The following statement was issued 26th Sept. by Mick O'Reilly (ATGWU)

The ATGWU totally disassociates itself from the statement made by the ICTU General Secretary David Begg. This statement clearly states that the ICTU does not believe that its own policies in relation to bin charges are worth fighting for. The entire statement is a scurrilous attack on working class communities, resident’s associations and thousands of PAYE workers and trade unionists who are fighting for the policies of the ICTU. The picture painted of these people by David Begg, as marionettes who are being manipulated for political ends, is both patronising and insulting to the communities concerned. The idea that if people acquiesce to these charges jobs will be secure and privatisation of refuse services will be stopped is simply not true. The opposite is the case. In many councils around the country where these charges have been introduced, privatisation has followed. If these charges are introduced in Dublin, privatisation will surely follow and Mr. Begg is misleading workers to say otherwise. The failure of the ICTU leadership to call for support for demonstrations demanding the release of Cllr Clare Daly and Joe Higgins TD is a disgrace. No greater love could be shown to the government by the leadership of the ICTU than to attack working class communities who dare to have the nerve to fight for trade union policies and oppose unjust taxes. To attack those who struggle, to proclaim that struggle cannot change the policies of governments is to devalue and deface the whole history of trade unionism.

The ICTU claim that we live in a partnership society and that it is worthwhile propping up the Fianna Fáil / Progressive Democrat government, together with the employers in a partnership process because it gives the ICTU a major influence on strategic issues such as taxation and social policy. Why was this influence not brought to bear to do anything to ameliorate this most crude, unjust form of regressive taxation? In his statement Mr. Begg decries the fact that we have the lowest public expenditure of 16 OECD countries, he decries the fact that the government stood on a low tax platform, yet the executive of the ICTU are one of the biggest props that this government has. Mr. Begg, in his statement, has condemned the bin charges for having no regard for ability to pay and also being a major component of inflation, why then does he attack those who have the courage to campaign against these taxes. The answer to this is simple Mr. Begg is a partner of the government and employers and if that partnership requires him to attack his own members, abandon his own policies then that is what he will do. Why doesn’t the executive of the ICTU try a partnership with its own members and these working class communities in struggle? The fact is that if you fight you don’t always win but if you don’t fight you’ll never win.

If we can imagine that Begg and his cohorts were in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago they would never have followed a leader who got himself crucified, they would instead have negotiated a “partnership deal” with the Romans!