Article from the Jan 2005 issue of the Socialist , newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Anti-bin charges campaign

Pay by use - a fraud and rip off

by Kevin McLoughlin

WITH "PAY by use" bin charges, the propaganda ads stated, you'll pay less, if you reduce and recycle! "Pay by use", just like the "polluter pays principle" upon which it is based, is a fraud and a rip-off.

Nobody is paying less everybody is paying more! Last year Dublin City Council had a flat charge of 195. This year the same service will cost 340 a year! If you reduce and recycle and put your bin out half as much as previously, it will cost you 210, still 15 more than last year. These increases are mirrored throughout the country.

In many areas, councils operated a waiver system to diminish the opposition to the tax by giving some the impression that they'd be exempt. Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown is just the latest Council to alter or scrap their waiver system. Those who previously got a waiver will now only be exempt from the flat charge and will have to pay over 250 a year.

These developments are a dramatic confirmation of the warnings by the Socialist Party, that the charges will go up, that waivers would be scrapped and that the services would be privatised. Undoubtedly they will attempt to impose charges for water and other local services.

The increase in bin charges is coming at a time of substantial price hikes for other vital services, and is having a serious effect on living standards. These bin charges are a cynical fund raising mechanism by which local councils are attempting to plug the financial gaps due to government underfunding. In cases where the service has been privatised, the charges are increased at the whim of the operator when they want to boost profits. This government has literally turned the refuse service into a mess.

The trade union leadership have sold-out PAYE workers and the communities on this issue, which was graphically shown by their abandonment of the anti-bin tax protesters in Autumn 2003.

This remains a huge issue for working class people. As long as the taxation system is biased against the PAYE sector, local service charges will not be accepted. The bin charges should be scrapped and the service should be run by the councils and be democratically accountable to the communities. The government and the councils should implement a serious reuse and recycling programme instead of the current sham. These initiatives should be funded by taxing the real polluters - big business retailers, construction and big farming.

Over the next weeks and months it is likely that Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown councils will try to impose non-collection of the bins of non-payers. It is vital that any such attempts are fought fully. Action should be organised with a view to making sure the bins of non-payers are collected and to try to have an impact on the bin workers to make a stand against the policy of non-collection.

The bin charges and the waste crisis will get worse. The correctness of our battle has been confirmed and is now even being recognised by people who didn't initially support our stand. The bin tax will become a live national issue once again. If active opposition can be redeveloped in the communities and if activists can force the unions to take a principled stand of opposition, we can defeat bin charges.

City Council appeal court defeat

by Diarmuid Naessens

AT THE Dublin Circuit Court on 8 December, Dublin City Council was found to be in contravention of its own waste management plan. The Judge ruled that the City Council had not included in the bin charges for 2001 and 2002 any financial incentives for householders who were reducing and recycling their waste.

Robert Power from Crumlin, a member of the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign who took this test case, won his legal costs against the council. As a consequence, Robert doesn't have to pay his bin charges for 2001 and 2002. This is an important victory for the Anti-Bin Tax campaign.

During the case, the Judge asked Dublin City Council if it wanted the case to be stated to the Supreme Court, which they declined. Dublin City Council is appealing this court decision on 25 January and will be looking on this occasion for a referral to the Supreme Court. The result of these legal cases could have big implications for householders who have been refusing to pay the bin charges, as it may result in their arrears being scrapped. It also might mean that those who paid the charges would be entitled to a refund!

H The anti-bin tax legal team are now examining the case of householders who only use black bags for waste disposal, as they have had no financial incentive to recycle for the years-2001 - 2004.

H Don't panic don't pay. Contact your local Anti-Bin Tax Campaign for information on how you can get involved in the Campaign.

H If you paid your bin charges, look for your money back. Freephone Dublin City Council 1800 589789.

Waiver System

CORK CITY Council have taken the axe to the city's bin charge waiver system. Starting 17 January, the Council will operate a double bin charge - a 255 annual fixed charge and 5 a week for tags without which bins will not be emptied. Most pensioners will be waivered for both charges but all other householders on the waiver - including the sick, the unemployed and the low paid will be asked to pay for the tags. This will hit low-income households to the tune of nearly 200 this year. The 14 December City Council meeting was abandoned after sharp verbal clashes between Socialist Party Councillor Mick Barry and Fianna Fail Lord Mayor Sean Martin on the issue.

DUN LAOGHAIRE Rathdown Co. Council have introduced their new pay by weight and pay by volume system for waste collection: A fixed standing charge of 80 per annum, plus 4 every time your bin is collected, plus a further charge of 20 cent per kilo of rubbish billed every six months.

A full bin will cost aproximately 8 per collection. Even with re-cycling and only putting your bin out once a fortnight, the bin tax in this area has gone up to 290 a year. For larger households whose bins would need to be collected weekly, the bin tax could cost up to 500 a year.

On top of these increased charges the Council has also cut the waiver system. Now every one who was previously entitled to a 100% waiver will only receive an exemption for the standing charge of 80 and will have to pay the 8 charge everytime their bin is collected.

SINCE THE privatisation of the bin collection service in Limerick city, the cost of the charges has continuously been creeping up. To add insult to injury, the city management tried to abolish the waiver scheme. The Council claimed that paying the bin waiver to the private company was illegal as they claimed this breached competition law. However after pressure was put on the Council to prove this, it was shown to be untrue and the Council management had to back off from scrapping the waiver. Instead Councillors passed a budget that included a 40% cut in the bin tax waiver.

Earlier reports of the Bins Campaigns




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