Water tax in Northern Ireland


Northern Irish homes are to be subjected to a tax on water, unless enough of us get together to stop the government's plan. Friday 20th June saw the end of the "consulation" period, not that the government was doing much "consulting" with us - because they had already said that the next announcement would be about how to pay this tax! The decision had been made before they pretended to listen to our opinions about whether or not such a tax should be introduced.

The Government wants us to pay not once but twice. We already pay for domestic water through the rates. If we have to pay water charges as well, that's a double payment.

Unlike in the South, where there was a "waiver" scheme for pensioners and unemployed, there will be no help with payment for those on benefits.

Remember, when they try to scam us with talk of bringing us into line with the rest of the UK, that people in Northern Ireland have less income and a higher cost of living than people anywhere else in the UK. We pay more for food, fuel and childcare. Wages are, on average, 20% less. Put all their excuses aside, and you are left with one simple fact - they want to screw more money out of us.

The passing of the Government deadline was marked in Belfast with a bit of direct action at the Water Service Depot on the Old Westland Road. People from Communities Against the Water Tax (CAWT) picketed the depot at the start of the day's shift.

Getting the campaign off to a good start, none of the workers crossed the picket line. Water workers are facing up to 600 redundancies as part of this 'tax and privatise' plan. Later that day there was a protest outside the Department of Regional Development offices in Belfast as trade unionists handed in thousands of petitions opposing the charge.

Boycotting the bills is the way to win. We will see politicians, especially those from Sinn Fein and the PUP, stating their opposition to the tax. But talk is cheap. Will Gerry Adams or David Ervine actually call for non-payment, will their party activists get involved in the campaign?

If we want to be sure of having a campaign with a real chance of winning, ordinary householders will have to build it. The people who have formed CAWT want to do just that. A similar campaign in the mid-1990s defeated the water tax in the south.

We can do the same here. Contact Communities Against the Water Tax, 54 Manor Street, Belfast BT14 6EA.

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.

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This edition is No77 published in September 2003