Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/479/2194
The Socialist 22 March 2007 |
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Water charges to be delayed?
SHOP STEWARDS and officials of the GMB union met Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain in Belfast on 20 March. A GMB press release says that Hain agreed to fund the postponement of the new and anti-working class water charges for one year until 1 April 2008 if the Northern Ireland assembly is set up next week.
If this is true (and it has not yet been confirmed by Hain) this would be the second time this controversial law has been postponed. It reflects the government and political parties' fears of a mass movement of angry working-class people.
The first thing the new assembly faced was implementing an unworkable law and being at the receiving end of a campaign of mass non-payment by hundreds of thousands of people.
Water charges were being threatened from 1 April as a way of privatising the service.
Members of the Socialist Party in Northern Ireland have played a leading role in organising the We Won't Pay Campaign to prepare for mass non-payment and build a movement with strong local roots and links within the communities. 150 people attended an all-Northern Ireland conference on 10 March.
The We Won't Pay Campaign has told the media that it still fights for total abolition of the water charges, not just their delay. It will still be organising its major demonstration on 31 March, the day before the charges were meant to come in, inviting all trade unions, anti-charges groups and activists to take part and get rid of water charges completely.