As you may have noticed, our neighbor university has a conflict between the Association of UNB Teachers and the UNB administration. The AUNBT went on strike, and the administration has locked them out. The strike is extremely peaceful so far with AUNBT protesting the proposed increase by UNB administration to their wages as miniscule and lacking for the job they are doing, while the president of UNB had an eight per cent increase in his wage alone in 2013. Whether you side with the profs or the administration, this strike is miniscule compared to the other protests and strikes going on in the world today. Let me show you what I mean.
In the Ukraine, violent clashes have broken out between riot police and protesters. The protests started when President Yanukovych rejected to sign an EU partnership deal that would have brought some wealth into the west of the country, but would have dealt a blow to industry in the east with its ties to Russian trade. Russia made a proposal, after Yanukovych declined the EU deal, for Russia to buy $15 billion of Ukrainian debt in bonds and reduce the price of gas sold to Ukraine. It seems Russia did this to keep the Ukraine from entering the EU, keeping Ukraine in their hands somewhat.
This outraged the protesters even more, who have been on and off the street for the past few months until recently when violence flared after the passing of anti-protest laws. Petrol bombs and fireworks were launched at the riot police, who then retaliated by some heavy-handed beating of protesters. Recently some protesters have been were killed by bullets, the first fatalities of the protest.
In Thailand, protesters who wish for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign have taken to the streets of Bangkok, shutting down the city. This once peaceful protest has turned violent after grenades and drive-by shootings have occurred at protest sites, injuring dozens. The government blames the protesters and protesters blame the government. This has led to the introduction of a state of emergency in Bangkok. This allows the army to have a more active role in cracking down on the protesters. Whether the army will side with the government is another story. They may just throw a coup like they did with Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother and f0rmer prime minister.
Both the Ukrainian and Thailand protests lend lessons to the UNB strike. In the Thailand protest, the determining factor in all this is not the government or the protesters, but a third party, the military. If the military supports the government the protesters may start to realize that their protests are fruitless. For UNB this means that the determining factor is neither the admin nor the AUNBT, it’s the students. If the students support the AUNBT then the admin will be more likely to give more concessions to the AUNBT to acquire tuition from students.
As for the Ukrainian lesson, don’t antagonize those on the picket line, unless you want to feel the wrath of Canadian protest fervor: smiles, waving, and the occasional wait as they cross the road.