Socialist Voice, Bin tax battle, July 2003

As bin tax battle looms, residents around Dublin say:

no way, we won't pay!

THE GOVERNMENT has given Councils the power not to collect waste from households refusing to pay the bin charge. The mis-named "Protection of the Environment Bill, 2003" was passed in the Dail in early July and now all that is needed for it to be enacted is the signature of the President and the Minister. The battle against double taxation bin charges is now entering a crucial stage.

By Kevin McLoughlin

The Campaigns against the bin charges in Dublin have tactics to counter non-collection and must be ready to implement them at a moment's notice. In Fingal because of the tag system, it is possible that non-collection could even be implemented before the end of this month. However, without in any way being complacent, it seems more likely that non-collection will be implemented anytime from September onwards, but we must be vigilant.

This government and its hacks who run the Councils believes that the prospect of non-collection will intimidate people into paying the tax, but they are mistaken. People do not just see this as a small charge of a couple of hundred euro a year. They know it will increase but also see it in the context of the cost of living going through the roof as well as extra charges and cutbacks in essential services. The opposition to this government has really deepened in the last couple of months, typified by the booing of Bertie Ahern at a recent match in Croke Park.

When this new law was being discussed in the Dail, Socialist Party TD, Joe Higgins, warned the government that any attempt to leave behind the bins of residents will be met with a revolt in the communities. Community pickets and protests will disrupt and stop the whole collection service until a commitment is given by the Council managers that all bins will be collected. It is vital at the same time, that the Campaigns exert maximum pressure on the politicians. Given that there will be elections within the next year, a decisive stand by the Campaigns can force the Councils to ditch their non-collection plans.

The bin charge is just one part of a concerted attack by this government against the living standards of working class people. It's a very good example of the way this government does everything in its power to impose a big business agenda at our expense. They say polluters must pay! But the vast bulk of waste going to landfill is produced by agriculture and big business. We say, go after the real polluters not PAYE workers who pay more than 80% of all tax in this country.

There is real anger against this government and at a certain stage the question will be posed - how can we take on and defeat their anti-working class policies? A major battle on the bin charges could be the start of an organised fightback. In reality "social partnership" is dead, it is only united action in the communities and, in particular, in the unions that can stop the governmet's programme of cutbacks, double taxation and privatisation.

"I can't afford to pay it, there just isn't enough money to pay for anything else. People pay their taxes and bin collection is part of a public service. The waiver scheme is a joke and I think it's an insult to people on low incomes. People who are paying mortgages are heading into big trouble, with jobs going, the shit is just going to hit the fan. The Vincent de Paul and other charities are stretched to their limits trying to cope with the number of families that look to them for help. You know, if the Campaign gave up, people in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown would have to take out a loan to pay off their arrears as we have been getting the bills for four years now."

Barbara O'Conner from Rosemount Estate in Dundrum.

"I live in the Finglas area and joined the Campaign against the bin charges because I believe they are a gross insult to the people of Dublin. I don't believe anybody in Ireland should be paying for refuse collection. This is a double taxation and Fianna Fail and their lackays the PD's seem to be set on making people pay for their mistakes in government.

People should not be forced to pay for services they have already paid for. I support this campaign because we have to stand up to this injustice. They are robbing the poor to subsidize the rich. We must elect a government that does not want to privatise the public services and we must fight to win the bin charges campaign." John Trainer, Finglas anti-bin tax activist.

"The bin tax is something I feel very strong about. There are numerous reasons as to why I have refused to pay this tax. Firstly, I already pay for this service in my taxes and why should I have to pay twice? Secondly, most of the waste that's produced in this country is produced by either the construction industry, big business, or the farming community, and only a small fraction of the waste is generated by the ordinary domestic householder, but we have no choice but to accept the over-packaging that is foisted upon us daily by businesses. Prior to the so called Celtic Tiger phenomena, we didn't pay these charges except in our taxes and now we are to be taken to court as polluters. The whole injustice of this makes me more determined and resolute in my conviction that this is an unjust tax and that it should be resisted irrespective of the consequences. Lastly, we've been crucified of late with massive increases in car insurance, house insurance, health insurance and dearer prices for the weekly shop since the introduction of the euro. Yet, we are told to accept pay increases of less than the current rate of inflation, which leaves us playing catch up. It poses the question, where exactly does the government think we can get this money from to pay for these stealth taxes?"

Phil, from Clogher Road,Crumlin

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