Our first year as a pupils union

School year review 2018/19

Last year, after the summer holidays, we came together as anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist youth and critical pupils to form a group. This was preceded by the open meeting of the education sector, which has been taking place since November 2017, the monthly Alternative Pupil Networking since February 2018, the Critical Education Alliance with a series of lectures and an education strike in June 2018. These were all meetings at which we discussed and planned, organised and learned.

For example, we created a survey on school criticism and performed a street theatre to draw attention to the fact that we are pressed into form at school instead of developing our individual talents. In any case, many of us were of the opinion that a new libertarian youth group was needed that could articulate the interests of pupils and trainees, make demands and take action. We became a section – open to non-FAU members – within the Dresden General Syndicate. On the one hand, to benefit from their trade union experience and structures and, on the other hand, to show solidarity and network with the struggles in other sectors and life situations.

Since then, we have met weekly at a plenary session. In addition, we took over the organisation of the Alternative Pupil Networking, which we complemented with input lectures, workshops and creative work. We gave ourselves the name Black Rose (Schwarze Rose), after an old anarchist symbol.

In October, the occupied tree houses in the Hambach forest were to be evicted in order to clear RWE’s way for lignite mining. We wanted to draw pupils’ attention to the fact that for the profit interests of the energy companies, people are being forced to relocate, (threatened) animals are being displaced, water is being polluted, existing forests have been cleared since the Ice Age and the climate change – which threatens us all – is being fueled by coal burning. We emphasized that activists experience police violence and are imprisoned because they defend our future and that we can only stop developments with mass protests from below. Therefore we painted a banner with the inscription “Coal power is murder of our future! Hambi stays” and raised it at the Gymnasium Bürgerwiese. A week later, a flyer campaign was launched at the same school, explaining the problems and need for action in detail.

Perhaps these two actions also contributed to the fact that a few months later many young people joined the FridaysForFuture strikes. However, it would be desirable for these protests to concentrate on a stronger critique of capitalism. On the one hand to emphasize the strike character and also to motivate workers to strike in order to develop economic pressure. On the other hand, because capitalist, profit-oriented management and ecological sustainability are mutually exclusive as global concepts.

In addition, we stayed with the FAU at the anti-fascist youth congress in Chemnitz. A great forum to network and get input on various topics. Soon it will take place again, register!

The main event of the year was certainly the F*Streik on 8 March, the International Women’s Day with all its preparations. Within the F*Streik network we organised a feminist strike for pupils and trainees, for which we distributed leaflets in advance at schools and collected notes with the pupils’ thoughts on the subject of sexism and school criticism in our “Rage & Wishes Box”. There was a lot of information (from sexual harassment by teachers, bad education, racism to everyday (school) stress) and we were confirmed that there is a need for action! Finally we organized a protest, which went from school to school and demanded a strike. Most of us organised a demonstration for the first time. We wrote and gave speeches on the following topics:

  • Why feminism and why strike?
  • Solidarity in everyday school life
  • Birth Control, Self-Determined Contraception and SaferSex
  • criminalisation of abortion §218 §219a StGB
  • Women and family image of the AfD
  • transgender and gender roles
  • poor pay for women and unequal distribution of reproductive work
  • Strike call to apprentices in the social sector
  • Call for solidarity for FridaysForFuture

We distributed 500 condoms and instructions on how to turn them into leak tissues because we are for free access to contraceptives and safer sex accessories. We have all symbolically thrown up the Indian Holi powder for the abolition of gender roles and economic classes. We shouted, danced and discussed. In total we were at 6 schools, where some pupils joined our protest and others spent the break with us and overdid. We were supplied with food by the solidarity striking men and at the end we walked to the Postplatz, where the central strike festival took place.

The most interesting parts of the preparation were certainly those where we “fell away” from the actual work, away from the big theoretical superstructure to conversations about the very personal views on and experiences with sexism and queer hostility. Even though it was sometimes stressful to organize all this, it was super empowering to create this structure from the bottom up. Self-organization rocks!

All in all we held 3 lectures and workshops at schools, most recently at the Tolerance Day at the Pestalozzi-Gymnasium, organized by students themselves. There was a school criticism workshop and a lecture on the topic “ways after school” including obstacles caused by social background (classism) or patriarchy, advantages and disadvantages and basic trade union options for action. In addition, there are 10 Pupil Networkings organised by us since September 2018. In the last school day we also created a contact point for pupils who could get stress because of their school report.

We took part in numerous demonstrations with banners, stickers and leaflets, be it at Fridays for Future or against PEGIDA and the new Saxon police law.

As a pupils’ union, we also dealt with cases of individuals who contacted us. These are, for example, cross-border / discriminatory behaviour of teachers or other improper exploitation of their positions, but also intervention if fellow pupils repeatedly express themselves racist / anti-Semitic and (once again) nothing happens on the part of the school management.

We have achieved a lot and learned a lot in our first year and it goes on fighting!

As the youth section of the grassroots trade union FAU, we are there to assert the interests of pupils, trainees and “volunteers” (FSJ, FÖJ, BuFDi, etc.) and to stand up for their rights. As anarchists, feminists and antifascists we fight for freedom, self-administration and emancipation, against hierarchies, authority, exploitation, environmental destruction, discrimination and the shift to the right. We organize ourselves further from below! For a new fighting year inside and outside the schools!

We wish you and us a nice and relaxing holiday!

[ssba]