Resist water charges
LAST OCTOBER, in a reply to the 'consultation' process on water charges, Minister John Spellar made it clear that water charges will be introduced; the water and sewerage service will be privatised and at least 350 jobs will be cut over the next two years.
Gary Mulcahy reports:
In a shocking display of arrogance he stated ' the public consultation has demonstrated that there is almost universal public and political opposition to private ownership of the Northern Ireland water industry.'
But he drew the conclusion 'a considerable body of evidence exists to suggest that the private sector business models offer the greatest potential to deliver a high quality service while at the same time reducing cost and offering affordable, competitive charges to customers.'
Spellar obviously has more of an ear for big business than the overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland people. What is also obvious is that New Labour are determined to impose water charges. Interestingly, the statement made six references to the former Northern Ireland Executive's position of accepting water charges.
It is clear that all the former Executive parties (UUP, SDLP, DUP and Sinn Fein) in principle agreed to introduce water charges through the last Assembly.
The only way water charges can be stopped and the service be kept in public hands is through a mass campaign in the communities to organise mass non-payment.
The Socialist Party has been active in building the 'Water Charges - We Won't Pay' Campaign over the past months and have received big support from householders for a non-payment campaign.
The campaign will be organising local groups in the communities over the next year and will also be working under the umbrella group Coalition Against Water Charges, which was set up by NI-ICTU last November.
At the first meeting of the Coalition, a Socialist Party proposal to call a demo in Belfast in early February was agreed. So far there are no indications of any progress on this decision. The demonstration should go ahead as part of the building of a mass opposition campaign.