistance. When the Hindus and Muslims would fight, he fasted. One day he asked everyone to strike against the British, and they did. This disrupted the mail system, trade, everything. He made a point that the people of India were collectively stronger than their occupiers. Now that Bush is cozying up to Singh, pushing to set India up with nuclear power, it might be an appropriate time to protest that. Sure, energy is a valuable commodity, but could Bush's motivation be anything other than to fuel a war effort against China if it is to allow India to build twenty-two new nuclear reactors unregulated by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty?

India is not a NPT member. Since the tension began with Pakistan in 1999, they've been a nuclear state although they claim to be on a no-strike first basis. It doesn't make me feel more comfortable when a state that has the power to annihilate the planet says it will only do so after someone else has made that decision. That's MADD. That makes everyone hover over the trigger. But the difference between Iran and India is that India didn't call for Israel to be wiped off the map and secondly, it has 31 percent of the world's radioactive material. So why not let them have a gander at increased military clout?

While the US might be violating Article I of the Nonproliferation Treaty by giving India further nuclear capability, their proposed aim in aligning with India is to ensure that India doesn't market its weapons to the rest of the world. Still, this doesn't look good, considering that only some of the nuclear reactors are going to be monitored by the UN. To me, it looks like one of Rumsfeld's "projects"

But anyway, enough about world annihilation. March 8 is International Women's Day! Since I like women, I'm celebrating too. Women have done so many things that men have never done. There are countless examples of women heroines from Queen Elizabeth, Jane Goodall, Margaret Cavendish, to Tori Amos and Cindy Klassen, who won five medals this year, or a quarter of our Olympic medals this year!! This day serves as a chance to recognize the advances women have made in society as well as to recognize the instances that women have been victimized, such as the Montreal massacre, where 14 young women were killed just because they aspired to learn.

In ancient Greece, Lysistrata used a sex strike to protest the war. That men enjoy sex was obviously never a secret. Now we're at war again. Protest away ladies. I don't have a girlfriend. Again I'm invincible!! Well, there are other ways to get my attention. This summer, women in Iran protested veils. With all the politicization of Islam this year: the Hamas election, the political cartoon, etc. Islam is on the global mind. On the European runways, the recent trends in drapey, sober women's apparel got someone to describe it as the "Muslimization of fashion". It would be nice to see women relate on gender if not politics, race or religion. If I was a girl, I'd have a slumber party or something. Mary Wortley Montagu argued that veils empowered a woman in her situation, traveling in the 18th C. In England, she would be harassed any where she went. In Turkey where she was veiled like all other women, she had safety in anonymity. It seems however, over a hundred years later, that the Western world looks at veils as repressive. It is ironic that our fashion would now be embracing subtle forms of it. It is interesting to see how women's roles influence our perception of religious and racial roles which in turn define our sense of self.

When we break away from the collective to teach others a lesson, we must remember that we are the mirror image, the counterpart. We are like Gestalt images: only making sense in part from the whole.

Filed in Politics + Personal Diegesis + Philosophy


Blogger Inkblot said...

Now why have men never worn veils? Would it be considered repressive even if they wanted to?

4:06 a.m.  
Anonymous Adorable Girlfriend said...

Strikes suck! Sorry to hear about your news. I can send you my homework if you'd like. Then you can feel at home.

10:58 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i promise u i didn't read your post because it was too long. i'm in no reading mood today, even though i wrote a longee meself....point is...your title...is an oxymoron...which i love. so i'm sure the post was brilliant as are all your posts.......but i'm a lazy ass today, so forgive me for being me.

3:17 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but I came back to READ it...and it WAS WELL WORTH IT....as always...a wonderful piece. I especially like the story about your mom sleeping on the floor in protest........and peaceful protest aka Gandhi is the bEST kind....i'm not into war...the Bush India regime for nuclear power just scares the bejeezuz out of me. you are a wonderfully intelligent person my dear and you have a skill for writing. I hope you put it to good use....btw that pic of u in flckr...omg...GORGEOUS EYES! muah! xo

6:23 p.m.  
Blogger J said...

"Not all of them are this way of course."

I would say that many of them are not that way, Bear.

They don't have a choice to strike -- that's the whole problem of being in a union. If the union votes to strike, you have to strike.

Do you think Doug wants to be out there picketing? Hell no.

10:37 p.m.  
Blogger J said...

"but what kind of college holds you back from finishing your program on time"

Forgot to mention: it's not your college specifically that is holding you back -- all Ontario colleges are striking.

I don't think it's fair to single out one college when all of them are striking. Besides, if the colleges had their way, you'd all be in the classroom (well, those of you not on Co-op terms) right now.

10:40 p.m.  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

inkblot -I know a guy named Howard who wears something like a veil although he doesn't call it that. In the dessert it stops him from inhaling sand all the time.

adorable girlfriend -Yeah, send me your homework. My mailbox is your garbage can.

mitzzee -Such a good girl. You came back! Yes this war thing is nuts. War on terrorism is an oxymoron and Bush isn't very oxy, he's bully. It seems like the way countries are being threatened if they are suspected of having weapons is reason enough for them to get those weapons so that they can be left alone. That's what the pattern of policy seems to say. Will that picture be a runner-up for your collection?

j -Yeah, I don't see Doug carrying a sign with a big smile on his face, you're right. This strike is ALL Ontario colleges right? I was talking to some nurses from Mohawk and they are really going to be screwed if they can't graduate. I agree that many teachers haven't willed this but somewhere along the way I think someone's being greedy. I don't understand the whole process of how the union decides to strike but I hope they are not averse to negotiation. They could also hurry too.

3:02 p.m.  
Blogger J said...

Yeah, it's all Ontario colleges.

As for how they decide to strike -- as far as I know, all members of the union vote. So, for sure, a majority of the members of the union (including the college instructors) voted to strike, but it could have been 51% vs 49%.

I dunno'.. I agree that it's a strike out of greed. The bottom line is that they want more money for less hours of work. But I think it's important to remember that there is probably a large sub-population within those striking that are against the strike.

Just my two cents, but then I'm biased since I want to be a college prof. =)

5:12 p.m.  

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