Halifax rests uneasily in an anxious, teeth-grinding state of turmoil right now. Half the city fiendishly skims through newspapers and scours blogs just for a sliver of information on the Metro Transit strike or the chance of impending strikes suddenly coming into fruition.
We are smack-dab in the middle of civil unrest, no doubt due to the wake of the Occupy protests and a general sense of dissatisfaction with our current economic climate. How is it, then, that the people who have the most to be dissatisfied with are the ones who are inevitably completely screwed over by these strikes?
With Metro Transit on strike, thousands of commuters who rely on buses to get to and from work are paying exponentially more to drive to work, take cabs, or scramble around trying to carpool to their jobs. The stubbornness of both sides of the bargaining table has simply lumped another pile of hardship onto the plates of people who are struggling to make it on minimum wage—or slightly above—as it is. These are people who don’t have the option to strike for more money or better benefits—people who are forced to come up with new and inventive ways just to make it to work and make ends meet.
Likewise, with the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) teetering ever further in favour of striking—regardless of whatever good reasons the administration or the DFA have for duking it out—the risk for students is needlessly stressful and potentially life-altering. There are students who have their university stays mapped down to the last minute, who depend on summer jobs and can’t really deal with an extended semester, let alone a repeat.
This economic crunch is being catastrophized on all sides, with faculty concerned about their future well-being and the administration reluctant to say yes to any monetary issues, terrified of going belly-up. Meanwhile, students are worried about taking midterm grades as final grades, having to repeat a semester, or having to tack on another year because of their inability to graduate.
We’re caught at a crossroads of fiscal fear and the general populous is bearing the brunt of this economic backlash. Hell, there’s even talk of the water commission striking. Water!? Isn’t that kind of a necessary service? What the hell are you proving by enabling the congregation of an unwashed, smelly sprawl of angry protestors?
We keep hearing that no one wants to strike, but that it’s out of principle—that they want to enact change. But it seems like all they’re changing is the ability of the majority to get to work, have a shower, or get an education they were promised.
So, when you end up back at that bargaining table after our grueling, white-knuckled weeks of no buses, water or classes, and inevitably settle for below what was offered in the first place, I hope like hell you at least think it was worth it.