Bin Tax battle looms

Socialist Voice June 2003

Before they head for their extended summer holidays, this government are preparing to put the boot in one more time. By mid July, it is likely that new legislation will be passed that will give councils the right to leave behind the refuse of households who have not paid the bin tax.

The government and the councils are hoping that the prospect of rubbish piling high will intimidate people into paying up. If they think working class communities in Dublin devastated by price hikes and cut backs are just going to roll over and accept this double tax, they have another thing coming.

Dublin bin charge protests continue

The hatred towards this tax is palpable and the vast majority of the households across the four council areas in Dublin have not paid. The campaigns in Dublin have developed tactics that will meet the non-collection of bins head on, (see below) and which will make this a huge issue across the city.

As soon as bins are not collected, it will also be essential to put the TDs and councillors from Fianna Fail and the PDs under intense pressure. For all their arrogant waffle of the last year, this government is nervous as it senses its base of support dwindle. The example of the U-turn on fees shows that a resolute response from the campaign and the communities can rattle them and force a retreat.

Since the last election, this government has welched on promise after promise. The real cost of living has gone through the roof and this government bears the bulk of responsibility. Any benefit from wage increases and tax cuts has been wiped away for many workers. They want the bin tax to be followed by water charges, with the target of getting 1,000 euro plus a year from each household. If opposition to the bin tax is linked to all the other attacks that they have implemented against working class people, we can create a massive community based campaign which could represent a turning point in the fortunes of this government. While people are decisively turning away from the likes of Fianna Fail, the PDs and Fine Gael, Labour, despite it's pseudo-radical image, are not opposed to these charges in principle. In fact they were responsible for the implementation of the tax in Dublin city. The Socialist Party is the only party in the Dail that has never supported any form of double taxation.

From mid July, Dublin will be facing an unprecedented crisis in waste collected caused by un-elected, un-accountable council bureaucrats. The bin tax will become a huge issue and the Socialist Party is calling on all community and trade union activists to get involved in the battle so we can force them back on the bin tax and begin a general fight back against this rotten capitalist government.

Campaigns against Bin Charges

Stand firm to defeat non-collection

The battle against the bin tax is reaching a crucial point. If the councils and the government are not met with a resolute response that scuppers their plans not to collect the bins of non-payers, the campaign can be significantly weakened. Alternatively if we stand firm, we can throw their plans and the tax into disarray. The new legislation that gives the councils the power of non collection is likely to be signed into law by mid July.

If they are allowed to get away with this, we will face price hikes, charges for water and other utilities and the possible privatisation of these services. The stakes are high this summer and serious action is called for!

As soon as bins are not collected, the campaigns' plans must swing into operation. Our approach must be that if they are not collecting the bins of non-payers, then they will not be able to collect any bins.

Communities and residents have every justification to come out immediately and place peaceful protest pickets on the trucks in response to non collection by council management. Campaigns in communities right across the city will support such protests in many areas. The aim of these pickets should be to get a commitment from the councils that all bins on the route will be collected otherwise there will be a serious disruption of the service.

The blocking of the service in a significant portion of routes by mass community action over a period of weeks can force the councils to reconsider their position. Council management and the politicians will be forced to wake up to the fact that this is a hated tax. Political pressure will be crucial. If the word comes from the political establishment to back off, the council managers will have no choice. However we need to be absolutely clear that they will try to hold the line, so we must be prepared for constant activity over the summer. On the other hand, notwithstanding the arrogance of Fianna Fail and the PDs since the election, they are nervous and susceptible to pressure as was indicated by their U-turn on college fees.

These protests will be directed against management and the councillors not the bin workers. The anti-bin tax campaigns have a common cause with the bin workers who themselves are under pressure to pay this double tax. We are in favour of good work conditions and decent pay and will fight alongside the workers against any attempts to privatise the service. We would encourage the workers not to implement the dictats of council mangers. It is not part of the contract of bins workers to have to deal with community protests on a daily basis.

It is quite possible that the council managers will try to use the state and the law against protesters. They should be aware that there are many people who are prepared to go to jail on this issue. The jailing of law abiding citizens engaged in civil disobediance against a double tax at a time of huge business and political corruption, will cause outrage in Dublin and throughout the country. It will be made very clear to the Garda, who constantly talk of the need for co-operation with the communities, that if they intervene in an inappropriate way, they will alienate the best activists in the communities. By decisive community action we were able to stop the plan of South Dublin County Council to dis-connect the water of 1,000 households in December 1994. Again, similar protests combined with massive political pressure can force the councils to retreat on their threats not to collect our bins and the overall struggle against double taxation can be strengthened.

Campaign stalls Council's court threats

The Dublin City Manager, last September, attempted to use the courts to intimidate non payers of the bin tax. Mass non-payment was proving to be effective, threatening letters and an advertising campaign "don't dump on us", funded by Dublin and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Councils (tax payers' money) were proving to be ineffective.

By Joan Collins

Finglas was the targeted area. Immediately, a number of householders contacted their local campaign and they quickly met the campaign's solicitors. They were determined not to pay this double tax. On 20 September 2002, four Finglas households attended the district court in Brunswick Street, Dublin. The Dublin Anti Bin Tax Campaign organised support for them outside the Court.

The Anti Bin Tax Campaign, as promised, used the monies collected in membership fees to pay for solicitors. The campaign's barrister represented the four Finglas householders and contested that the charge is in conflict with the polluter pays principle which is embodied in the European directive on waste management. The Judge referred the case to the High Court and they were subsequently adjourned. A new court date has still to be set.

Since then, the City Manager has continued to send summonses to non-payers in Raheny, Cabra and Ringsend. As soon as the campaign is informed of new summonses, the campaign meets the non-payers, their summonses are collected and our solicitors organise representation for the courts. To date, the campaign has been successful in getting all the cases we have adjourned.

The most recent cases of non-payers due in court on 6 June have been adjourned to September. Our tactic of frustrating Dublin City Council in the courts has been a success to date.

Legal costs for the campaign are high therefore by joining the Anti Bin Tax Campaign and paying your 6 euro membership you can contribute to helping defend non-payers in the courts.

If you receive a summons, don't ignore it - you should immediately contact the Anti Bin Tax Campaign, we will get solicitors to represent you.

For other reports on the campaign against the Bin Charges go to the sitemap.
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