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ICTU Call For Non-Payment Of Water charges

category national | anti-capitalism | feature author Monday January 08, 2007 14:24author by Alan MacSimoin - Workers Solidarity Movement Report this post to the editors

featured image
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’.”

author by Johnpublication date Fri Jan 05, 2007 00:01Report this post to the editors

I don't remember the ICTU or any of the main unions calling for a boycott of water charges in the south when they existed and they've been very quite to-date about bin charges. I am a trade unionist and don't like union bashing but it's time a truth was faced on this one.

author by Roguepublication date Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:00Report this post to the editors

John if it hadn't been for grass root activists "Knocking thier collective pans in" ICTU would be doing nothing up here too!! And unfortunately In reality, they would be doing NOTHING as opposed to the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM that they are doing now!!!
As for the Unions in the ICTU context, only NIPSA is showing any sort of worthwhile support for the campaign. This once again achieved through the persistence of the grass root activists on the left of the Union over two Union conferences to align NIPSA to this worthy campain.
I don't like union bashing either, but sometimes you have to call it as it is.

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by my union ex Belfast Dockerpublication date Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:31Report this post to the editors


The reason ICTU didn't campaign against Bin Charges is because that would put them in direct opposition to their partners.

The fact that Northern Ireland Committee has called for non payment of water charges - means, that some members of that committee can think for themselves and are not toeing the party - ie collaboration line.

I'm quite sure that the wires will be humming between Parnell Square and Downing Street asking for something to be given to get them off the hook.

The anti worker and anti working class ICTU down here in Dublin know this could be the thin end of the wedge. If the NIC have started acting independently of them - as seems to be the case here - where will it end?

Their next target could be the ICTU in Dublin.

They might even call for a non-payment of union dues until the Trade Union Movement represents the trade union movement - or... call for an internal investigation into why the ICTU took no action against the corrupt ITGWU.

Or... HORROR of HORRORS, they might even demand that the working class get to run the unions they belong to.

I think, before thing get this far, the NIC will be made toe the collaborationist line. If not then more direct action on behalf of the bureaucrats in ICTU will be needed; of the kind which saw the great JIM LARKIN expelled from the union he founded and loved.

James Connolly said: "The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, and the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour". He recognised the strength and potential of the working class, consisting of Catholic, Protastant and dissenter. He assumed wrongly, that Labour would always be led by men of vision and of the WORKING CLASS.

Will the ICTU in the North... free the workers in the South...?

author by In preparationpublication date Fri Jan 05, 2007 21:05Report this post to the editors

Photos from the Southern campaign in 1990s

Joe Higgins flanked by members of the SP and WSM
Joe Higgins flanked by members of the SP and WSM

Working Class Solidarity --> Victory
Working Class Solidarity --> Victory

Picket at Tallagt Co. Council
Picket at Tallagt Co. Council

First Court Picket
First Court Picket

author by vincent Iscariotpublication date Mon Jan 08, 2007 19:14Report this post to the editors

Why have the WSM posted this info? They are the group who could not continue to oppose the bin tax but are now talking about opposition to water rates. please....give us some credit!

ps...I know this will be deleted because you cannot defend your position.

author by Mick Butlerpublication date Mon Jan 08, 2007 22:11Report this post to the editors

Thanks for that info Alan. No doubt there is charges lined up for the water pipelines down south AFTER the election, just as they done when they jailed a TD and many good citizens in 2003 re the bin tax. All of this and be it noted, not a body in jail for corruption !
Much gratitude is due to shop stewards and TU committee reps for forcing the hand of ICTU on this issue, make no mistake about it the organised trade union is the locomotive that pulls the train, and it is not always an easy place to be, especially when "partnership" is the buzzword and the TU bureaucracy do at times plot and go after their own activists for "rocking the boat" of partnership, it is a pernicious influence and again fair play to those who have achieved this. Now lets see a spirited response from ICTU down here.

author by Mick Butlerpublication date Mon Jan 08, 2007 22:12Report this post to the editors

Thanks for that info Alan. No doubt there is charges lined up for the water pipelines down south AFTER the election, just as they done when they jailed a TD and many good citizens in 2003 re the bin tax. All of this and be it noted, not a body in jail for corruption !
Much gratitude is due to shop stewards and TU committee reps for forcing the hand of ICTU on this issue, make no mistake about it the organised trade union is the locomotive that pulls the train, and it is not always an easy place to be, especially when "partnership" is the buzzword and the TU bureaucracy do at times plot and go after their own activists for "rocking the boat" of partnership, it is a pernicious influence and again fair play to those who have achieved this. Now lets see a spirited response from ICTU down here.

author by ............. - we won't pay campaignpublication date Mon Jan 22, 2007 22:10author email wewontpay at btconnect dot comauthor phone 02890311778Report this post to the editors

The government can will be forced to scrap the water charges if a campaign of mass non-payment is built in every local community. The government intends to privatise our water service and needs a seperate water charge in order to do so. But if people refuse to pay, then no private company will want to take over the service, leaving the government with no choice but to abandon charges.

As part of the campaign the We Won't Pay Campaign is organising a march against water charges 1.00pm Saturday 31 March, assembly at the Art College, York Street Belfast.

join the demo!
join the demo!

Related Link: http://www.geocities.com/we_wontpay
author by Ianpublication date Thu Jan 25, 2007 00:15Report this post to the editors

Yes, what a good idea. End double taxation. End any sort of incentive to use water conservatively. I agree that people should get water free, but only to a certain point. Anything else fails to discourage people from using up excessive amounts of water.

author by Ypublication date Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:15Report this post to the editors


People in Northern Ireland have always payed for water. They pay through the rates. The water charges are a second charge which will go to private sector companys.

The most significant water loss in the water system are leaks, this problem is caused by a generation of under investment by the government, over the years money earmarked from the block grant was diverted to other issue.

author by Frankdanpublication date Thu Jan 25, 2007 14:31Report this post to the editors

I understand Ian's frustration, but one point that has never been raised in threads like this is that the tax payer in the North contributed to the improvements that were made to water services in Britain that were then privatised under Thatcher.
The water service in the North was never updated.
In other words, money from the North was used to update water services in Britain, then people in the North are brow-beaten for having an under-resourced service and we're told that we'll have to pay for the upgrade.
Double tax indeed!

author by too poor to livepublication date Fri Jan 26, 2007 22:25Report this post to the editors

Don't pay water charges. It will cost the government more to put those who don't pay in prison.

According to John Reid it costs initially £100,000 to put a person in prison, and £40,000 to keep them in prison, making it more economically viable to not bother criminalising people whose only crime is being too poor to pay water charges.

The water system has been managed very well in the past without having to pay water charges. We are will paying for the beurocracy needed to privatise our water system, money will be not be going into the public purse, but into the private coffers of already rich company executives.

Those who are in charge of public bodies/civil service heads ie Housing executive/DHSS are also chief executives/directors in private companies, whom these public bodies contract out their work to.

People such as Briege Gadd, who was once head of the DHSS, owns various private companies and now sits on the board of the NSPCC, the head of the Prison service is now running Barnados? Northern ireland seems to be a quango for the rich, where same well to do people swap round all the top jobs, sitting on the board of various public bodies, and numerous private companies at the same time, getting paid £60,000 a year, for their public service roles, and simultaneously another £80,000 for their roles in private companies.

The poorest in our society such as pensioners, the unemployed and single parents, are already living hand to mouth, water charges will tip the most vunerable in our society into dire poverty and hardship.

author by don't pay - Non payment campaignpublication date Mon Feb 26, 2007 09:05Report this post to the editors

The website of the trade Union Non-payment campaign can be found at:


Protest at Crystal Alliance
Protest at Crystal Alliance

Related Link: http://www.waterchargesnonpayment.com
author by erin go bragh - nipsapublication date Mon Mar 05, 2007 13:00Report this post to the editors

ICTU call for non-payment, as does NIPSA......just looking at the picture of the last protest at Crystal Alliance and notice that one of those saying DONT PAY was the same right wing hack who got up to oppose TFC movers and speakers for a non-payment of water charges motion...............shame on ye right wing!!!!

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