a Workers Solidarity Movement policy statement

The Anti-Water Charges Campaign

1. 1 The campaign to date has been very haphazard. This is understandable in that it has to be built from the bottom up. The consequence of this however is that there is no 'co-ordinating group' to make decisions or even to give suggestions as to the future direction of the campaign. The danger of this is that Militant Labour - being the moving force behind the "Dublin Anti-Water Charges Campaign" - will end up making those 'co-ordinating' decisions anyway with no input from local groups. This must be avoided.

2. 1 The decision to build the Dublin Anti-Water Charges Campaign (DAWCC) in this way is to be welcomed. In any area in which we can, we should attempt to set up branches of this campaign. In order to ensure that the campaign becomes more than a network of local groups we should argue for:-

(a) A Conference to be held in the Autumn (late September/early October) to which would be invited all DAWCC groups/branches, the Dublin Campaign against Water Charges, ACRA, NATO, trade unions (especially shop stewards and committee reps in the local authorities), political groupings, residents' and other local groups from outside Dublin which have been campaigning against the charges for years etc. - in fact everyone who is opposed to these charges and is seriously interested in building a campaign against them. The Conference should be open and democratic and should look for motions on the future tactics and strategies of the campaign.

(b) This Conference should elect a co-ordinating committee which would ensure representation for the various groupings. This committee would have responsibility for building the campaign in areas in which it did not already have a base and for co-ordinating the various activities as outlined in the Conference motions. The committee should involve two convenors from each local authority area (Fingal, South County Dublin , Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and Corporation area). These convenors would have responsibility for co-ordination at a local level.

(c) The campaign should build - through local activities (pickets, lobbying of councillors' clinics, occupations of council offices, public meetings at which councillors would be put on the spot etc.) - for a national rally/march before the end of the year. It is extremely important that the campaign groups at local level remain active (without over-burdening people) in order to ensure that people retain an interest in fighting and building and to ensure that the local groups remain in control of the campaign.

(d) Above all, the campaign must remain a non-payment campaign and ideas and facilities must be put in place before the end of the year to ensure support for people who could well face court action or cut-off.

By virtue of our size and the fact that most members live in the Corporation area, our impact on the campaign will be minimal. We must try to ensure - as far as is possible - that the one-upmanship which has been a feature of this campaign and so many others is not allowed to deflect from the overall objective of defeating then charges.

3.1 The WSM re-affirms its position of opposition to double taxation service charges in Dublin and elsewhere.

3.2 We further re-affirm our commitment to building the Federation of Dublin Anti-Water Charge Campaigns (FDAWCC) throughout the three Dublin counties, and to developing links with other anti-service charge campaigns throughout the state.

4.1 The FDAWCC is already one of the biggest campaigns in Dublin for decades, having approximately 10,000 members by February 1996.

4.2 The campaign tactic of frustrating the Councils' attempts to acquire disconnection orders in the courts has proved extremely successful. These court appearances have, in many cases, been the focal point for large demonstrations which have generated fairly extensive media coverage.

5.1 We unsuccessfully argued against the FDAWCC's endorsement of a candidate in the upcoming Dublin West by-election. If/when this debate comes up gain in the context of local/general elections we will again argue against the Campaign endorsing/supporting candidates.

5.2 However, while making it clear that as anarchists we will not participate n any way in canvassing/working for electoral candidates, we must be realistic and realise that most campaign activists will favour putting forward candidates. We will endeavour to avoid painting ourselves into a corner or being forced to withdraw from the campaign over this issue.

5.3 We will fight to ensure that the principal tactic tactics of the campaign remain non-payment, defence of non-payers in court, resistance to disconnections and a commitment to re-connect any water supply which is actually turned off.

6.1 Within the campaign we will continue to argue and work for the maximisation of democratic principles and for the creation of local action groups in all areas to ensure that local activist have greater input into the campaign in their own areas.

6.2 We recognise that this campaign has the potential for politicising large numbers of people (even if this politicisation is only to a very limited extent). We will continue to highlight our anarchism and our involvement in this campaign through the production of further issues of Anarchist News for activities/demonstrations of the campaign.

6.3 When the campaign comes to an end we will produce a pamphlet outlining the positive and negative aspects of its organisation.

This paper is out of date - see the new WSM site for the more recent version