Community Direct Action

How we can beat the bin tax

No working class struggle in recent decades has faced such repression as the anti bin tax movement. This is a very serious clash between the ruling class and working class communities in Dublin. The result - but also how the battle is fought - will have a big impact for years to come. Already the last month has had a profound impact on the attitudes of thousands of people. All forces and parties have been put to the test.

By Kevin McLoughlin

It is essential to have flexible tactics adapted for each stage of a battle. However, now that the anti bin tax battle is in full flow, it is crucial that non-collection and the jailing and intimidation of protesters is met by a determined and militant response.

To cut across non-collection, to disrupt the council and to build up political pressure has been the approach of Socialist Party members who are to the fore in all four campaigns in Dublin. The blockading of bin trucks with a view to getting all bins collected or to cause disruption to the council was implemented within minutes of Fingal County Council imposing non-collection. These tactics which have now been used in all areas have proved controversial for some.

Without these tactics the bin charges would not be the number one issue in Irish society nor would the Dublin Trades Council be calling a demonstration. Those who have opposed the widespread use of such blockades either on tactical or legal grounds have failed to provide any other means of protesting effectively. The choice was between a militant campaign that attempted from the word go to put the councils and the government under real pressure or a more passive campaign which for some was a tokenistic stepping stone to a challenge in next years local elections.

That the state has intervened with the jailing of twelve protestors shows their determination to smash this movement but it also shows that they fear the movement's potential. It is essential that the movement now goes on the offensive. To step back now with the jailing of ten activists would have disastrous consequences. It is a tribute to the movement that the people on the ground are prepared, if necessary, to replace the ten with another hundred, just as the ten replaced Clare and Joe.

It is vital that workers force their unions decisively into this battle. Strike action of a significant sort within the next week must be fought for in all unions. All the parties and the leading politicians must be made feel the anger of the communities at every turn. Preparations must be made to fully reflect peoples' opposition at the local elections next year. Most importantly, the campaigns in Dublin and in Cork where the council is re-introducing non-collection next week, must strike together and blockade the bin depots. Such action is in no way an attack on the bin workers but is designed to cause massive disruption with a view to ending non-collection. The state and the politicians must be confronted with the prospect that if they are to defeat this movement then they will have to jail hundreds. Such determined action would also send a deafening message to the trade union leaders - act now or be exposed forever!

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