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ICTU Call For Non-Payment Of Water charges
Monday January 08, 2007 14:24 by Alan MacSimoin - Workers Solidarity Movement
Water Tax: Beaten in the South
A non-payment campaign has been launched by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions through ‘Trade Unions Against Water Charges’. They advocate non-payment of the charges, which are due to be introduced in April 2007, as the "best way to overturn the Government’s proposals".
Their campaign also opposes any plans to privatise the Water Service. A leaflet urging the public to join the non-payment campaign will be circulated to every household in Northern Ireland.
There will be those who wonder if everyone on the ICTU executive is happy about this initiative, who if wonder whether they will cave in to pressure to call it off if the British government makes the tiniest concession.
Union Non-payment site |
NIPSA’s anti-water charges page |
Congress: Don’t pay twice, it’s all right |
SP: Politicians and Water Charges |
SP: December 2006 article |
We won’t pay website |
WSM: Lessons from beating the water charges |
This is to miss the point. Even if their campaign consists of little more than mailing a leaflet to each and every home in the six counties, it is a huge boost to those who want to defeat the charges (rather than just complain about them). It is not every day that that the ICTU calls for direct action!
The charges are one more attempt to screw money from working people. If they get their way, the government will be back with yet more ‘charges’ and stealth taxes.
As the ICTU say “The opposition to water charges has created unprecedented unity in every community. The way to put the unity into practice is through a united refusal to pay. We urge you to get involved in your local non-payment campaign. Already, tens of thousands of people have pledged to refuse to pay.
The legal position is clear: Non-payment is NOT a criminal offence, and the water company CANNOT turn off your domestic supply. Neither can they just dock your wages or benefits. They would have to take every individual non-payer separately through the Small Claims Court. If there’s enough of us, they’ll find it impossible.”
Speaking on behalf of ICTU, NIPSA General Secretary John Corey told the meeting that Government Ministers had a clear agenda to implement water charges for the primary purpose of selling it off to private corporations. He said
“If the water service is sold off as this Government is clearly planning, then the main beneficiaries will not be the people of Northern Ireland but private shareholders of multi-nationals that will seize on the opportunity of profiting at all our expense. Today all of us are stakeholders in the water service. It is not for sale and we do not wish our Water Service to levy bills on every household.
As the owners we can defend our public service. We can stop the privatisation. We can do it by not paying twice for what we have paid for already. And make no mistake about our position. The trade union movement in Northern Ireland, representing 250,000 workers and their families have decided democratically to back a ‘refuse to pay’ campaign. If the Government think that they can browbeat the public in Northern Ireland to pay these water charges, or mislead the people with false information on charges they are far mistaken.
We don’t need further consultation exercises. The way for the people to let their opinion be known is to back non payment. By withholding our water payments, the people will also be saying NO to privatisation. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, ‘Don’t Pay Twice, It’s Alright’.”