This Government and its lackeys on the four Dublin councils had hoped that they could enter the new year with the bin tax imposed and long forgotten.
They had hoped to isolate the opposition by winning the majority to the idea that the tax was in fact an environmentally friendly policy. They have failed.
The stiff resistance they encountered throughout the city but particularly in Fingal, forced them to retreat from implementing mass non-collection in all areas in the last three months of 2003. They were forced to rethink their tactics.
That they sent twenty-two people to prison is an indication of their determination to impose the double tax but they will pay a heavy price. Their actions have disgusted working class people and the bin tax battle has served to undermine all of the established parties.
South Dublin set date for tags and non-collection
South Dublin County Council have given the clearest indication of a new offensive. They are imposing a tag system and therefore mass non-collection from 2 February. They are insisting that all households either pay all arrears or come to an agreement to pay all arrears before even tagged bins will be collected. They are issuing special stickers to those who make such arrangements and only bins with a sticker and a tag will to emptied.
The tag system is a more difficult system to fight against than a flat charge. By turning the charge into a weekly payment system they hope to minimise it’s seriousness in the minds of residents.
Lets be clear, the tag system is not a step forward. It facilitates the identification of non-payers and makes it easier to impose the vile policy of non-collection. For most households the tag system would mean a massive increase in the tax compared to last year. The lessons from the tag system in Fingal is that some households will present their bins for collection less often, and as a result the number of houses on each route will be increased and jobs will be lost. The tag system makes the privatisation of the service easier.
How the campaign must respond
While the tag system is difficult to fight against, there are a number of important things in our favour and if we get organised in January we could force them to retreat.
Firstly we must take steps to try to scupper or delay the tag system. The campaign must discuss with the bin workers that it is in their interests to act now to oppose the tag system and non-collection. Straight away through the local public meetings a campaign of political pressure must be launched.
We must tell the politicians that the campaign will oppose them in the local elections unless the tag system is dropped and all bins are collected. In Fingal the pressure on the politicians didn’t force a retreat but in South Dublin they will be trying to implement non-collection right on the eve of elections not ten months beforehand as in Fingal.
If they are intent on imposing non-collection as planned, it is vital that we convince the majority to boycott the tags on 2 February. As people can do without a service for a certain period we believe we can convince residents to do this. Then the campaign must go into overdrive. At an activists meeting in Tallaght attended by one hundred and fifty people on 4 January it was agreed that all the different forms of protests that have been adopted in the past have to be put back on the table.
If we can mobilise significant numbers we can bring massive disruption to the service. The more people involved the less the law can be successfully used against us. Organised and determined action can have a big impact on the workers and the politicians. With a mass response we can force them back.
The bin tax battle is now much bigger than the bin tax. It is about fighting a government who increasingly seem to want to pauperise working class people and at the same time deny us the right to protest. It is very important that we stand firm and fight as best we can.
Bin taxes rise and they rise…
Cork: 28% refuse charge hike
Refuse charges were increased 28% from 277 euro to 355 euro in the Cork City Council area when only five Councillors voted against the City Manager’s estimate in December.
An unholy alliance of FF, FG, PD and Labour councillors united to vote through an increase 12 times the official rate of inflation to ensure that Cork householders will be asked to pay more than a full weeks average take home pay for refuse collection in 2004.
This hike came on top of a massive City Hall campaign threatening non-collection if refuse charges arrears were not paid up.
Many householders had arrears of over 1,000 euro and were forced to go to the credit union or cut back on Christmas spending plans to keep the wolf from the door.
Cork householders should use their vote in June to pay the big parties back for the blackmail and abuse received in recent months.
Dublin City: 23% increase in tax as majority refuses to pay
Dublin City Council voted for a 23% increase in bin charges for 2004 – from 154 euro to 195 euro for a wheelie bin. Two weeks before the increase was voted on the Council had to release figures under the Freedom of Information Act that prove that less than 30% of households have paid the bin tax in full.
This is the second year in a row the stealth tax has been increased substantially, making a lie of the Council’s claim that the tax would not be raised when it was introduced in December 2000.
Meanwhile, the majority of households in the Council area are giving the Council a clear answer: we won’t pay! And to those Councillors who continue to vote this tax through: Come next June, we won’t have forgotten
From Socialist Voice, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in Ireland