But the city officials aren't going to sit around forever. Sooner or later they'll be back for round two. They signalled their intentions by repeating their shenanigans of the year before by raising the tax by another 23%. It's a pity they don't raise wages by 23%! So now many of us are facing a larger bill for our public service and a backlog of outstanding bills going back for three years. As the French say, the more things change the more things stay the same.
The campaign has already achieved a result in making an issue out of something that was previously ignored by the political parties. We made some of the biggest news of the year by shutting down the city's services. People flocked out of their houses and stopped bin trucks. I've spoken to the workers in the depots and they are in no doubt that privatisation is on the way if the council succeed in getting us all to pay. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the trade union leaders have not helped the workers carry the fight. Instead, they have been busy undermining their own members' opposition to the charges by denouncing the campaign in public and not supporting bin workers when they refused to break the pickets in October.
Ultimately this last year has also brought some of the failings of the campaign to light; at the last few blockades the fight was left to the dedicated activists. To defeat the Council in their push for privatisation of our services the campaign needs to recapture the broader participation of the earlier days. If the campaign is to win this year people have to take responsibility for getting involved in their neighbourhoods and, just as importantly, at the central co-ordination level.
This is your opportunity to put a halt to the Thatcher-like privatisation of your services. Do not leave it up to others to defend you from the future nightmare of having to pay private contractors for your waste-collection, water, and whatever other ways that they can successfully screw money out of us. This fight is too important and we need you in order to slay the dragon of double-taxation.
by Dermot Sreenan
This edition is No79 published in Jan 2004