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(en) Ireland, Organise! - BEATING THE WATER TAX

From Al S <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Thu, 13 May 2004 16:22:58 +0200 (CEST)

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On Wednesday 21st April Organise! held a public meeting in
Belfast, “Fighting to Win – Beating The Water Tax”.
The meeting was addressed by Dermot Sreenan of the
Workers Solidarity Movement who had been involved in
the two and a half year campaign which defeated water
charges in the south in December 1996. Direct action,
obstruction of attempted disconnects, ‘illegal’
reconnection of water supplies to those who had been
cut off, households contributing to a legal defence
fund and mass non-payment made this tax a nightmare
for the Irish state to enforce. This resulted in a
clear victory for working class self organisation. The
same can be done in the north.

The Federation of Dublin Anti-Water Charges Campaigns,
of which Dermot was an active member, was based on
resistance – street by street, community by
community. Each and every person involved in this
campaign was crucial.

The lessons are clear and time is short. Government
are looking to implement Water Charges in April 2006.
Anti-Water Charges groups must be built in working
class communities over the coming months. Central to
the building of the campaign must be non-payment of
any water charges. Many cannot afford to pay but some
may be able to meet the cost by tightening their
belts. The point is that working class people should
not be the ones expected to tighten their belts.
Industry which is at present metered uses over 50% of
water yet ordinary people will be expected to cover
around 70% of the projected costs.

Water Charges are an unjust double tax, despite what
government tells us water has always been paid for in
our rates. With around 37% of our rates bills paying
for water. Only mass non-payment, in solidarity with
those who cannot afford to have their water turned
into a commodity, will defeat water charges. By
making them unenforceable.

Government claim that due to years of under
investment, by them, that the water service must be
self financing. They claim privatisation is not on
the agenda but all the options to induce private
investment will see demands for a ‘return’ - a profit
from the supply of a basic human necessity. Yet they
have money aplenty to invest in war and the arms
trade. £300 million has been spent on NOT finding any
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What’s going on?
Government have plenty of money to spend to help
pursue the interests of the rich and powerful – they
don’t want to keep spending the taxes they take off
workers on the working class.
This is a struggle which we cannot afford to lose. If
we do we can be sure more attacks will follow, whether
implemented by Westminster or our local
‘representatives’ at Stormont. However, when we do
win we will set them and their neo-liberal agenda of
attacks on working people back years. Such a victory
will inspire confidence in the working class and a
knowledge that together, despite our trade union
‘leaders’ and politicians, we can achieve great

And we can win this struggle, it will be hard work, it
is work to which members of Organise! are committed.
Anyone can get involved, hold meetings in your local
area, support non-payment and direct action, build
resistance in your street. Join us in defeating water
charges and privatisation of our water. Contact us or
the Communities Against the Water Tax to get involved
(see the contact information).

Government plans for water reform will mean massive
job losses, the running down of services and the
introduction of charges for water use.
Water charges for Northern Ireland are set to be
amongst the highest in the UK – bearing in mind that
sewerage and water charges in Scotland are up to
£1,300 per year – a bill of between £400 and £600 a
appears the most likely annual charge at this stage.
The charging regime is likely to be based on property
value and there will be no exemptions.
A 25% discount, which has been suggested for people
claiming certain ‘passport’ benefits, is not aimed at
assisting the poorest and most vulnerable in our
society. This is a cynical manipulation, an attempt to
secure greater public and political acceptance. This
is, according to internal Government recommendations,
to be a temporary measure paid for by the hiking up of
water charges across the board to subsidise this
Meanwhile the new Water Services boss is on a salary
of £150,000 plus bonuses to ensure they push this
The Water Service aim to cut 350 jobs initially and
centralise work. The total number of jobs lost could
be up to 900. Job losses and centralisation of
services will further erode services in outlying and
rural districts.
While Minister John Spellar has stated that
privatisation is not an option ALL the options being
looked at are privatisation by different means.


>From the pages of Working Class Resistance, regular
bulletin of Organise! To distribute in your area,
contact Organise! at:


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