Mass struggle shakes the Establishment

Over 14/15 October, the battle against the bin tax in Dublin reached new heights. Over those two days, protest action forced 90% of bin services in greater Dublin to close down.

Kevin McLoughlin, Dublin.

Following the call from the anti-bin tax campaign in Fingal, seven bin truck depots that cover the greater Dublin area were picketed successfully. Overwhelmingly, the bin workers respected the pickets. Furthermore, many wanted to co-ordinate action with the campaign in order to put maximum pressure on the local councils which are implementing the tax.

Council management, police and union officials attempted to pile on the pressure to cut across the blockades. It is a testament to the determination of the activists, and the solidarity mood in the depots, that management and police were only able to break through one blockade. In that case, two women activists were arrested under so-called public order offences.

The potential for an alliance between the activists in the communities and the bin workers is of crucial importance. It was clear that the majority of the bin workers are not only opposed to the bin tax, they are also disgusted with the harassment and imprisonment of protesters. Many of the workers see the tax as a stepping-stone towards privatisation of services. There is obviously a desire to fight on these issues but there is very little confidence in the union leadership. Campaign activists and workers need to try to work out a common strategy to fight on all these issues as a matter of urgency.

The anti-bin tax campaign issued a clear warning last Wednesday (15/10/03) that more arrests and non-collection will result in even more determined action.

The Establishment thought that by ignoring the campaign they could pretend that the bin tax was not an issue. Since last week’s blockades, however, they have really tried to hammer the campaign, and the Socialist Party in particular. This is precisely because the struggle is having a tremendous effect.

The battle of ideas, and countering misinformation about the anti-bin tax campaign, is a vital part of the campaign. We got a big boost last weekend with the release from prison of Clare Daly and Joe Higgins last Saturday. This and their stated intention to continue the fight against this unfair tax got massive media coverage in Ireland.

Over 400 activists and Socialist Party members crammed into the Gresham Hotel last Saturday night to salute the brave stand of Joe and Clare in defence of working class people. Joe and Clare outlined what was next in the bin tax battle but also put the struggle in a broader context and encouraged people to join the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party has demonstrated in practice that it has the ideas and methods to take on the capitalist Establishment.

€1,500 was raised for the party funds in the collection at the meeting.

See the Irish Times report of the meeting