Defend our public services

Fight the bin tax

The death of a child, whose life saving heart operation was postponed at Crumlin Children's Hospital due to staff shortage, has tragically exposed this government's neglect of the health service. Fianna Fail and the PDs have cut funding to a health service that is already over-stretched and in some areas on the point of breakdown due to decades of underfunding.

By Stephen Boyd

Bertie Ahern and Mary Harney have shown that they are committed to a neo-liberal agenda - to cuts in public expenditure and to the sell off of our public services. The continuing decline in the economy means that more savage cuts are on the horizon. Reports indicate that tax revenues could be down a further 1 euro billion this year. Charlie McCreevy's Budget in December will produce even more cuts for the health service.

Danny McCoy of the ESRI has stated that the Irish economy is in a downturn and that unemployment is set to rise to 200,000 in 2004, after this June's figures showed the highest increase in 16 years. The ESRI has predicted that inflation will remain the highest in the eurozone.

The cost of living is now a topic of discussion amongst most people, yet the government have a strategy to increase taxes on workers who are already overburdened with escalating house prices, increases in rents and the cost of the basic necessities of life.

The government has introduced new legislation that allows local councils to refuse to collect the rubbish of non-payers of the bin tax. If the government and the local authorities get away with successfully implementing these charges, then we can all expect the re-introduction of the water charges and a steady increase in local taxation up towards the 1,000 euro a year mark. The anti-bin tax campaigns are ready to take this government and the councils on in a battle to stop non-collection of rubbish and to defeat the bin tax. But a battle is also needed to defend the health service and all public services.

Jack O'Connor, SIPTU vice president, made a rousing speech at the recent ICTU conference claiming that thousands of workers were to be mobilised to defend "their jobs and quality of life". We have heard these types of speeches from trade union bureaucrats before. What we need is action from the leadership of the trade union movement. A campaign lead by the unions could mobilise hundreds of thousands of workers against this government's anti-working class agenda.

But we won't be waiting for the union bureaucrats to organise the fightback. The Socialist Party will be to the forefront of the battle against the government's hated bin tax this autumn - join your local anti-bin tax campaign and join the Socialist Party in the struggle to defend our public services.

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