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(en) Ireland, Dublin, Day of action brings bin trucks to a halt

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 14 Oct 2003 17:46:20 +0200 (CEST)


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This morning saw a day of action across Dublin
against the bin tax. At depot after depot
activists from the campaign turned up in the
early hours of the morning to stop the bin
trucks leaving. This act of defiance is our
answer to the continued jailing of activists by
the high court.
Yesterday three more women were jailed bringing
the total number of anti-bin tax activists in
jail to 15.If there was any doubt that the
courts exist to keep the working class down this
campaign has ended it. The newspapers are full
of stories of millionaires ripping off the
country and politicians taking huge bribes but
none of these gombeens are jailed. Instead on
day after day the High Court is sending working
class mothers, fathers and grandparents to jail
for protesting against the imposition of yet
another unjust tax.

Last night a protest of around 150 took place at
Mountjoy jail to protest the latest three
jailings. There was also a demonstration outside
the Council offices in Dun Laoghaire around the
same time, reported to have been of about 500
people.

Pic: Crowd at Mountjoy protest, see
http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html

This morning I took part in the Grangegorman
blockade along with over 30 others from the
areas around the depot. We arrived to discover
that overnight the bin trucks had been taken out
of the depot and parked along the roads outside.
If the council hoped this would stop us they
were disappointed as we simply blocked the
trucks where they were parked.

The bin workers in Grangegorman mostly live in
the areas around it and are sympatric to the
campaign. So they only made token efforts to
drive the trucks away.

Shortly after 8am news came through that at the
Collins Avenue depot a council vehicle had drove
at the blockade, the campaign secretary Joe
Mooney had been caught on the bonnet and carried
some distance down the road before he fell off.
This van was not driven by a bin man but by
someone from another department. Joe, who is
also the Chair of the East Wall Residents
Association was taken to hospital and released
around lunchtime.

Pic: Grangegorman blockade

When the bin men at Grangegorman heard of this
their shop steward came over to say how sorry
they were it had happened. Shortly afterwards
news came through that in other depots bin
workers who were refusing to break the blockades
were being temporarily laid off, this happened
to 2 in Dublin south and to 10 drivers at the
Rathmines depot. But the time I left
Grangegorman the bin workers had brought out
cups of tea to the protesters.

Meanwhile back in Collins Avenue it was reported
that the bin workers, who were furious about Joe
being run over, voted not to work for the rest
of the day. Some decided to stay in the canteen
and 40 or so came out to join the blockaders
outside.

Reports from the Dun Laoghaire/Sandyford depot
are that after the blockade had been in progress
for a couple of hours the workers had a meeting
inside the depot and were then told/decided to
go home.

It is now lunchtime and the state broadcaster is
reporting that due to the blockades tens of
thousands on bin all over Dublin will not be
collected today. If the council or courts
thought that jailing 15 people would intimidate
the rest of us they have just been given a good
lesson. The successful day of action, when most
areas are not even facing non-collection yet,
demonstrates that we can beat the council.

As importantly for the first time the bin
workers have come out in open solidarity with
the campaign in several depots. This confirms
what we already knew, that most if not all of
them oppose the bin tax, in part because they
recognise that once it is imposed privatisation
is likely to follow.

The problem they have is that while nearly all
unions now have policy passed at branch meetings
and conferences against the bin tax the union
leadership is refusing to implement this policy.
Some like David Begg, president of ICTU have
even gone on the media to attack the campaign.
The union leaders are wedded to social
partnership and through this to the neo-liberal
agenda that includes the bin tax.

Many bin workers are willing to take further
industrial action but they want their unions to
back them in doing so (otherwise they won't get
strike pay etc). Many of the anti-bin tax
campaigners are union members. Indeed many are
union activists including some of those jailed
to date. But the union leadership is standing in
the way

In the short term we all need to look for ways
that we can force the union leaders to back
action. But the longer-term lesson here is not
only that the current crop of union leaders are
crap but that the union structures are as well.
The union leaders have been able to not only
ignore but also contradict the wishes of their
members week after week. Today's events may have
brought things to a head that they can no longer
ignore. But after we have defeated the tax we
need to look at changing these structures and
getting rid of systems based on full timers who
cannot be made to follow the member's mandate.

Joe Black


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