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(en) Ireland, Successful National Forum sees Campaign against Household Tax gets organised

Date Wed, 14 Sep 2011 19:57:19 +0300

Last Saturday (10th September) over 200 people attended the National Organising Meeting of the Anti-Household & Water Tax Campaign. People from over 16 counties arrived during the first session in the afternoon with more arriving later. The meeting was organised to co-ordinate a mass non-payment campaign against the €100 household charge announced by the government to come into effect on 1st January 2012. The campaign sees this as the “first step in the government’s plans to implement a fully fledged property and water tax by 2014 that could be around €1,200 according to one government economic advisor. “ In the long-term, this paves the way for the privatisation of the water supply, as occurred with refuse collection. ---- Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party opened the first session, outlining his experiences from the successful anti water charges campaign in the 1990s.

That was a mass campaign based on non-payment, and the idea is to build a similar campaign in this instance. That campaign, like this one, was in opposition to a double tax. A number of people from rural areas brought to the attention of the meeting that septic tank charges were another issue that concerned them and should be incorporated into this campaign.

There were a large number of contributions from the floor, all of which endorsed non-payment as the bedrock that the campaign should be built on. There was some difference of opinion over what the tactical emphasis of the campaign should be with speakers from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) calling for ‘mobilisations on the street’ and ‘mass mobilisations’ while everyone else was stressing the importance of building non-payment.

The second half of the meeting saw the WSM’s Gregor Kerr (who was secretary of the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charge Campaigns in the ‘90s) focus on the theme of ‘Organising’. Gregor said that we must focus on building strong vibrant local campaigns in every community, and from that we should work towards a federation which will actively oppose this charge. He argued that key to winning would be “Mass involvement of hundreds of thousands of people not just as non-payers but as organisers in their local areas.”

He said “From the outset we have to be clear and honest with people – we’re not offering a service, we’re offering an opportunity to get involved. At public meetings we have to be upfront. If everyone comes along to the meeting, gives out about the tax, rails against the injustice and then goes home the charge will not be defeated. If, on the other hand, people who come to the meetings become involved in building the campaign in their local areas then we can and will be successful. “

The approach to organising the campaign in Dublin was outlined and he proposed that an interim national steering committee be established with the objective of establishing the campaign in every town and city in the country, aiming to come back to a national conference early next year at which a properly representative co-ordinating committee for the campaign could be elected.

Gregor outlined plans for the development of the campaign website (www.nohouseholdtax.org), a national newsletter, templates for posters and leaflets which can be downloaded and used by local campaigns, lapel stickers, car stickers, posters for display in residents’ windows etc.

The objective in every area should be, he said, to create an atmosphere that everyone is opposed to the tax and that you’d be the odd one out if you pay it.

Stressing the importance of political parties and organisations co-operating with each other to build the campaign, he said “We will not build a successful campaign if political parties or organisations want ownership or want to brand the campaign in particular areas. Everywhere the campaign must be open and democratic and be seen to be.”

This campaign is an opportunity to finally stand up to the powers that be and their attempts to put the costs of the financial crisis on the shoulders of ordinary workers. This government, like their predecessors, wish to make working people plug the massive hole that exists in this country’s finances, by slashing our living standards and by preparing for the privatisation of public services.

It makes perfect sense to them and ultimately we could all end up paying €1200 per household per annum between household and water taxes. This money will go straight to fill the holes left in the finances of the banks who gave their money to casino capitalist developers who lost it all trying to get even richer.

But we must act quickly. The household tax is designed to encourage people to pay it quickly. We need to grasp this campaign as a chance to stop this government in its tracks. We need to organise for mass based non-payment campaign and use this as a way to tell the powers that be that we are not going to take any more. We are not going to continue to pay the debts for the speculators and the banks.

This National Organising meeting of the Anti-Household & Water Tax campaign was an important first step on the road towards organising for a fairer solution to the problems of this society, one which doesn’t entail ordinary people paying more for less. In the next weeks local campaigns will be forming all over the country, if you want to see this tax defeated you need to get involved in that process to build a mass non-payment campaign.

The WSM* is working with other groups and individuals to help build the Anti-Household & Water Tax campaign If you are willing to get involved and if you are ok with us sharing your contact details with others in your area, please reply to the following questions:
1. Are you going to be available to help organise a campaign group in your local area ?
2. What area do you live in?
3. If needed, are you available to help organise the campaign in areas where we have no contacts?
by emailing kerrgregor@yahoo.co.uk.
If you want more information or would like to discuss this further you can also text or ring Gregor Kerr on 086 1501151

Read more about the Battle against the Household Tax. http://www.wsm.ie/household-tax
We won last time, read about the 1990's successful struggle against the Water Tax
* Anarchist organization
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